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Unitarian Universalists in the media

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

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)

Anti-abortion activists invade UU worship, and other UUs in the media

Right-wing activists disrupt moment of silence in New Orleans UU church

A national anti-abortion group interrupted Sunday worship at First Unitarian Universalist Church of New Orleans, La., during a moment of silence for a recently deceased member to advocate their pro-life stance. The Rev. Deanna Vandiver, guest speaker at the Sunday service, encourages the community to stand on the side of love. (Think Progress - 7.23.14)

Related stories include:

“Anti-abortion fanatics invade a church service. Where’s the outrage?” (LA Times - 7.23.14)

“Anti-abortion group harasses Unitarian church during moment of silence for dead member” (Raw Story - 7.23.14)

“Benham group disrupts ‘Synagogue of Satan’ Unitarian Universalist worship services, receives proclamation from mayor” (Right Wing Watch - 7.4.14)

UUA, other faith communities urge Congress to halt deportations

The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) and other national religious organizations are expressing concern for unaccompanied children on the U.S.-Mexico border. Opposition to proposals for expedited deportation of migrant families was expressed in a letter to Congress to address what some are calling a growing moral crisis. (New York Times - 7.23.14)

Supporters call for unity in welcoming unaccompanied minors and refugees

A Massachusetts community has come out in support of unaccompanied minors after city officials voiced concern over overwhelming numbers of refugees in the local school system. The Rev. Victoria Weinstein of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Greater Lynn stood on the City Hall steps in support of the city and her neighbors who speak many languages. (ItemLive.com - 7.23.14)

More news from UU congregations

First Church in Jamaica Plain, Mass., is taking steps to fully divest itself of stock holdings in fossil fuel companies. Last month the Board of Trustees unanimously passed a resolution to immediately remove all investments in fossil fuels and prohibit the purchase of any new fossil fuel stock. (Jamaica Plain Gazette - 7.18.14)

A social justice project of the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Indiana, Pa., is helping to fight hunger by taking part in a county-wide program to meet the needs of elementary school children at risk. (Indiana Gazette - 7.7.14)

UU youth from congregations in Texas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma came together for the second annual local service project at UBarU camp and conference center near Kerrville, Tex. This year’s project had youth working with the organization Southwest Llama Rescue. (news-journal.com - 7.1.14)

Evolution Camp celebrates science, and other UUs in the media

Evolution Camp offers summer programming unique in area

First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church of Springfield, Mo., sponsored an Evolution Camp organized by religious education director Jennifer Lara, who created the program from others used in UU churches. Parents throughout the area took advantage of the opportunity the camp offered to kids who love science and filled the roster in just a few days. (Springfield News-Leader - 7.11.14)

Other evolution camp stories:

“Vacation Evolution School? This Unitarian Universalist Camp May Shock You” (Charisma News - 7.14.14)

“Ken Ham Criticizes Unitarian Church’s ‘Evolution Camp’ for Children; ‘Shocked’ at Assemblies of God Presence” (The Christian Post - 7.14.14)

Read more about UU summer camps for children: “The only place I can really be” (UU World – Summer 2013) 

UU retreats and conference centers highlighted

The Unitarian Universalist conference center Star Island, located off the New Hampshire coast, is installing enough solar panels to power nearly 30 homes. They hope to be a model for the future of sustainable energy use on the mainland. (New Hampshire Public Radio - 7.14.14)

Members of GAYLA, a program of the Ferry Beach Park Association’s Retreat and Conference Center in Saco, Maine, reflect on how the organization has spent years offering a safe space for gay men to relax and rejuvenate themselves once a year. The Association has a proud historic connection to Unitarian Universalism. (Sun Monthly - 7.13.14)

More news from UU congregations

A group of more than 300 members of All Souls Unitarian Church in Washington, D.C., gathered in front of the Supreme Court steps to call attention to the need to strengthen voter protections nationwide. The flash mob event included a musical medley of justice songs. (HRC Blog - 7.11.14)

Volunteers from the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Silver City, N.Mex., have joined other local churches to support the children involved in the humanitarian crisis at the U.S. border with Mexico. The group is taking donations of a variety of goods, including food and clothes, to help care for the immigrants on a short-term basis. (Silver City Sun-News - 7.15.14)

The Unitarian Universalist Church in Chattanooga, Tenn., was named an early adopter in the community of environmentally sustainable initiatives. The congregation has installed solar panels, which enable them to sell the electricity they do not use to the Tennessee Valley Authority and supplement their income. (timesfreepress.com - 7.13.14)

Work begins this month on renovations at First Parish Unitarian Universalist in Arlington, Mass., to expand its buildings to accommodate the growing number of members and non-members using the space. Congregation members raised $2 million for the upgrades. (The Arlington Advocate - 7.14.14)

 

Religious opposition to religious exemptions, and other UUs in the media

Hobby Lobby opinion is not the opinion of all religious people

The Rev. Emmy Lou Belcher, retired minister of DuPage Unitarian Universalist Church in Naperville, Ill., joined clergy and others for a protest outside a local Hobby Lobby store. The effort, which included handing out condoms, was intended to show that not all religious people support the U.S. Supreme Court’s position in the recent Hobby Lobby case. (Daily Herald - 7.3.14)

Other Hobby Lobby protest stories include:

“Activists Hand Out Condoms at Hobby Lobby to Protest Supreme Court Decision—Their Profession Though Might Surprise You” (The Blaze - 7.4.14)

“Even Clergy Are Against the Hobby Lobby Decision—And They’re Protesting in an Unexpected Way” (News.Mic.com - 7.4.14)

“Culture War Notes From All Over” (The American Conservative - 7.4.14)

“Small protest held outside Naperville Hobby Lobby over Supreme Court decision” (Naperville Sun - 7.2.14)

The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) joined over 100 other faith leaders and groups in signing a letter urging President Obama to oppose religious exemptions as he considers anti-discrimination policies in federal contracts. (Religion News Service - 7.8.14)

News from UU congregations

Unity Temple in Oak Park, Ill., named a UUA Breakthrough Congregation in 2008, shares how giving away the money they collect each Sunday has increased their pledge drive by 14 percent. One member said the practice has shifted the congregation’s way of thinking from one of poverty to abundance. (OakPark.com - 7.8.14)

When the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Somerset Hills in Somerville, N.J., moved into their new building, they purposely delayed dedicating it until renovations were completed that made it welcoming and accessible to all people. Each Sunday, they light a candle and acknowledge the progress they have made toward this goal. (centraljersey.com - 7.7.14)

After deciding as a congregation to take steps to be more environmentally sustainable, members of the Unitarian Universalist Church in Bloomington, Ill., learned that they could do even more if they became certified as a Green Sanctuary congregation by the UUA. They are actively completing a number of projects to achieve that goal. (pantagraph.com - 7.9.14)

The Shelter Neck Unitarian Universalist Camp in Burgaw, N.C., is a summer camp and retreat center with a rich historical connection to early Universalism in North Carolina and the Unitarian Universalist faith movement today. (StarNewsOnline.com - 7.4.14)

UUs vote for divestment, and other UUs in the media

Shareholder activism continues as part of resolution

In an overwhelming vote, UUs at the 2014 General Assembly in Providence, R.I., passed a resolution to divest the UUA’s Common Endowment Fund of shares in fossil fuel companies, while still maintaining ownership of enough shares to continue their work of shareholder advocacy. (Providence Journal – 6.29.14)

A delegate who participated in the vote for divestment during General Assembly noted that this move was one tactic in a larger strategy to work against our overdependence on fossil fuels. Well-known climate activist Bill McKibben also applauded the vote. (MintPressNews.com – 6.30.14)

Other articles on UUA divestment include:

“Unitarians Go Fossil Fuel Free With Divestment Resolution” (EcoWatch -  6.30.14)

“Unitarian Universalists Divest from Fossil Fuels!” (Eden Keeper – 7.2.14)

“Unitarian Universalists divest from fossil fuels” (Fairfield Citizen – 6.30.14)

Hobby Lobby case is politically motivated

In response to the recent Supreme Court ruling in favor of the religious freedom of corporations, the Rev. Marlin Lavanhar of All Souls Unitarian Church in Tulsa, Okla., observes that this ruling now makes it possible for corporations to use religion as a pretext for other political aims. (Tulsa World – 7.1.14)

Even Millennials will eventually need a religious community

Beacon Press author Chris Stedman interviews the Rev. Galen Guengerich, senior minister of All Souls Unitarian Church in New York City, on the necessary balance of science and reason and the importance of belonging to a specifically religious community. (Religion News Service – 7.2.14)

UUs support their local LGBT communities

The Rev. Jeff Liebmann, minister of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Midland, Mich., received the Champion of Pride award from Perceptions Saginaw Valley, a local LGBT rights organization. Liebmann was honored for his active and public support of the LGBT community as a faith leader. (mlive.com – 6.26.14)

Two Unitarian Universalist ministers in Pennsylvania applaud recent legal changes making same-sex marriage legal in the Commonwealth. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – 6.30.14)

Members of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fort Myers, Fla., held a public witness event to show their support for same-sex marriage lawsuits in the state. (Fox 4 – 6.29.14)

Thousands of UUs gather in Rhode Island, and other UUs in the Media

During its annual General Assembly (GA), held this year in Providence, R.I., the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) joined the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee at a rally outside the Renaissance Hotel to show low-wage workers some love. The crowd swelled to 250 people at one point, the majority of whom were GA attendees. (Providence Journal – 6.26.14)

Local Unitarian Universalist ministers, the Rev. Ellen Quadgraas and the Rev. James Ford, spoke at the rally outside the Renaissance Hotel on Thursday. Ford’s leadership on this issue helped guide the UUA to cancel its contract with the Renaissance prior to GA because of the hotel’s refusal to engage with workers over pay and union issues. (rifuture.org – 6.26.14)

The Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau was happy to report that attendance by 4,600 Unitarian Universalists at their General Assembly in downtown Providence would likely bring more than $4 million dollars in revenue to their city. (Providence Journal – 6.26.14)

The UUA will be the first ever faith sponsor of Providence’s downtown community and arts festival, WaterFire. The event will serve as the public witness component that is included each year at GA. Alex Kapitan, the UUA staff member organizing the event, joined WaterFire spokesperson Brownwyn Dannenfelser to discuss the Love Reaches Out theme. (wpri.com – 6.27.14)

 

Service Committee leader urges transparency for Haiti aid, and other UUs in the media

UUSC’s Schulz says Haitians continue to face challenges

President and CEO of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, the Rev. Dr. William F. Schulz, has joined with 22 other organizations to strongly urge passage of the Assessing Progress in Haiti Act, requiring the State Department to show how U.S. aid to Haiti is being spent. (Huffington Post – 6.13.14)

UU ministers speak out on global justice issues

Given the urgency of global climate change and the need for religious people to care for this world and its people, the Rev. Ann Schranz of Monte Vista Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Montclair, Calif., hopes that our shared religious values will help us collaborate on these sorts of important issues. (Daily Bulletin – 6.13.14)

The Rev. Mark Kiyimba of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Kampala, Uganda, is traveling around the United States to share the story of crisis in his country around the oppression of gay people. Because American evangelicals are partly responsible for creating this crisis, Kiyimba hopes to convince Americans that they have a role to play in finding a solution. (Bennington Banner – 6.14.14)

News from the congregations

Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church in Bethesda, Md., will hold an interfaith event to honor the memory of three murdered civil rights workers fifty years ago in Mississippi. They hope to use this occasion as a call to action for attendees to urge Congress to move forward on the Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014. (Gazette.net – 6.20.14)

The Rev. Arthur Vaeni, known for his role in helping his congregation, Olympia UU Congregation in Washington, create the innovative Quixote Village homeless community, led one of his final services on Sunday. (The Bellingham Herald – 6.15.14)

Members of Unitarian Universalist Meeting of South Berkshire in Housatonic, Mass., celebrated worship service in their new home in the former Housatonic Congregational Church. A capital campaign raised enough funds to help purchase the building and have additional funds set aside for repairs and upgrades as needed. (The Berkshire Eagle – 6.17.14)

Looking back at the 60-year history of the Unitarian Church of Edmonton in Alberta, Canada, the congregation celebrates the creation of a religious community in a region that previously lacked a strong liberal religious identity, and the early support they received from their headquarters in Boston. (Edmonton Journal – 6.13.14)

UUs continue push for marriage equality

Members of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville, N.C., Carol Taylor and Betty Mack are lead plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. They argue that the state’s current laws violate their religious freedom because it denies them the right to a religious marriage ceremony. (Asheville Citizen-Times - 6.13.14)

The Rev. Kelly Crocker of First Unitarian Society of Madison, Wisc., performed one of the first legal same-sex marriages in the state when she married Christine Pasinski and Nancy Smiegowski, who have been a couple for 29 years. Crocker hopes weddings for many other same-sex couples will follow. (nbc15.com – 6.10.14)

Midwest UUs celebrate marriage equality, and other UUs in the media

Midwest ministers eager to perform same-sex weddings

The Rev. Suzelle Lynch of the Unitarian Universalist Church West in Brookfield, Wisc., made it her mission to be there for couples waiting to be married when a U.S. District Court judge ruled the state’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. Lynch’s congregation has been a vocal supporter of marriage equality for more than a decade. (WISN 12 - 6.10.14)

The Rev. Roger Bertschausen, of Fox Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Appleton, Wisc., organized a gathering at the courthouse to support those who wished to wed, and he performed the county’s first legal same-sex marriage. “It’s a great day in Winnebago County,” said Bertschausen. (postcrescent.com - 6.12.14)

To celebrate marriage equality in Illinois, Tree of Life Unitarian Universalist Congregation in McHenry hosted a special church service and wedding ceremony for four local lesbian couples. Minister of the congregation, the Rev. Sean Parker Dennison, officiated. (Windy City Times - 6.10.14)

The Rev. Bill Freeman, who became well-known recently for his role in marrying same-sex couples while it was legal in Michigan, announced that he would be leaving Harbor Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Muskegon, Mich., to become senior minister at the United Church of Christ in Menifee, Calif. (mlive.com - 6.11.14)

Other marriage equality stories include:

“Four lesbian couples make history, marry in McHenry” (mysuburbanlife.com - 6.8.14)

“Janesville women record Rock County’s first same-sex marriage Monday” (Gazette Xtra - 6.9.14)

“They preach the same scripture, but churches have very different platforms on same-sex marriage” (fox6now.com - 6.10.14)

UUs active in interfaith justice efforts in their communities

Unitarian Universalists in Williamsburg, Va., are taking part in a public forum to support expanding Medicaid benefits in their state. Members of the Williamsburg Unitarian Universalists believe this is an important part of their effort to be visible in support of justice causes. (The Virginia Gazette - 6.6.14)

The Rev. Emilie Boggis, of the Unitarian Church in Summit, N.J., is currently serving as president of the Summit Interfaith Council, which is considering creating a “Green Circle” to provide support for community-wide environmental programming. (Independent Press - 6.12.14)

The Rev. Barbara Jarrell of All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church in Shreveport, La., added her voice to others in supporting payday loan reform legislation. She is working with Northern and Central Louisiana Interfaith, which advocates for human rights and economic justice issues. (Shreveport Times - 6.6.14)

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