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Unitarian Universalists in the media

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

Author explores Founding Fathers’ faith, and more

Minister’s new book explores Founding Fathers’ spirituality
The Rev. Gary Kowalski, senior minister of the First UU Society in Burlington, Vt., has written a new book, Revolutionary Spirits: The Enlightened Faith of America’s Founding Fathers, which looks at the spirituality of America’s early politicians and argues that they were neither evangelicals nor secularists. (USA Today – 2.12.08)

Kowalski spoke about the spiritual lives of the Founding Fathers in a President’s Day interview with Steve Zind on Vermont Public Radio. (VPR – 2.18.08)

The book was reviewed at Blog Critics magazine on January 24. (Blog Critics – 1.24.08)

Also in the media:

Newly ordained minister and fifth-generation African American UU the Rev. Lauren Smith talks briefly about her religious heritage. (The Boston – Bay State Banner – Boston, MA 2.14.08)

Philip F. Gura, author of the new book American Transcendentalism, talks about the history of Transcendentalism and its Unitarian roots. (News & Observer – Raleigh, NC 2.15.08)

The co-ministers of the First Unitarian Church of Rochester, NY., show their support for marriage equality by refusing to sign marriage licenses until same-sex couples can wed. (13WHAM-TV – Rochester, NY 2.14.08)

A growing number of liberal churches are teaching sex ed classes to their youth, including the popular Our Whole Lives (OWL) sexuality education curriculum developed by the UUA and the United Church of Christ. (AZ Central.com – AZ 2.20.08)

A father and son prepare to make their second trip to Louisiana with a group from the First Unitarian Church in Worcester, Mass., to help with post-Katrina rebuilding efforts. (Wicked Local Lancaster – Clinton, MA 2.13.08)

Unitarian Universalism and the First UU Congregation of Terre Haute, Ind., get a brief mention at the end of this article on students exploring Buddhism. (Indiana Statesman – IN 2.18.08)

Pete Seeger’s group sings, Mary Oliver’s record-breaking show, and more

Group sings help people connect
The New York Times looks at the phenomenon of group sings, in which people gather together to sing familiar songs, Beacon Press author and poet Mary Oliver became the fastest ticket sellout in the 20-year history of Seattle Arts & Lectures and prompted a ticket frenzy on Craigslist.org. (Seattle PI – WA 2.4.08)

Also in the media:
The First Church in Jamaica Plain, Unitarian Universalist, celebrates 25 years of service by their minister the Rev. Terry Burke. (Jamaica Plain Gazette – Jamaica Plain, MA 2.7.08)

Representatives from the Independent Christian Church, Universalist in Gloucester, Mass., and the First Parish Church Congregational in Manchester, N.H., are quoted in a story about a Gloucester synagogue that was destroyed in a fire. (Boston Globe – 2.10.08)

An article in the Daily Northwestern focuses on the inclusivity and political activism of the Unitarian Church of Evanston, Ill. (Daily Northwestern – Evanston, IL 2.12.08)

Patti Anne Logan, a board member at the All Souls UU Community in Lacey, Wash., writes about the universal desire for freedom. (The Olympian – Olympia, WA 2.9.08)

The Rev. Johanna Nichols, minister of the Champlain Valley UU Society in Middlebury, Vt., gave testimony in support of same-sex marriage to the Vermont Commission on Family Recognition and Protection. (Rutland Herald – Rutland, VT 2.13.08)

First Unitarian Church in Hobart, Ind., joins groups around the world in celebrating Darwin Day. (Munster Times – Munster, IN 2.8.08)

The Independent profiles Jaki Jackson, a member of the UU Congregation of the South Fork who just wrote and illustrated a children’s book, Groundhog Day: A Mid-Winter Tale. (Hamptons Independent – East Hampton, NY 2.13.08)

The Olympia UU Congregation in Washington is collecting used movies and other donations for a sale to support Out of the Woods, an emergency shelter for homeless families. (The Olympian – Olympia, WA 2.12.08)

The First Parish Congregational Church in Yarmouth, Maine, is working to raise $1.6 million to renovate and expand its historic 1860s church. (MaineToday.com – Portland, ME 2.8.08)

Groundhog Day, the Founding Fathers, Stephen Colbert, and more

Roots and inspiration on Groundhog Day
Holly Ulbrich, author of The Fellowship Movement, writes about the origin of Groundhog Day and about the lesson of transformation that can be found in the 1993 Bill Murray film Groundhog Day. (Anderson Independent Mail – Anderson, SC 2.1.08)

The Covenant of UU Pagans in Frederick, Md., celebrated the earth-centered roots of Groundhog Day. (Frederick News Post – Frederick, MD 2.3.08)

Forrest Church discusses new book
The Rev. Forrest Church, minister of public theology at Manhattan’s All Souls Unitarian Church, discusses his new book, So Help Me God: The Founding Fathers and the First Great Battle Over Church and State. (The Santa Barbara Independent – Santa Barbara, CA 2.5.08)

See also: America’s founding faiths (UU World – Winter 2007)

Defining ‘Unitarian’
Wikiality.com, a Wikipedia spoof written and moderated by fans of the popular Comedy Central show The Colbert Report hosted by Stephen Colbert, presents a tongue-in-cheek definition of Unitarianism from the “ultra conservative” point of view.

Also in the media:

Holston Valley UU Church in Gray, Tenn., prepares to celebrate Evolution Day. (Johnson City Press – TN 2.2.08)

The UU Congregation of Montclair, N.J., celebrated Evolution Weekend early. (Montclair Times – Montclair, NJ 2.6.07)

A high school publication profiles the UU Church of Palo Alto, Calif. (Paly Voice – Palo Alto, CA 12.19.07)

The Rev. Charles J. Stephens, minister of the UU Church at Washington Crossing in Titusville, N.J., explores the idea that what touches one affects us all. (phillyBurbs.com – Philadelphia, PA 2.1.08)

Lisa Fritsche, director of religious education at the UU Church of Columbia, Mo., qualified to appear on the TV quiz show Jeopardy! (Columbia Daily Tribune – Columbia, MO 1.31.08)

See also: Final Jeopardy! signals end for local contestant (Columbia Daily Tribune – Columbia, MO 2.4.08)

A UU minister, an Islamic scholar, and a Baptist professor of the New Testament debate the essence of Jesus. (Columbia Daily Tribune – Columbia, MO 2.3.08)

The UU Church of Annapolis, Md., will host its seventh annual Wintertime Red Cross Blood Drive. (WBAL – Baltimore, MD 2.5.08)

Religious communities focus on environmental issues. (The Southern – Carbondale, IL 2.1.08)

A stone commemorating the burning of two English heretics has been returned to the Unitarian church where it was created. (Halifax Evening Courier – UK 2.7.08)

Churches get involved with the community, and more

An editorial in The Olympian applauds the success of Camp Quixote, a tent camp for the homeless that has found a home at various locations, including the local UU church: “A great deal of credit for the ensuing success of Camp Quixote goes to the members of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation. As officers were preparing to move in to break up the camp and make arrests if necessary, the folks at the west side church volunteered to host the tent city.” (The Olympian – Olympia, WA 12.28.07)

See also: Washington church hosts tent city (uuworld.org – 2.23.07)

The UU Church of Davis, Calif., a certified green sanctuary, will host a film festival of movies about environmental issues. (The California Aggie Online – Davis, CA 1.25.08)

The Rev. Kathleen Hepler, soon to be installed as the pastor of First Parish UU in Framingham, Mass., hopes to help the town focus on immigration issues. (MetroWest Daily News – Framingham, MA 1.26.08)

Children at the First Unitarian Church in Toledo, Ohio, help the hungry. (Toledo Blade – Toledo, OH 1.26.08)

UUs join the hundreds of people at a rally in support of Oregon’s domestic partnership law. (PSU Daily Vanguard – Portland, OR 1.31.08)

The Rev. Kate Walker, minister of the UU Church in Meadville, writes about why people do—or don’t—go to church. (GoErie.com – Erie, PA 1.26.08)

The Sierra Foothills UU Church in Auburn, Calif., honored the memory of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson and Peewee Reese at a community event. (Auburn Journal – Auburn, CA 1.26.08)

Big changes are ahead for the UU Church of Eugene, Ore., as it approaches its centennial. (The Register-Guard – Eugene, OR 1.27.08)

Rochester, N.Y., locals talk about their religions. (Rochester Democrat and Chronicle – Rochester, NY 1.29.08)

A North Carolina interfaith group focuses on peace and justice. (Greenville Daily Reflector – Greenville, NC 1.29.08)

UUs remember the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and more

UUs pay tribute to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
A concert at the Sierra Foothills UU Church in Aurburn, Calif., celebrates the life of Martin Luther King Jr.—and the special relationship between two churches. (Auburn Journal – Auburn, CA 1.25.08)

The Rev. Carolyn Brown, interim minister at the UU Church of Evansville, Ky., is interviewed in an article about how Martin Luther King Jr. inspired religious leaders of different faiths. (Henderson Gleaner – Henderson, KY 1.19.08)

The Martin Luther King Jr. Coalition, a group started nine years ago by the First Church UU of Leominster, Mass., in partnership with local public schools, presented the 9th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration. (Leominster Champion – MA 1.25.08)

A group in Bellville, Ohio, chose to focus on Martin Luther King Jr.’s antiwar stance this MLK Day, gathering for a candlelight vigil followed by a program on King’s philosophy at All Souls UU Church. (Mansfield News Journal – Mansfield, OH 1.22.08)

Also in the media:

A Winter 2007 UU World essay excerpted from the Rev. Kate Braestrup’s bestselling memoir Here If You Need Me gets noticed in Utne Reader‘s “Spirituality” blog. (Utne.com – 1.22.08)

Read the essay: One thing I’m sure of (UU World – Winter 2007)

Read more about Braestrup: Chaplain in the wilderness (UU World – May/June 2005)

The UU Fellowship of Stanislaus County, Calif., hosted an annual Mardi Gras celebration to benefit their building fund. (Modesto Bee – Modesto, CA 1.23.08)

The Auburn, Ala., UU Fellowship hosted a hunger banquet to demonstrate the difference in world poverty levels. (WTVM – Columbus, GA 1.23.08)

The First Unitarian Church of Victoria, B.C., awarded its Unsung Heroes Award, which was created to honor people who exhibit equity and compassion in dealing with others. (Times Colonist – Victoria, British Columbia, Canada 1.21.08)

Minister profiles, the gospel of evolution, and more

The lives of ministers
Several stories in the media this week looked at the lives of UU ministers beyond the church setting.

The Martha’s Vineyard Gazette profiles the Rev. Judith Campbell who recently retired from her position as minister of the UU Society of Martha’s Vineyard to pursue writing and other interests. (Martha’s Vineyard Gazette – Edgartown, MA 1.11.08)

The Austin-American Statesmen explores how the Rev. Eliza Galaher, minister of the Wildflower Church in South Austin, Texas, finds inspiration in her many tattoos. (Austin American-Statesman – Austin, TX 1.15.08)

The Indianapolis Star looks to UU minister the Rev. Jim Shumacker, now a career coach, for five tips about career change. (Indianapolis Star – 1.16.08)

Spreading the gospel of evolution
For more than five years now, husband and wife team the Rev. Michael Dowd and Connie Barlow have traveled across America to share the gospel of evolution, which sees evolutionary science and God as compatible ideas.(Austin American-Statesman – Austin, TX 1.12.08)

See also:
Ex-pastor driven to tout evolution (Dallas Morning News – Dallas, TX 1.17.08)

Welcome to the Ecozoic Era (UU World – Spring 2006)

Also in the media:

The Rev. Fred Rabidoux joined fellow animal rights activists for a vigil at the San Francisco Zoo urging zoos not to keep large animals. (Fog City Journal – San Francisco, CA 1.4.08)

Hurt feelings prompted harsh words after three Christian churches snubbed a Women’s World Day of Prayer event being hosted at the Padiham Nazareth Unitarian Chapel in England. (Burnley Citizen – UK 1.16.08)

Dangerously old sanctuary windows at the historic UU Society of Rockport, Mass., will be replaced thanks to the town’s Community Preservation Fund. (Gloucester Daily Times – MA 1.14.08)

More than 100 people gathered to celebrate Twelfth Night at the First UU Society of Marietta, Ohio. (Marietta Times – Marietta, OH 1.12.08)

Wayne F. Smith, human rights advocate and civil liberties program manager for the UU Service Committee, will speak at the annual Martin Luther King Day Breakfast at Kennebunk, Maine’s First Parish UU Church. (Portsmouth Herald News – Portsmouth, NH 1.10.07)

The First Unitarian Church of New Bedford, Mass., prepares to celebrate its 300th anniversary. (SouthCoastToday.com – New Bedford, MA 1.12.08)

Politics and religion, an award-winning minister, and more

Faith and politics
The Rev. Forrest Church, a minister at All Souls Unitarian Church in New York City and author of So Help Me God: The Founding Fathers and the First Great Battle over Church and State, asks: “Is it appropriate to elect a minister of the gospel as president of the United States?” (beliefnet.com)

Citing the Rev. Forrest Church’s book, So Help Me God, Albert Southwick argues that contrary to modern religious rhetoric, the Founding Fathers were not Bible thumpers.(Worcester Telegram – Worcester, MA 1.6.08)

The Rev. Mark Worth of the UU Church of Castine, Maine, spoke to his congregation about the issue of religion and the presidential elections, focusing on the religious beliefs of candidates. (WCSH-TV – Portland, ME 1.6.08)

UU minister wins PETA award
The Rev. Susan Manker-Seale of the UU Congregation of Northwest Tucson, Az., was recently named the “most progressive religious leader” in PETA’s fifth annual Proggy Awards for her work “encouraging sustainable living by promoting carpooling, using solar energy, recycling, water conservation, and organic and vegan cooking classes.” (Arizona Daily Star – Tucson, AZ 1.5.08)

See also: PETA’s 5th Annual Proggy Awards (PETA.org)

Survivor contestant helps fund church
Seven years after she failed to win on the reality TV show Survivor, Sonja Christopher’s $2,500 consolation winnings are helping to build the Mt. Diablo, Calif., UU Church’s new Fellowship Hall. (San Jose Mercury News – CA 1.9.08 registration required)

Civil unions, football promotions, seasonal observations, and more

New Year brings legal civil unions to New Hampshire
As the clock struck midnight and 2007 rolled over into 2008, about 40 same-sex couples gathered outside of the New Hampshire State House to be married in the state’s first legal civil unions. More couples planned to have their civil union ceremonies at a New Year’s Day celebration at the South Church UU Congregation in Portsmouth. (Boston Globe – 12.31.07)

See also:
Gay NH couples celebrate, gain status in civil unions (Boston Globe – 1.2.07)

Presiding over history (Concord Monitor – Concord, NH 12.31.07)

Couples are ready: Civil-union countdown is on (Portsmouth Herald News – Portsmouth, NH 12.28.07)

NH leads in adding same-sex couples (Foster’s Daily Democrat – Dover, NH 12.30.07)

UUA advertising to include football programs
The Chicago Tribune reports on the UUA’s recent advertising and outreach efforts, including an ad scheduled to appear in programs at 13 college football bowl games. (Chicago Tribune – 12.28.07)

See also: Unitarians tackle bowl games (Fort Worth Star Telegram – Fort Worth, TX 12.29.07)

UU seasonal observations
Members of the UU Fellowship of Waynesboro, Va., celebrated Christmas with a participatory service of shared song, stories, and reflections on the meaning of the season. (Staunton News Leader – Staunton, VA 12.24.07)

The Portsmouth Herald News examines the history of Christmas in Maine, the people’s early reluctance to celebrate the holiday, and the local Unitarian church’s part in making it a common practice. (Portsmouth Herald News – Portsmouth, NH 12.27.07)

Iowa religious leaders, including the Rev. Eva Cameron of the UU Society of Black Hawk County in Cedar Falls, answer the question: What would Jesus want for his birthday this year? (Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier – Waterloo, IA 12.25.07)

As part of its ongoing work to promote environmentally friendly practices, the First Unitarian Church of St. Louis chose to light its Christmas tree this year with energy-efficient LED Christmas lights. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch – MO 12.20.07)

Three sisters at the UU Congregation of Green Valley, Az., bring some Christmas cheer to local senior citizens and form the basis of a new children’s choir. (Green Valley News – Green Valley, AZ 12.23.07)

The UU Fellowship of Fredericksburg, Va., lit up the darkness with a winter solstice celebration featuring lots of candles. (The Free Lance-Star – Fredericksburg, VA 12.22.07)

The solstice service at the UU Congregation of the Shoals in Florence, Ala., focused on the winter season rather than the holiday’s pagan roots. (Times Daily – Florence, AL 12.20.07)

Also in the media:

Actress Katherine Heigl was married in what media outlets are calling a “Unitarian Christian” ceremony officiated by UU minister the Rev. Tom Goldsmith. (San Francisco Chronicle – 12.27.07)

See also: Katherine Heigl Commits to ‘Crapshoot’ (eFluxMedia – 12.24.07)

More than a year after the UU church in Rock Tavern, N.Y., was destroyed in a fire, the congregation is still working toward rebuilding. (Times Herald-Record – Middletown, NY 12.28.07)

See also: Fire destroys Rock Tavern UU church (uuworld.org – 9.15.06)

Camp Quixote, a homeless tent city that at one point made its home at the Olympia, Wash., UU Congregation, is moving again. (The Olympian – Olympia, WA 12.30.07)

See also: Washington church hosts tent city (uuworld.org – 2.23.07)

The Rev. Nan White led members of the UU Fellowship of Beaufort, S.C., in an annual service to remember South Carolinians who died in Iraq during the year. (Beaufort Gazette – Beaufort, SC 1.2.08)

The Rev. Naomi King, minister of the River of Grass UU Congregation in Plantation, Fla., is overseeing a series of sermons and free activities focused on the idea of creating peace at home and worldwide. (MiamiHerald.com – Miami, FL 12.30.07)

The Rev. Gary Kowalski of the First UU Society in Burlington, Vt., is interviewed in this story about people who believe in angels. (BurlingtonFreePress.com – Burlington,VT 12.25.07)

The UU Society of Fairhaven, Mass., has formed the Green Sanctuary Vision Committee to oversee environmental changes at the church. (SouthCoastToday.com – New Bedford, MA 12.22.07)

A new window at the UU Church of Savannah, Ga., tells the story of a church and a religion. (Savannah Morning News – Savannah, GA 12.23.07)

UUs come up a couple of times in this article about how Democratic candidates are
talking about religion more
. (Concord Monitor – Concord, NH 12.31.07)

Happy New Year!

Church tragedies, banned Christmas trees, and more

Church mourns members killed in murder/suicide
Members of the UUs of Clearwater, Fla., mourned the loss of five of their own, the victims of a murder/suicide. On December 14, member Oliver Bernsdorff apparently killed his ex-wife, Jennifer Davis, her partner, Andrea Pisanello, and his two children, Olivia and Magnus. He later shot himself. (Tampa Tribune – Tampa, FL 12.16.07)

See also: Shooter warned people he would kill his family (Tampa Bay’s 10 – St. Petersburg, FL 12.14.07)

Members of burned temple find refuge at UU church
Members of the Temple Ahavat Achim, whose building burned down last weekend, have found a temporary home at the Independent Christian Church, UU in Gloucester, Mass. The fire started in an adjacent apartment building, which was also destroyed, killing one resident. (Boston Globe – 12.16.07)

See also:
Temple finds temporary home in historic church (Gloucester Daily Times – MA 12.15.07)

Lost temple remembered (Boston Herald – 12.16.07)

Temple destroyed but congregation’s ‘heart is untouched’ (Gloucester Daily Times – MA 12.17.07)

Members of burned temple put community first (Boston Globe – 12.20.07)

Fire department says church’s live Christmas trees must go
Members of South Church UU in Portsmouth, N.H., were dismayed when the local fire department told them two Christmas trees in their sanctuary violated fire codes and needed to be removed. The article includes a new hymn to the tune of Comfort and Joy (in the sidebar) by the Rev. Roberta Finkelstein and “her elves” with lyrics such as: “We’ve had two trees since who knows when / And no one’s raised a brow. / What’s caused our friends the fire men / To up and have a cow?” (Portsmouth Herald News – Portsmouth, NH 12.18.07)

Also in the media:

The Rev. Hank Peirce, minister of the UU Church of Medford, Mass., has challenged his congregants to cut their holiday gift budget in half from last year’s and give the difference to charity. (Wickedlocal.com – Medford, MA 12.18.07)

The South Valley Unitarian church is hosting a homeless family as part of Salt Lake City’s Family Promise church shelter program. (Deseret News – Salt Lake City, UT 12.20.07)

An article about innovative faith-based sex-ed programs compares the Our Whole Lives (OWL) comprehensive sexuality education program, produced by the UUA and the United Church of Christ, with the Catholic-based abstinence curriculum A Promise to Keep. (Indianapolis Star – 12.16.07)

The UUA will be closed next week, but the UUs in the Media blog will return Thursday, January 3. Happy holidays!

90-pound football stars, climate-change churches, and more

Peewee football champs have UU connection
A children’s football team sponsored by the Beacon House neighborhood organization in Washington, D.C., won the national championship in the 90-pound Peewee Division in the Pop Warner Super Bowl in Orlando December 8. Beacon House was founded in 1991 by a Unitarian Universalist minister to support at-risk youth and families of the Edgewood Terrace community in Washington. (Washington Post, 12/9/07)

Oregon churches’ changing relationship with the earth
Oregonians of all faiths, including Unitarian Universalism, are joining the fight against global warming and changing the way they think about the planet. (The Oregonian – OregonLive.com – Portland, OR 12.9.07)

Christian-based churches are responding to climate change by getting involved in environmentalism. (Clackamas Review – Portland, OR 12.11.07)

Also in the media:
The UU Fellowship of the Peninsula in Newport News, Va., has formed the Peninsula Peace Project to promote peacemaking. (Daily Press – Newport News, VA 12.10.07)

The Rev. Alan C. Taylor, minister of Unity Temple UU Congregation in Oak Park, Ill., writes about the importance of religious freedom. (Wednesday Journal – Oak Park, IL 12.11.07)

The Parish House of the First Unitarian Church in Providence, R.I., hosted the 20th annual Write-a-thon of Amnesty International, which helps call attention to the repression of the Burmese people. (Providence Journal – Providence, RI 12.10.07)

The Rev. Forrest Church, minister of All Souls Church in Manhattan and author of So Help Me God is quoted in a story about Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s faith. (Deseret News – Salt Lake City, UT 12.8.07)

The Rev. Arthur Vaeni, minister of the Olympia, Wash., UU Congregation writes about the importance of health care for all. (The Olympian – Olympia, WA 12.8.07)

Voters concerned about electronic balloting gathered at the UU Fellowship of Clarksville, Tenn., for a screening of the film UnCounted and talk lead by the film’s producer. (Clarksville Online – Clarksville, TN 12.8.07)

The UU Church of Savannah, Ga., hosted a celebration of December music from the traditions of Winter Solstice, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and the Bahá’í Faith. (Savannah Morning News – Savannah, GA 12.6.07)

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