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Unitarian Universalists in the media

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

Struggling economy, community involvement, and indoor plumbing

Struggling economy hits congregations
Summit UU Fellowship in Santee, Calif., appears in a story about churches feeling the effects of the poor economy on attendance and giving. (San Diego Union Tribune – 8.31.08)

UUs get involved with their communities
The UU Society of Black Hawk County in Cedar Falls, Iowa, grows and sells fresh produce to help support the Northeast Iowa Food Bank. (Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier – Waterloo, IA 8.30.08)

The UU Congregation of Montclair, N.J., embraces the wisdom and whimsy of Dr. Seuss at its annual Seuss-themed community event, the UUville Community Fair. (Montclair Times – Montclair, NJ 9.4.08)

Celebrating the joy of indoor plumbing
Members of the Todmorden Unitarian Church in England celebrate the reopening of their historic building after completing extensive renovations and refurbishment, including restoration of the stained glass, repair of a World War I memorial, and the installation of toilets for the first time in the building’s history. (Todmorden Today – Todmorden, England, UK 9.4.08)

Political parties
A party at the Bull Run UU Church in Manassas, Va., was one of the more than 1,000 Democratic National Convention-watching parties hosted by Democrats throughout state on the night Sen. Barack Obama gave his nomination acceptance speech. (Inside NoVA – Prince William, VA 8.28.08)

Ministerial changes
The Rev. Fred Small, a former environmental lawyer and folksinger-songwriter and now UU minister, has been called to serve as senior minister of the First Parish in Cambridge, Mass. (Somerville Journal – MA 8.30.08)

The Rev. Neal Anderson, a former teacher, was recently named the new minister of the UU Fellowship of Northern Nevada. (Carson Times – Reno, NV 8.30.08)

Seeing the Dalai Lama, UU in Florida school board race, paper ballots, and more

Minister makes pilgrimage to see the Dalai Lama, in Wisconsin
The Rev. Ed Hardy, a practicing Buddhist and minister of the First Parish UU Church in Bridgewater, Mass., reflects on his own beliefs, and his enlightening visit to Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader. (Norwich Bulletin – Norwich, CT 8.28.08)

Indian River UU still in school board race
Claudia Jimenez, RE director of the UU Fellowship of Vero Beach, Fla., received the most votes in a recent county school board election, enough to stay on the ballot in a run-off contest in the general election. (TCPalm - FL 8.26.08)

UU activists promote paper balloting
As Californians approach casting paper ballots in November election, a small group in Napa Valley discusses problems of electronic voting systems in presidential elections. (Napa Valley Register – CA 8.27.08)

West Coast coverage of last month’s church shooting in Knoxville
A story in the national news department of a publication that serves the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community follows developments in the lethal July 27 shooting at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church, up to last week’s indictment of Jim David Adkisson. (Gay and Lesbian Times – San Diego 8.28.08)

Other congregations and ministers in the news
The Rev. Deborah Mero of the Unitarian Fellowship of West Chester, Pa., is one of the women featured in a story about being a female member of the clergy. (Chester DailyLocal.com – PA  8.24.08)

UUs in Rockton, Ill., are planning a fall open house at their new sanctuary, an old schoolhouse. (Rockford Register Star – IL 8.26.08)

A local nursery school, a longtime tenant of the UU Church of Rockville, Md., has been displaced by church growth and faces difficulty in finding a new space. (Business Gazette – Gaithersburg, MD 8.27.08)

A columnist sympathetic to the church writes that the adversarial neighbor of the UU Fellowship of San Luis Obispo County, Calif., apparently moved away last year. (The congregation has plans to build a new church in Edna Valley.) (San Luis Obispo Tribune – CA 8.28.08)

Also in the news
A majority of shareholders at Valero Energy supported a “say on pay” proposal; the resolution was submitted by the UUA. (RiskMetrics – Rockville, MD 8.25.08)

More violence in Knoxville, Mexican mission trip, New Zealand renovation, and more

Adkisson indicted by grand jury in Knoxville church shootings
In Knox County, Tenn., a grand jury has indicted Jim David Adkisson on ten separate counts, including two first-degree murder charges, stemming from the July 27 church shooting at the Tennessee Valley UU Church; the FBI has also opened a civil rights probe. The 58-year old man is being held in jail on a $1 million bond. The Rev. Chris Buice, minister of the church, says indictment moves justice process forward. (Knoxville News Sentinel – Knoxville, TN 8.21.08) A trial has been scheduled to begin March 18, 2009. (Knoxville News Sentinel – Knoxville, TN 8.22.08)

More violence in Knoxville
A high school student shot and killed a classmate in Knoxville’s Central High School on August 21. The Rev. Chris Buice was taking his daughter to the school when the shooting occurred. He offered reflections on responding to trauma in the August 22 Knoxville News Sentinel. (Knoxville News Sentinel – Knoxville, TN 8.21.08, 8.22.08)

Other Knoxville-related news

Commentary on the Knoxville church shooting
Op-eds and commentary pieces continue to reaffirm UU values and express sympathy for the TVUUC victims. Among this week’s crop:

Other congregations in the news
The Rev. Scott Sammler-Michael begins his tenure as the new minister at the Accotink UU Church in Burke, Va. (Burke Connection – McLean VA, 8.13.08)

Teenagers travel to a remote village in Mexico from First Unitarian Church of South Bend, Ind., on a service mission to repair the roof of a clinic there. The trip was organized by Global Citizens Network of St. Paul, Minn. (South Bend Tribune – South Bend IN, 8.20.08)

A member of the UU Church of Fresno, Calif., writes about joining other UUs in the state to collectively lower their carbon dioxide emissions by a million pounds by Earth Day, 2009. (Fresno Bee – Fresno CA, 8.16.08; sub req’d)

Youth at Abraham Lincoln UU congregation, in Springfield, Ill., raise awareness with a tent for Darfur. (The State Journal-Register – Springfield IL, 8.21.08)

The historic Auckland, New Zealand, Unitarian Church celebrates the completion of a $100,000 renovation project. (Auckland City Harbor News – Auckland NZ, 8.22.08)

Chris Walton contributed to this week’s roundup.

Mourning second Knoxville victim; shooter considers insanity plea

UU World‘s coverage of the July 27 church shootings at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville continues this week with two stories: Knoxville church adapts to aftermath of shooting (Jane Greer, 8.11.08) and Fund raises $41,000 for Knoxville shooting victims (Jane Greer, 8.11.08). The Unitarian Universalist Association also raised funds for a full-page ad in the Sunday, August 10, New York Times.

Here’s a guide to news coverage from other media since our last roundup on August 6:

Local coverage:

Coverage elsewhere:


Knoxville church rededicated; shooter waives hearing

Our coverage of the deadly shooting at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville continues with a roundup of the latest stories and commentary. Former ministers of TVUUC converged in Knoxville on Sunday, August 3, as the congregation rededicated its sanctuary, where two people were killed and six others were injured when a gunman opened fire on July 27. Video of the rededication service is online at the WBIR-TV website. News organizations in Knoxville and throughout the U.S. continue to report on the shooting and its aftermath.

The accused shooter, Jim David Adkisson, is being held on first-degree murder charges. His defense attorney is preparing an insanity defense. Adkisson waived his right to a preliminary hearing on Wednesday.

Church rededication:

Criminal investigation:

Local responses:

Coverage elsewhere:

  • In wake of shooting, is it safe to be a liberal? (Gresham Outlook – Gresham OR, 8.5.08)
  • Houses of worship seek safety, security (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – Pittsburgh PA, 8.5.08)
  • When violence invaded worship spaces (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – Pittsburgh PA, 8.5.08)
  • You are not alone: Local Unitarian Universalist church receives moral support (Daily Times – Maryville TN, 8.4.08)
  • Commentary:

    Second day of Knoxville shooting coverage

    UU World is tracking the ongoing news coverage of the deadly shootings this past Sunday at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville. Yesterday’s post included the first 24 hours of news coverage; the second 24 hours of coverage appears below.

    UU World‘s first news story was published Monday evening: Two Unitarian Universalists killed in church shooting (Donald E. Skinner, 7.28.08). UUA.org coverage continues here. The UUA and the Thomas Jefferson District announced earlier today that they are setting up a Knoxville relief fund. The UUA has also launched a blog to collect condolences and statements of support.

    Community vigil and interfaith responses:

    Explaining Unitarian Universalism:

    The victims:

    Criminal investigation:

    The Knoxville News Sentinel has set up a special section for its Knoxville Church Shooting coverage.

    Two killed in Knoxville church shooting; tenting for Darfur; and more

    Two die in shotgun attack on Knoxville church
    Breaking news, 7.28.08: Two people are dead and six more were injured Sunday morning when a man opened fire with a shotgun on the congregation at the Tennessee Valley UU Church in Knoxville, Tenn. Approximately 200 people from both UU congregations in the area had gathered for a children’s performance of “Annie Jr.” when a man police identified as Jim Adkisson entered the church and began shooting. The gunman is being held on murder charges. The FBI is investigating the shootings as a hate crime; Adkisson left behind a letter suggesting that he targeted the church due to “‘recent publicity’ the church had received regarding its ‘liberal stance’ on things,” according to WBIR.

    Local coverage:

    UUA President William G. Sinkford issued a statement about the shootings Sunday afternoon. Members of the UUA Trauma Response ministry and other leaders hurried to Knoxville to assist the congregations. —Christopher L. Walton

    Man shoots at UU church in West Virginia
    A twenty-year-old Charleston, W.V., man arrested and accused of firing a rifle at the church next door, is being held in jail. The shooting damaged windows and the interior of the UU Congregation Church, according to the complaint filed with authorities. (Daily Mail – Charleston, WV 7.25.08)

    Virginia UUs protest execution with inclusive vigil
    Following lethal injection of Christopher Scott Emmet, Harrisonburg, Va., UUs hold vigil for the convicted killer, his victim, their families, and everyone involved in the execution. (WHSV – VA  7.25.08)

    Tenting for Darfur
    UU Congregation at Shelter Rock in Manhasset, Long Island, N.Y., joins 215 other participants in the United Church of Christ’s Tents of Hope project. The UU Service Committee’s Drumbeats for Darfur campaign last year joined the cause of bringing attention to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Darfur. (Newsday – Long Island NY 7.20.08)

    Congregations in the news
    New $4.4 million Green Sanctuary opens for Conejo Valley UU Fellowship in Thousand Oaks, Calif., after decades of renting worship space. Rev. Dr. Betty Stapleford is inspired by possibilities that owning a facility will offer the congregation. (Thousand Oaks Acorn – CA 7.23.08)

    In this week’s Midweek Musings, Rev. Kathy Reis calls for compassion, understanding, and respect for pregnant teenagers. She is minister of the UU Society of Rockport, Mass. (Gloucester Daily Times – MA 7. 23.08)

    The Community Church of Pepperell, Mass., is nearing completion of substantial restoration to sanctuary roof and steeple. The parish shares some history in its UU affiliation. (Nashoba Publishing – Ayer, MA 7.18.08)

    The Unitarian Church of Calgary is working on environmental issues through a Green Sanctuary project.
    (Calgary Herald – AB, Canada 7.18.08)

    Through a UUA partnering program, First Parish in Bedford, Mass., is working on three projects with a Unitarian church in Abasfalva, Romania. (Bedford Minuteman – Concord, MA 7.22.08)

    Also in the news
    Columnist mentions UUA’s General Assembly vote among the endorsements for HR 676, a bill before the U.S. Congress that would improve Medicare for all.
    (Sudbury Town Crier – MA 7.23.08)

    Murder suspect arrested, FEMA trailer on tour, and more

    Another arrest made in homicide at UU-affiliated housing
    Police have arrested the sixth suspect wanted in connection with the June slaying of Roald “Rolly” Hanson, 62, in South Seattle. Both men and another suspect lived at a group home for the mentally ill owned by a housing group affiliated with the University Unitarian Church.
    (Seattle Post Intelligencer – WA 7.16.08)

    Post-Katrina/Rita FEMA trailer on tour
    Trailer makes stop at Shelter Rock UU Congregation in Manhasset, Long Island, where it has been open to the public. A grass-roots organization touring the country uses the unhealthy emergency housing unit to raise awareness of abuse in New Orleans recovery efforts. (Newsday – Long Island, NY 7.13.08) Members of the UU Service Committee invited Derrick Evans, leader of the Gulf Coast Peoples’ Movement for Full and Fair Recovery, to visit the church on his way to Boston. (Newsday – Long Island, NY 7.10.08)

    1984 murder victim Charlie Howard remembered
    Rev. Richard Forcier, now minister of First Church, Universalist, in Barre, Vt., led this year’s annual tribute in Bangor, Me., to his former parishioner, who was targeted because he was gay.
    (WABI – Bangor, ME – 7.13.08)

    Ministers and congregations in the news
    North Parish Church of Andover, Mass., congregation hosts cultural exchange visitors from Romanian Unitarian church.
    (North Andover Citizen – MA 7.17.08)

    Burlington, Vt., UU minister accompanies students from South Asia touring local churches. Affiliate minister Rev. Roddy Cleary and Elaine Bomford explain beliefs and history to visitors interested in religious pluralism.
    (BurlingtonFreePress.com – VT 7.11.08)

    Maryland UU church’s indoor and outdoor mazes offer variety of spiritual benefits.
    (Hagerstown Morning Herald – MD 7.14.08)

    Countryside Church Unitarian Universalist is among Chicago’s socially active suburban churches.
    (Rolling Meadows Review – Chicago 7.10.08)

    Christian license plate opposed, immigrant rights, and more

    Opposition to “I Believe” South Carolina plates
    The Columbia, S.C., chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, led by UU minister Rev. Dr. Neal Jones, has joined with others from within the religious community to seek legal action against the state of South Carolina for a new license plate featuring Christian symbols and a statement of faith. Although approved for production by the state legislature earlier this year, the plaintiffs allege that the new design is a violation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
    (Utne Reader 7.8.08)

    Historic Boston UU church in vanguard of immigrant cause
    A growing number of churches nationwide support the “New Sanctuary Movement,” begun last year, which champions rights of the vulnerable immigrant population, now estimated at 12 million. However, the Arlington Street Church is among only twelve congregations in the country that have chosen to take the most active role in defending immigrants’ rights.
    (The Boston Globe – MA 7.4.08)

    Time for a Secretary of Peace?
    Karen Goyer, board of trustees president at the UU Fellowship of Salisbury, Md., posts a plea and rationale for a national Dept. of Peace. She believes such a new cabinet post would help achieve non-violent solutions to problems.
    (Delmarva Now – Salisbury, MD 7.10.08)

    Toward energy independence
    Van Jones’s 2008 Ware Lecture at UUA’s General Assembly resonates with multicultural blogger Wayne Dawkins; both spot progress in recent car, fuel trends among American consumers. (PoliticsInColor.com 7.3.08)

    Pennsylvania UUs make pilgrimage to Eastern Europe
    A group of Main Line Unitarian Church parishioners are making a pilgrimage to the rural village in Transylvania where the Unitarian faith began. The two-week visit is part of a continuing cultural exchange between the Devon, Pa., and Varfalva, Romania, churches and also part of the Main Line church’s 50th anniversary celebration. (Philadelphia Inquirer – Philadelphia 7.3.08)

    Also in the news
    A churchgoer from Cedar Lane UU of Bethesda Md. reports that their Torture is Wrong banner has been vandalized twice at night.
    (Business Gazette – Gaithersburg, MD 7.9.08 )

    Rev. Susan Suchocki Brown of First Church, UU, of Leominster, Mass., explores the active and varied nature of blessings in the context of UU beliefs. (Leominster Champion – MA 7.4.08)

    Keith Olbermann’s Unitarian roots, the gospel of Springsteen, and more

    ‘Countdown’ host’s Unitarian roots
    Keith Olbermann, the host of MSNBC’s “Countdown,” exposed his Unitarian roots during an interview with actors Jason Bateman and David Cross. At about the 4:19 mark the two actors joked that they were planning to wed at a Unitarian church in California, and Olbermann, long rumored to be a UU, replied: “Oh, good! I was raised in that faith. So there’s just a lot of political talk, there’s no actual religion involved. OK, that’s going to get me in trouble with my ancestors.” (Countdown – 6.24.08)

    The gospel of Bruce
    The Rev. Jeffrey Symynkywicz, a Bruce Sprinsteen fan and minister of the First Parish Universalist Church in Stoughton, Mass., has written a new book, The Gospel According to Bruce Springsteen. Symynkywicz says of Sprinsteen: “His music helps us to make sense of the sometimes tangled, often disparate threads of our lives.” (LA Times – 7.1.08)

    General Assembly in the news
    Local news coverage of the UUA General Assembly in Fort Lauderdale included an article about the Rev. William F. Schulz, the former president of the UUA who then served 12 years as executive director of Amnesty International USA. (Sun-Sentinel – FL 6.26.08)

    Read a profile of Schulz: “High-profile advocate for human rights” (UU World – Winter 2006)

    The Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel focused on youth antiracism workshops at the 2008 General Assembly, but mistakenly described the 3,000 GA-goers as “clergy”—including the teenagers interviewed for the piece. (Sun Sentinel – FL 6.29.08)

    The Religion News Service reported on resolutions passed by the General Assembly in support of gay marriage and immigrant rights. (Religion News: The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life – 7.1.08.)

    Wayne Dawkins wrote from Fort Lauderdale, where he was a GA delegate, on his reaction to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life’s recent study that found that Americans are more religiously tolerant than some might have us believe. (Politics In Color – Atlanta, GA 6.27.08)

    UU conference center receives sizable grant
    The Star Island conference center in New Hampshire has received a $100,000 grant from the UU Congregation at Shelter Rock in Manhasset, N.Y., to make necessary safety upgrades to its grounds and buildings that will allow it to stay open. (Boston Globe – 6.30.08)

    See also: Long Island congregation donates $100000 to Star Island (Foster’s Daily Democrat – Dover, NH 6.29.08)

    Also in the media:

    The UU Fellowship of Santa Cruz County in Aptos, Calif., is one of several UU congregations in the state that has started performing free wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples. (Register Pajaronian – Watsonville, CA 7.2.08)

    More than 25 members of the Countryside Church UU in Palatine, Ill., marched in the 39th annual Chicago Pride Parade. (Chicago Daily Herald – Chicago, IL 6.30.08)

    The UU Church on Nantucket Island, Mass., is hosting a public reading of the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights on the Fourth of July. (Nantucket Independent – MA 7.2.08)

    Thousands of people from various Christian denominations, including members of the local Unitarian community, took part in the town of Chorley’s annual walking day parade in Northern England. (Lancashire Telegraph – Blackburn, England, UK 7.1.08)

    Chris Walton contributed to this week’s blog.

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