in the congregations

 Contents: UU World Back Issue


South Carolina kids honor MLK

Nancy Fitzer and Heather Magruder, members of the Greenville, South Carolina, UU Fellowship, created the change they wanted to see.

It all started, said Fitzer, just prior to Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2004. "Heather and I were discussing the fact that the kids would be out of school for Dr. King's birthday, but no events were planned for them. We looked at each other and we knew we had to do something." The result was an annual January MLK Day event for children in Greenville.

In cooperation with a local Presbyterian church, Magruder and Fitzer organized an event last year and another one this year. About 70 children and 30 adults attended this year's event, held in a local library. "We had music, cooperative games, crafts, and a presentation about Dr. King," said Fitzer. "Many people told us how grateful they were that we'd arranged this."

A social justice activities fund, left to the fellowship by recently deceased members John and Peg McFerrin, paid for this year's event.

As part of the day's activities, children made colored construction-paper portraits of themselves at the You Are Special and One of a Kind booth. Others made friendship bracelets or bookmarks. Kids also had the opportunity to sign brief statements like "will not fight with my brothers and sisters" and "will make a new friend" at the Make a Pledge to Work for Peace booth.

Plans are under way for a third MLK event next year.

Fellowship named for Goodloe

The Bowie Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Bowie, Maryland, has changed its name to Goodloe Memorial Unitarian Universalist Congregation in honor of the Rev. Don Speed Smith Goodloe, an educator and the first African Amer ican to graduate from Meadville Theological School, a Unitarian seminary.

The name change was prompted by the fact that the congregation draws members from an area larger than Bowie and wanted to honor someone with local Unitarian connections. The name change also better reflects the diversity in the Bowie area.

Goodloe, born in 1878, was a teacher and an African Methodist Episcopal minister before attending Meadville. He was the first principal of Maryland’s first black normal school for training teachers, now Bowie State University.

Like other African Americans of the time, he was discouraged from becoming a Unitarian minister after graduating because of the difficulty of finding a placement for ministers of color.

Goodloe died in 1959. His house is a national historic site in Bowie.

Reston banners destroyed twice

Twice in the last three months vandals have destroyed “Civil Marriage is a Civil Right" banners at the UU Church in Reston, Virginia. The first banner, erected last October in front of the church, was slashed in February. When a bigger sign was put up it was burned in early March and the fire department was called to put out the resulting small brush fire. The church building was undamaged.

The Rev. Sydney Wilde, cominister at Reston, said that police were notified both times and that there were newspaper articles about the vandalism and an editorial in support of free speech."ome of our people are pretty scared though, especially because of the fire, but to us this sign is a religious statement."

Wilde said the Northern Virginia Ethical Society paid for the second sign. A third sign went up in March and was to stay up until Easter.

Large churches meet in Boston

Thirty of the largest UU congregations were represented at the UUA's sixth triennial Conference for Large Congregations, as were 13 growing congregations that are approaching the 550-member threshold that defines "large"; for UU congregations. Attendance at the conference, held in Boston in February, exceeded 300 people.

Activities included worship led by the Rev. Stefan Jonasson, the UUA's coordinator of services for large congregations, workshops, and a keynote presentation on building social capital by author Don Cohen. Perhaps most important, Jonasson said, the conference gave large congregation leaders a chance to learn from each other and develop interchurch relationships.

Jonasson said that out of the 1,039 UU congregations, the 40 large congregations account for almost 20 percent of our total church membership. The number of large churches in the UUA has hovered between 37 and 43 for two decades, Jonasson said, but the national trend is toward larger churches and he expects that number to exceed 50 by the end of the decade.

While the number of small churches continues to decline each year in most religious denominations, Jonasson said, midsize churches, which many experts believe will dramatically decline in number during the coming generation, feel the greatest strain. "American culture seems to favor both large institutions (which offer quality, relevance, and choices) and smaller ones (which offer intimacy and familiarity),"; he said. "It is midsize institutions that have a harder time defining their place."

 Contents: UU World Back Issue
UU World : Page 46-47

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