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Unitarian Universalists in the media

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

UU church is clean energy leader, and other UUs in the media

UU church is clean energy leader

Recognized as a clean energy leader, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Elgin, Ill., will be one of more than 60 sites across the state to be featured on the Illinois Solar Tour this month. Coordinated nationally by the American Solar Energy Society, the statewide tour demonstrates how innovative technologies used locally can benefit the environment on a global level. (The Courier-News – 9.29.14)

Raising awareness for domestic violence in Maryland

The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Harford County, Md., will host its annual Silent Witness Program in observance of Domestic Violence Awareness month. Wooden silhouettes representing real victims of domestic violence will be unveiled during a special ceremony on the lawn of the church. (Baltimore Sun – 10.3.14)

OUT MetroWest expands program, mission

A gay, lesbian, and transgender youth support program launched three years ago by the Unitarian Universalist Church of Wellesley, Mass., now has a new name and expanded mission. The newly formed nonprofit, OUT MetroWest, plans to increase support services for middle school students and teens in need. Executive Director Jack Lewis said he will seek “community involvement and input from the schools and faith leaders’’ in order to provide a safe place for teens to explore questions of gender and orientation. (Wicked Local – 9.28.14)

Pennsylvania minister shows support for minimum-wage hike

The Rev. Peter Friedrichs of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Delaware County, Pa., joined local politicians, union representatives, and community groups at the Delaware County Courthouse earlier this week to show support for raising the minimum wage. (Philly.com – 10.1.14)

Summit UUs rally en masse for climate action

Two hired buses helped carry over 100 members of the Unitarian Church in Summit, N.J., to the People’s Climate March in New York City late last month to stand alongside the estimated 350,000 participants calling on world leaders for immediate climate action. “It was inspiring to be part of an ever growing stream of folks committed to saving our place on the planet,” said senior interim minister the Rev. Terry Sweetser. (Alternative Press – 9.29.14)

Church hires first full-time, female minister

A central Massachusetts church hired the first full-time, female minister in its 272-year history. Taking over the pulpit at First Church in Sterling, an interdenominational church of Unitarian Universalists and members of the United Church of Christ, the Rev. Robin Bartlett will now focus on establishing an “open and affirming process” and will make a public covenant of welcome to all in the church, regardless of sexual orientation. (The Landmark – 10.2.14)

UU church added to Virginia Landmarks Register and other UUs in the media

UU church may become national landmark

The Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington, Va., has been named an historic landmark in the Virginia Landmarks Register, and may soon also be named to the National Register of Historic Places. Built and designed in 1964 by architect Charles Goodman, the structure reflects the liberal and progressive beliefs of the congregation. “We’re hoping by it being put on the national registry, people will realize that the physical presence of a group in a community matters,” said the Rev. Linda Olson Peebles. (ARL Now – 9.23.14)

Waging peace in Connecticut

Members of First Unitarian Universalist Church in Bridgewater, Conn., took to the streets last week with signs and slogans to mark their 10th annual Celebration for Peace in conjunction with the United Nations International Day of Peace. The march was accompanied by the support of passers-by who honked car horns and cheered in a show of solidarity. “It’s kind of been a tough year for peace with all of the un-peaceful things going on in the world right now,” said church member Betty Gilson. “We saw a lot of people in the world waging war, so we decided we should wage peace.” (Wicked Local – 9.22.14)

Tufts University creates first humanist staff position

A newly created humanist chaplain staff position at Tufts University has become the first of its kind in the United States. UU minister and Tufts University chaplain, the Rev. Gregory McGonigle, was responsible for developing the trailblazing decision. (Religious News Service – 9.3.14)

Remembering the Sharps

For their efforts in rescuing Jews from Nazi terror during World War II, Martha Sharp and the Rev. Waitstill Sharp are two of only four Americans honored by Israel’s Yad Vashem national museum of the Holocaust. The couple’s humanitarian efforts are the focus of the documentary film Two Who Dared: The Sharps’ War. (Toledo Blade – 9.20.14)

Volunteers construct new rain garden on church grounds

Volunteers from First Unitarian Universalist Church of Rochester, Minn., and others have helped to avoid erosion caused by heavy rains by constructing a rain garden on the church property. Filled with donated and purchased plants, including many native species, the rain garden “fulfills one of our missions, to be environmentally responsible,” said project organizer Key Eberman. (PostBulletin.com – 9.23.14)

See related: Evanston Unitarian church installs rain gardens (uuworld.org – 9.1.14) 

More environment news from UUs:

UN Climate Summit prompts People’s Climate March, hundreds block Wall St. (Latin Post – 9.24.14)

Companies to make climate pledges at UN Summit (PNJ.com – 9.22.14)

UUs march for climate change awareness, and other UUs in the media

UUs march for action on climate change 

The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Church in Elkhart, Ind., hosted participants in the Great March for Climate Action, a cross-country march to raise awareness for climate justice. Some of the marchers will take a short break from their journey to travel to New York City to take part in the People’s Climate March on September 21. (The Elkhart Truth – 9.12.14)

Other climate march news:

Updates from the People’s Climate Train to New York City (uuworld.org – 9.16.14)

Why we march: Five individuals share their stories (The Indypendent – 9.12.14)

Climate vigil to show solidarity with march in New York City (Daily Record – 9.16.14)

Religious groups mobilize at People’s Climate March (Huffington Post – 9.17.14)

Volunteer group helps children learn to read, write

After funding for kindergarten aides was cut three years ago, Unitarian Universalists volunteered their time to successfully continue mentoring children in their reading and writing skills at the Morris Street School in Danbury, Conn. Now the program is expanding to other district elementary schools. Founded by retired IBM executive and UU Charles Schott, the Morris Street School Project and its volunteers have become an important part in the lives of the students at the school. (News Times – 9.15.15)

Romanian Unitarians strengthen bonds in the U.S.

Earlier this month, Follen Community Church in East Lexington, Mass., welcomed visitors from its partner church in Alsófelsoszentmihály, a rural farming village in the Transylvanian region of Romania, for a ten day tour filled with social and religious events to help form a stronger bond between the two partner congregations. (Wicked Local – 9.16.14)

Church’s potluck for the needy resumes

A weekly potluck picnic for the homeless and needy families will resume early next month after being put on hold since Labor Day. The five-year-old program hosted by the Unitarian Universalist Church of St. Petersburg, Fla., was put on hold due to a broken air conditioner at the church and complaints from neighbors about the increased presence of homeless people in the area. (St. Petersburg Tribune – 9.16.14)

 

UUs push for minimum wage increase, and other UUs in the media

Maine UU state advocacy network pushes for minimum wage increase

The Maine Unitarian Universalist State Advocacy Network and the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee have partnered to push for an increase in the federal minimum wage through a campaign called “Wage Outrage,” that calls on Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins to help resurrect a bill that would raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour. “It’s just anti-American to think that a person could work that much—that many hours—and not be able to support their family,” said Dale McCormick, Augusta city council member and co-chair of the Maine UU State Advocacy Network. (MPBN News – 9.4.14)

More on minimum wage:

Las Cruces councilors to decide path for $10.10 minimum wage measure (Las Cruces Dun-News – 9.6.14)

Advocated unveil ‘Living Wage’ proposal for Sonoma County (The Press Democrat – 9.8.14)

Church offers community financial literacy program

The Rev. Ian White Maher of Original Blessing in Greenpoint, N.Y., a new Unitarian Universalist congregation, has partnered with financial planners in his Brooklyn neighborhood to develop a five-part seminar series called “Money Matters.” The seminar addresses important topics such as budgeting and goal setting, and also incorporates the societal and spiritual aspects of money, commerce, and the economy. “We explore the psychology behind money and the economic system that keeps us running in circles and tied to jobs we don’t like because we are afraid of our financial futures,” Maher said. “When earning more money becomes our only goal, it is very hard to feel satisfaction with our lives, particularly when our money habits have us constantly reacting and never really planning.” (CNBC – 9.10.14)

More news from UUs and congregations:

A recent pride rally in the NOTO Arts District of Topeka, Kans., drew about 500 people to celebrate the LGBT community. The event featured speakers from event planners, teens from the local LGBT community, and others, including the Rev. Sarah Oglesby-Dunegan of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Topeka, who praised the growing acceptance in the community and urged the crowd to “stand on the side of love.” (Topeka Capitol Journal - 9.6.14)

A scholarship program from Aiken Unitarian Universalist Church in Aiken, S.C., and Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) recently recognized its first recipients who have demonstrated the PFLAG values of education, support, and advocacy through excellence in their educational achievements and leadership activities. (Aiken Standard – 9.8.14)

UUs support woman seeking sanctuary, and other UUs in the media

County vote supports woman seeking sanctuary

Dozens of people from ten different Unitarian Universalist churches and other faith communities recently gathered in support of a resolution to close the deportation case of a Tucson, Ariz., woman who has received sanctuary at a local church. Pima County supervisors voted 3-1 in favor of the resolution. In an email message, an ICE spokeswoman explained: “Essentially this means ICE has not granted a stay of her court-ordered removal, but the agency is exercising discretion by not taking her into custody.” (Arizona Daily Star – 9.2.14)

Demonstrations aimed at moving legislators to act

A prayer rally was held at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus as part of a “Moral Week of Action” event that took place across twelve states and aimed to move legislators to act on a variety of issues, including economic justice, racial equality, and women’s rights. The Rev. Lynda Smith of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Athens, Ohio, was in attendance. (Examiner – 8.29.14)

Related:

Unitarian church to hold conference on immigration in Ohio (IndeOnline.com – 9.3.14)

Minister’s book examines ‘Naked Truth’ of aging

A 2012 calendar featuring twelve older men posing in tastefully nude photographs has now led to a new book, The Naked Truth About Aging. The book’s author, and former calendar model Hugo Hollerorth is a retired Unitarian Universalist minister who originally posed for the 2012 calendar to raise funds for his church, First Parish in Framingham, Mass. (Boston Globe – 9.4.14)

More news from UUs and congregations

Conflicting stories of the events leading to an LGBT community leader’s arrest by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department have raised the concerns of some local residents. More than a dozen community leaders gathered at a press conference earlier this week calling on local police to investigate the incidents leading to the arrest and the arresting officer who has a history of aggressive interactions with the public. “I think we as a community, we would agree as a baseline standard that we would ask those first responders to first do no harm, don’t make the situation worse,” said the Rev. Jay Leach, minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Charlotte, N.C. (GoQnotes.com – 9.3.14)

All Souls Unitarian Church in Tulsa, Okla., joined a group of local churches to host an interfaith candlelight vigil in response to the deadly shooting of Ferguson, Mo., teen Michael Brown. At least nine religious leaders spoke at the event as candles were lit as a sign of unity in the wake of the violence that swept through Ferguson last month. (NewsOn6.com – 8.31.14)

Committee aims to amend U.S. Constitution, and other UUs in the media

Citizens for Economic Justice argues only human beings are people

An offshoot of the social justice committee of the Unitarian Universalist Society of Fairhaven, Conn., Citizens for Economic Justice, has begun gathering signatures in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which granted free speech protection to the political contributions of corporations. The group is associated with the national Move to Amend organization, which seeks to amend the Constitution so that the Bill of Rights applies only to human beings. Voters in the state’s 10th Bristol District will vote on the amendment in November. (South Coast Today – 8.27.14)

Climate change supporters gather in Iowa

Cross-country marchers visited Davenport, Iowa, earlier this week as part of the Walkers on the Great March for Climate Action. The walkers, who left Los Angeles in March and are expected to reach Washington, D.C., by early November, drew a large crowd of supporters, including members of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Quad-Cities, Davenport. UU minister the Rev. Jay Wolin told those attending “We are one with the universe. If we harm it, we harm ourselves. Let us walk gently upon the earth.” (Quad-City Times – 8.24.14)

Other climate news:

Earth and Spirit: Marching for our climate (Wicked Local – 8.23.14)

More from UUs and congregations

A week after a request to remove a deportation order was denied, fifteen-year Tucson, Ariz., resident Rose Imelda Robles Loreto continues to live in a Tucson church while support for her cause grows. More than 3,250 have signed a website petition asking President Barack Obama to close Loreto’s case. The Rev. Matthew Crary and members of the Santa Rita Choral from the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Amado, Ariz., have launched a website to bolster Loreto and other supporters. (Green Valley News and Sun – 8.24.14)

Disappointed by the latest ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court delaying same-sex marriage in Virginia, the Rev. Scott Sammler-Michael of Accotink Unitarian Universalist Church in Burke, Va., remains prepared to perform wedding ceremonies. “It’s an amazing time to live through all this stuff,” he said, “where it looks like we’ve regressed 40 years; but you take a couple steps forward, a couple steps back. You’ve gotta hope that you can enjoy the show.” (The Connection – 8.27.14)

Same-sex marriage on hold in Virginia, and other UUs in the media

Supreme Court blocks same-sex marriage in Virginia

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed earlier this week to delay an appeals court ruling that would strike down Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage. A constitutional amendment approved by Virginia voters in 2006 banned same-sex marriage and prohibited the recognition of legal marriages performed in other states. A network of state clergy, including the Rev. Linda Olson Peebles of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington, Va., have planned to attend courthouses across the state to begin performing wedding ceremonies once the ban is lifted. “It’s been a long journey,” she said. “We’re letting everybody know we’re going to be ready to join in Virginia moving forward, letting go of its sad history and moving forward.” (CBS News - 8.20.14)

Related stories:

“Clergy preparing for same-sex marriage ceremonies” (NBC 29 – 8.19.14)

“Same-sex marriage in Virginia blocked by Supreme Court” (WSET.com - 8.20.14)

Arizona UUs reach out to immigrants seeking sanctuary

Facing a deportation order, Mexico native Rosa Imelda Robles Loreto has taken sanctuary at the Southside Presbyterian Church in Tucson, Ariz., where community members have gathered in support of the 15-year Tucson resident, including the Rev. Matthew Cray and members of the UU Church in Amado, Ariz.. The Amado congregation has considered becoming a sanctuary church for other immigrants and is looking at how it can address needs in the community. (Green Valley News and Sun – 8.18.14)

Related stories:

“Child migrant crisis prompts some to open their homes” (KGOU.org – 8.17.14)

“Thousands of locals show support for woman in sanctuary” (KVOA.com – 8.21.14)

UUs work for social justice

One hundred people marched in a clergy-organized rally calling for the replacement of St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert P. McCulloch in the wake of the shooting death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown. The Rev. Julie Taylor, rally participant and minister at Emerson Unitarian Universalist Church in Ellisville, Mo., said she had been to Ferguson and believed that clergy there had reduced tensions and saved lives. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch – 8.21.14)

In a Moral Week of Action event, the Rev. Lynda Smith of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Athens, Ohio, joined clergy from various faith traditions in front of the Ohio Statehouse to kick off a week of prayer aimed at encouraging legislators to govern with morality. (Columbus Dispatch – 8.22.14)

One Colorado, the state’s largest gay-rights group, awarded the Rev. Mike Morran of First Unitarian Society of Denver with one of six 2014 Ally Awards in recognition of his “efforts in advancing equality and making a difference in the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Coloradans.” Morran has been officiating commitment ceremonies for LGBT families for 17 years and worked to organize Colorado Clergy for Equality in Marriage. (Denver Post – 8.15.14)

UUs gather nationwide to protest police violence, and other UUs in the media

Silent vigil held for Ferguson teen killed by police

Unitarian Universalist Church of Ogden, Utah, minister the Rev. Shelley Page and dozens of members from various Ogden-area congregations gathered in downtown Ogden this week to hold a silent vigil for Michael Brown, the unarmed teenager who was shot and killed by police in Ferguson, Mo. “(We’re here) to stand in solidarity for people around the nation and the world with those who have fallen to police violence,” said Page. (Standard Examiner - 8.15.14)

Related stories include:

“Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Elkhart holds candlelight vigil for Ferguson” (The Elkhart Truth - 8.15.14)

“Jackson residents take part in vigil for Michael Brown, victims of police brutality in Ferguson, Missouri” (mlive - 8.14.14)

“Vigil planned in McHenry for killed Missouri teen” (Northwest Herald - 8.14.14)

New Jersey congregation helps fund preschool education

The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Somerset Hills, N.J., presented a substantial donation to the Interfaith Hospitality Network of Somerset County to help fund preschool education for children served by the network. Members of the church also serve as volunteers to the network, which provides emergency shelter, transitional housing, and support services to families throughout the county. (nj.com - 8.10.14)

More news from UUs and congregations

The Rev. Marilyn Sewell, minister emerita of First Unitarian Church in Portland, Ore., offers advice on how best to help someone you suspect may be depressed. The first thing? Don’t tell them to count their blessings. (OregonLive.com – 8.12.14)

Members of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Akron, Ohio, focus on three main aspects of social justice ministry to change lives in their community: teen outreach, immigration justice, and food justice. The church was a recent recipient of the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Bennett Award for Human Justice and Social Action. (Akron Beacon Journal – 8.8.14)

An ex-Westboro Baptist Church member has come forward to offer advice to those seeking to dismantle the Kansas-based sect known for spreading anti-gay propaganda and messages of hate. “Create a dialogue of love,” Zach Phelps-Roper said in his own “Ask Me Anything” interview on popular website Reddit. “If you truly want the church to dissolve, that is what you need to do. You need to sincerely show them love.” Phelps-Roper now attends a UU church. (New York Daily News – 8.10.14)

Faith leaders, immigration activists arrested at White House, and other UUs in the media

Deportation protest ends in arrests in Washington, D.C.

More than 100 faith leaders and immigration activists were arrested last week in Washington, D.C., as part of a larger demonstration protesting the deportations of undocumented immigrants. Director of the Unitarian Universalist College of Social Justice the Rev. Kathleen McTigue led the civil disobedience action along with other interfaith leaders, calling on President Obama and Congress to halt the deportations of unaccompanied children escaping the violence of drug cartels in Central America. (Huffington Post - 7.31.14)

Related stories include:

“More than 100 religious, immigration activists arrested at White House” (Religion News Service - 7.31.14)

“White House protest ends in arrests; Congress balks on border funds” (Tucson Sentinel - 8.1.14)

“Religious leaders arrested outside White House during immigration rally” (NBC 4 - 7.31.14)

“More than 100 faith leaders and immigrant rights activists arrested in Washington, D.C.” (Telesur - 7.31.14)

Local church groups support unaccompanied children

A group of 70 church-organized supporters, including the Rev. Robert Murphy of First Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Falmouth, Mass., gathered at a Cape Cod rotary to show support of Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick’s plan to use Camp Edwards on the Joint Base Cape Cod as a shelter for unaccompanied immigrant children. (Cape Cod Times - 8.3.14)

Related stories include:

“Austin, TX, wants to help illegal aliens” (Austin American-Statesmen - 8.7.14)

More news from UU congregations

LGBT activist the Rev. Mark Kiyimba of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Kampala, Uganda, visited the UU Church of Pensacola, Fla., earlier this week to speak out about the harsh anti-gay policies in his native country. (Pensacola News Journal - 8.3.14)

Hundreds gathered in Cincinnati to show support for marriage equality, marking the opening arguments for Michigan and other Midwest states in the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. The Rev. Mary Moore of Miami Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Dayton, Ohio, was present along with members of the congregation. “We believe in the inherent worth and dignity of everyone,” said Rev. Moore, “It’s not fair because I perform services for same-gender couples but they don’t get the same rights as heterosexual couples.” (Detroit News - 8.5.14)

Responding to hate in New Orleans, and other UUs in the media

UU minister discusses the violation of a New Orleans church

In a segment on The Rachel Maddow Show, the Rev. Deanna Vandiver of First Unitarian Universalist Church of New Orleans, La., offers a firsthand account of the hateful attack on the congregation’s Sunday worship service by right-wing anti-abortion activists. (MSNBC – 7.29.14)

Related stories include:

“Time, space for worship sacred” (New Orleans Advocate – 7.29.14)

“Why did anti-choice activists harass Unitarians in New Orleans?” (RH Reality Check – 7.28.14)

“Choice Vigil: Group responds to anti-abortion protestors at Duncan Plaza rally” (Nola Defender – 7.24.14)

Remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki victims

With the hope of abolishing nuclear weapons and bringing awareness to the issue of climate change, the social justice committee of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock in Manhasset, N.Y., will hold a special commemoration for the victims of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in conjunction with the Great Neck chapter of a pacifist nonprofit organization. (The Island Now7.25.14)

More news from UU congregations

After the Unitarian Universalist Association voted to divest from fossil fuels earlier in June, First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee joined the growing movement to divest ownership of fossil-fuel stock, along with many other faith groups, colleges, universities, and businesses. (Wisconsin Gazette - 7.24.14)

A meditation group was cancelled earlier this week at First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Antonio, Tex., after thieves stole copper wiring from the building. Local police report a string of similar break-ins in the area. (mysanantonio.com - 7.28.14)

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