uuworld.org: liberal religion and life


Unitarian Universalists in the media

A frequently updated guide to stories about Unitarian Universalists from other sources around the web.

Media roundup: Minister recounts harrowing train crash

Minister recounts harrowing train crash

In a Washington Post article, the Rev. Carol Cissel describes the experience of being on the Amtrak train that derailed on May 12. Though it is not mentioned in the story, Cissel is interim minister at the Unitarian Society of East Brunswick, N.J. (Washington Post – 5.13.15)

Church completes two-year process to go green

First Parish in Bedford, Mass., successfully completed the Unitarian Universalist Association’s lengthy “Green Sanctuary” accreditation program. (The Bedford Minuteman – 5.9.15)

Faith leaders on small towns, women ministers, and more

The Rev. Lisa Mobayed, the recently ordained minister of the Unitarian Church in Walpole, N.H., is profiled in an article about the joys and challenges of leading small-town congregations. (Monadnock Ledger-Transcript – 5.11.15)

An article focusing on women ministers points out the success they have had in UU congregations, particularly pointing to High Street Unitarian Universalist Church in Macon, Ga., which has had more women ministers than men, including the currently installed Rev. Cassandra Howe. (GPB News – 5.11.15)

An opinion piece about faith leaders speaking out on climate change includes quotes from the Rev. Michael Brown, minister of the Universalist Unitarian Church of Peoria, Ill. (Pekin Daily Times – 5.7.15)

Quoted in an article about the struggle some churches are still having with same-sex marriage, the Rev. Sean Parker Dennison, minister of Tree of Life Unitarian Universalist Church in McHenry, Ill., says, “When religion is used to hurt other people, that’s really hard. That’s really sad.” (mySuburbanLife.com – 5.7.15)

UUs in the community

People in Corvallis, Ore., are exploring options for housing the communities rapidly growing population of seniors. A group formed by the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Corvallis is studying senior housing options, with a focus on the concept of aging in place. (Corvallis Gazette-Times – 5.11.15)

The Rev. Pat Jobe, minister of the Greenville, S.C., Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, and Cathy Jaggars, president, attended a community Meet Your Muslim Neighbor event that drew more than 150 participants. (Greenville Online – 5.7.15)

The Rev. Phillip Baber, minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Jacksonville, Fla., explains why UU values inspired his congregation to get involved in efforts to educate the public about the Jacksonville Human Rights Ordinance. (HRC Blog – 5.11.15)

Checking in on our old properties

A short real estate piece offers an update on the properties at 6 and 7 Mt. Vernon Place, formerly the UUA’s Eliot and Pickett Houses B&B, which were sold in 2014 when the UUA moved its headquarters off of Boston’s Beacon Hill. (Boston.Curbed.com – 5.6.15)


Environmentalist wants churches to take action, and other UUs in the media

UU environmentalist calls on churches to lead

Tim DeChristopher, the UU environmentalist who served time in a federal prison for interfering with a 2008 government oil and gas lease auction, writes about why he thinks churches need to take the moral lead on climate change. (Yes! Magazine – 3.27.15)

See also: “Activism is an act of faith” by Tim DeChristopher (UU World – Winer 2012)

Discrimination not a religious value

The Rev. Debra Haffner, director of the Religious Institute and a community minister with the Unitarian Church in Westport, Conn., responds to Indiana’s “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” and argues that “discrimination is never a religious value.” (Huffington Post - 3.31.15)

Other stories including UU responses to the Religious Freedom Bill include:

“Gay community protests religious freedom law” (Chicago Tribune – 3.27.15)

“How Illinois’ religious freedom law differs from Indiana’s” (WQAD.com – 3.31.15)

“North Carolina considers Indiana-like religious objection law” (Kentucky.com – 4.1.15)

“Protestors Gather At Capitol Against Religious Freedom Bill” (GPB.org – 3.31.15)

“The Sunday After” (Indiana Student Daily – 3.30.15)

In the congregations

The UU Church in Livermore, Calif., partnered with a local United Methodist church to open a free laundry facility for homeless residents. (San Jose Mercury News – 3.31.15)

The UU Congregation of Atlanta, Ga., helps promote a love of reading by providing free books in English and Spanish to Hispanic youth under 17 as part of its annual Fiesta de Libros. (AJC.com – 3.27.15)

All Souls Unitarian Church in Tulsa, Okla., held a service that recreated a 1965 service in support of civil rights marches in Selma, Ala. (Tulsa World – 3.30.15)

A woman was arrested after she intentionally set fire to the foyer of First Parish Church in Plymouth, Mass., Sunday evening, causing damage to the carpet and some furnishings. (South Coast Today – 3.31.15)

The Shreveport Times profiles the Rev. Barbara Jarrell, minister of All Souls UU Church in Shreveport, La., who recently underwent a double mastectomy for breast cancer. (The Shreveport Times – 3.31.15)











Author reflects on 10 years of marriage equality, and other UUs in the media

Marriage equality, then and now

On the 10th anniversary of legalized same-sex marriage in Massachusetts, E.J. Graff, senior fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism and author of What Is Marriage For? The Strange Social History of Our Most Intimate Institution, reflects on the fight for marriage equality. (Boston Globe – 5.16.14)

Since Tuesday’s federal court ruling struck down Pennsylvania’s ban on same-sex marriage, the Unitarian Church of Harrisburg has been flooded with requests for wedding services. (Penn Live – 5.22.14)

Having faith in faith

Domenick Scudera writes about visiting a UU church for his niece’s ordination and how the experience helped restore his faith—at least a bit—in the positive qualities of organized religion after years of Catholic doctrine that told him “homosexual acts are ‘intrinsically disordered.’” (Huffington Post – 5.21.14)

Too much information?

The UUA’s sexuality curriculum Our Whole Lives got a shout-out from a reader on The Dish for how it deals frankly with matters such as “lovemaking and pleasure.” The conversation was started by a bioethics professor reflecting on how uninformed her son’s classmates are about sex ed. (The Dish – 5.21.14, 5.20.14)

In the congregations

The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Statesboro, Ga., is in the process of converting an old auto shop into its new church. (Statesboro Herald – 5.17.14)

One final service will be held at the 123-year-old former home of Detroit’s First Unitarian Church, which was recently destroyed in a fire. A candlelight vigil and ceremony is being organized by Preservation Detroit. (Detroit Free Press – 5.19.14)

At its annual meeting, the Unitarian Society of Northampton and Florence, Mass., voted to divest its endowment of fossil fuel stocks. (MassLive.com – 5.19.14)

Introducing our new media blogger

It’s my pleasure to announce that beginning today, UUs in the Media will be written by Rachel Walden.

Rachel has worked for the Unitarian Universalist Association since 2009. During her time here, she has given tours for groups of all ages, helped UUs and newcomers learn about the UUA and its programs, and created social media content for the UUA. Her current work in the UUA’s Office of Information and Public Witness includes monitoring the media for references to Unitarian Universalists. Prior to working for the UUA, she served as church administrator for the UU Church of the Brazos Valley in College Station, Tex.

Milwaukee congregation a divestment leader, and other UUs in the media

Milwaukee congregation to divest from fossil fuels

First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee, Wisc., has joined the divestment movement, announcing its plan to sell all holdings in fossil fuel companies as a way to combat climate change. The congregation says they are the first religious institution in the country to completely divest from fossil fuels. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel – 7.20.13)

See also: Four UU congregations pull investments from fossil fuel companies (uuworld.org – 6.17.13)

Related: The 2013 UUA General Assembly voted to adopt an Action of Immediate Witness that called for delegates to “begin a denomination-wide conversation within their congregations about divesting from fossil fuels or exercising shareholder influence.” (blogs.uuworld.org/ga – 6.23.13)

Feeding the hungry, rallying for gun safety, and more

The Social Action Committee of the Unitarian Church in Summit, N.J., donated $2,000 to Summit Helping Its People, a group that feeds area residents in need. (Independent Press – 7.21.13)

Survivors of gun violence, including Tammy Sommers, who was injured during the 2008 shooting at Tennessee Valley UU Church in Knoxville, joined others to rally for legislation that would expand background checks for gun buyers. (uuworld.org – 7.28.08, newschannel5.com – 6.25.13)

The Interfaith Peace Camp, a weeklong camp that teaches children about the meaning of peace in different religions, celebrated its 10th anniversary. (Danbury News Times – 7.20.13)

California church sues NSA, and other UUs in the media

Los Angeles church leads lawsuit against NSA

First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles is the lead plaintiff in a federal lawsuit against the National Security Agency, which the group of 19 organizations bringing the case says violated Americans’ “First Amendment right of association by illegally collecting their call records” as part of its antiterrorism surveillance program. (KCET – 7.16.13)

Among the many stories covering the lawsuit were:

Unitarians, gun lovers, and pot advocates sue the NSA over spying program (Mother Jones – 7.17.13)

Church, advocacy groups sue NSA over surveillance (PC World – 7.16.13)

Church, rights groups sue NSA over spying (Kansas City infoZine – 7.17.13)

Unlikely coalition sues NSA over phone surveillance (sv411 – 7.17.13)

Californians sue over NSA surveillance (Examiner – 7.17.13)

Dedham church hosts talk by Catholic reformist

More than 500 people gathered to hear the Rev. Helmut Schuller, a reformist Catholic priest from Austria, speak at First Church and Parish in Dedham, Mass. Schuller was supposed to speak at Dedham’s Saint Susanna Parish, but Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley banned his appearance, in part due to Schuller’s advocacy for ordaining women and married men, so the talk was moved to the UU church. (WBUR – 7.18.13)

See also: Priest says grouping parishes will weaken church (Boston Globe – 7.18.13)

Second fire damages UU church

A fire of unknown origin damaged the First Unitarian Cooperative Preschool in San Diego, Calif., on Tuesday, just six months after an arson fire damaged the same property. (KFMB – 7.16.13)

Toshi Seeger, wife of folk legend, dies

Toshi Seeger, wife of UU folk singer Pete Seeger, died at 91. They had been married for almost 70 years. (New York Times – 7.11.13)

Introducing a new media blogger

It’s my pleasure to announce that beginning today, UUs in the Media will be written by the Rev. Christian Schmidt.

Christian has worked at UU World since 2010 and will become the minister of First Parish in Malden, Mass., in August.

Christian is a graduate of Andover Newton Theological School and the University of Houston, and he worked as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers before beginning preparation for the ministry. He has a passion for Unitarian Universalism and communications, and also serves as a member of the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Massachusetts Bay District board of trustees.

You may already know Christian from his blog, afreefaith.com. He lives in Malden, Mass., with his wife, Kristin, and their son.

Activist Tim DeChristopher on Letterman, and other UUs in the media

Tim DeChristopher appears on Late Show

UU and climate activist Tim DeChristopher, who served a 21-month prison sentence for disrupting a 2008 federal oil-and-gas leasing auction, appeared on “The Late Show with David Letterman” on June 25, where he talked about his bidding experience, going to prison, and the new documentary about him, Bidder 70. (YouTube)

DeChristopher also spoke to the Courier-Journal when he was in Louisville, Ky., for the UUA’s General Assembly. (6.29.13)

For more on DeChristopher:

On banks of Ohio River, UUs rally for clean energy (blogs.uuworld.org/ga – 6.20.13)

Tim DeChristopher’s path (UU World – Winter 2012)

Activism is an act of faith (UU World – Winter 2012)

UU responses to marriage equality, Voting Rights Act rulings

The recent Supreme Court rulings surrounding marriage equality have reinvigorated marriage rights activists in New Jersey, where civil unions are legal but not same-sex marriage. The Rev. Manish Mishra-Marzetti, of the UU Church in Cherry Hill, N.J., shared links to several recent news stories that include mentions of the congregation’s work in this area, including an opinion piece he wrote and two news videos, one of which featured he and his family. (The Inquirer – 6.27.13, Courier Post – 6.28.13, Channel 6 ABC – 6.27.13, Channel 3 CBS – 6.26.13)

The Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt and the Rev. Meg Barnhouse, both UU ministers, respond with joy and outrage to the Supreme Court’s marriage equality rulings and its decision to throw out Section Four(b) of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. (Huffington Post – 6.29.13)

With same-sex marriages set to resume in California, Conejo Valley UU Fellowship in Thousand Oaks, Calif., announced that it will waive its sanctuary rental fee for gay and lesbian couples who want to wed at the church. (The Acorn – 7.3.13)

Holocaust heroes, a day of service, and more

NPR’s “Here & Now” featured a story about the documentary Two Who Dared, which chronicles the work of a Unitarian minister and his wife who worked to save refugees during the Holocaust. (WBUR – 6.26.13)

First Parish UU in Kingston, Mass., held a Service Day, during which members volunteered to help individuals with various tasks or worked on community projects. (Wicked Local Kingston – 6.27.13)

DuPage UU Church in Naperville, Ill., a Green Sanctuary, was awarded an Earth Flag for environmental sustainability from DuPage County and SCARCE (School & Community Assistance with Recycling & Composting Education). (Chicago Tribune – 6.27.13)

Local media covers General Assembly, and other UUs in the media

General Assembly draws media attention

During the recent UUA General Assembly in Lousiville, Ky., the UUA partnered with Kentucky Interfaith Power and Light to sponsor a public witness event focused on the environmental impact of burning fossil fuels. Thousands of people gathered for the event, which featured speakers Wendell Berry and activist Tim DeChristopher. The rally got plenty of local media coverage, including lots of photos of GA attendees. Of course, not everyone supported the clean-energy rally. (tcktcktck.org – 6.17.13, Courier-Journal – 6.15.13, 6.21.13, WFPL News – 6.20.13)

Read UU World‘s coverage of the event, which includes a video. (blogs.uuworld.org/ga – 6.20.13)

Local media also reported on the Action of Immediate Witness that delegates voted overwhelmingly to pass during Sunday afternoon’s plenary, which calls for congregations to “begin a denomination-wide conversation within their congregations about divesting from fossil fuels or exercising shareholder influence.” (Courier-Journal – 6.24.13)

See also: Passed: fossil fuel divestment AIW (blogs.uuworld.org/ga – 6.23.13)

The Courier-Journal ran an article describing General Assembly and Unitarian Universalism. (6.22.13)

A writer on Huffington Post talks about the Librotraficantes Under Ground Library in Louisville, in which more than 200 copies of contraband texts were donated from across the United States by members of the HUUmanists. (6.18.13)

UUs respond to DOMA decision

Margaret Weis, a UU seminarian and military wife in a same-sex marriage, reacts to the death of the Defense of Marriage Act and celebrates the new rights she and her wife will soon have. (Boston Herald – 6.27.13)

Wives Holly and Tonja Hewlett, members of the UU Church of the Shenandoah Valley in Stephens City, Va., rejoice in the demise of DOMA but say “there’s still a lot of work to do.” (Northern Virginia Daily – 6.27.13)

As North Carolina marriage equality supporters celebrated the DOMA decision, UU ministers the Rev. Robin Tanner and the Rev. Ann Marie Alderman, who married each other in North Carolina in May, said that are now considering repeating their vows in Washington, D.C. (Charlotte Observer – 6.27.13)

A photo gallery of the “41 Best Signs Outside The Supreme Court On The Day DOMA Was Struck Down” include several with recognizably UU signs (39, 22, 14, 10). See if you can spot any more! (Buzzfeed – 6.26.13)


Asking questions leads to Jeopardy! win, and other UUs in the media

UU is three-day Jeopardy! champ

Tim Anderson, music director at the UU Church in Rockford, Ill., recently appeared as a contestant on “Jeopardy!” Anderson was a three-day champion, earning $58,001. (Rockford Register Star – 6.6.13, 6.12.13)

‘God Revised’ author talks religion, community

Paul Hiebert interviews the Rev. Galen Guengerich, senior minister of All Souls Unitarian Church in New York City and author of God Revised: How Religion Must Evolve in a Scientific Age, about Unitarian Universalism, God, community, and religious fundamentalists. (Pacific Standard – 6.6.13)

Teens tour civil-rights hotspots, the sexualization of warfare, and more

After a month spent studying the people, places, and events of the civil rights movement, a group of 10 teenagers from University UU Society in Orlando, Fla., took a five-day tour of civil-rights memorials and museums in Georgia and Alabama. One of the participants, describing the tour, said it was “eye-opening that it all really happened and it was more of a movement than a brief turbulence in history.” (Orlando Sentinel – 6.10.13)

Bank Street Unitarian Chapel in Bolton, England—one of about 20 churches in the country to be granted the right to perform same-sex civil partnership ceremonies—is celebrating its first bookings for such ceremonies. (This Is Lancashire – 6.9.13)

In an article about same-sex marriage in Maryland, James Gibbons Walker, of the UU Fellowship of Southern Maryland, talks about his congregation’s support for marriage equality and how he is “very happy” to perform same-sex weddings. (SoMdNews.com – 6.7.13)

Watch a video about the founders of St. Louis who are buried in Bellefontaine Cemetery, including notable Unitarian the Rev. William Greenleaf Elliot. (KTVI – 6.12.13)

The Rev. Dr. Stan Sears, of the Auburn, N.Y., UU Society, reflects on the show “Game of Thrones,” its parallels with our society, and the sexualization of warfare. (The Citizen – 6.9.13)

In an article about parents talking to their kids about sex, Wendy Shaver, a member and former youth director of the Unitarian Church of Harrisburg, Pa., discusses the Our Whole Lives (OWL) program and why she talks openly to her daughter about sex and sexuality. (pennlive.com – 6.9.13)

The Rev. Steve Aschmann, minister of the UU Congregation of Erie, Pa., writes about Unitarian Universalism and the personal “journey of faith.” (Erie Times-News – 6.8.13)

Hundreds of Moral Monday protestors, among them many UUs, gathered in Raleigh, N.C., to speak out against Republican-proposed policies they say will hurt the poor. (The Herald-Sun – 6.10.13)

The UU Church in Meriden, Conn., presented its Humanitarian of the Year award to Sharon Scully. (Meriden Record-Journal – 6.9.13)

UUs in the Media will be on hiatus while I am at General Assembly and will return on June 28. You can follow daily General Assembly news and events on UU World‘s GA blog.

Get Unitarian Universalists in the Media by email. Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner