News brief: Former UUA Moderator Jim Key has died

News brief: Former UUA Moderator Jim Key has died

Key, elected as moderator and chief governance officer in 2013, resigned May 13 when cancer returned.

Jim Key

Jim Key, who served as moderator of the Unitarian Universalist Association from 2013 until May 2017, has died. (© Nancy Pierce)

© Nancy Pierce


Former UUA Moderator Jim Key died this morning while in treatment for cancer. He was 77.

Elected by the General Assembly in 2013 as the Unitarian Universalist Association’s moderator and chief governance officer, Key presided over the Board of Trustees during the tumultuous controversy over UUA hiring practices this spring that led to the resignations of UUA President Peter Morales and two other top leaders and to the appointment of a three-person interim co-presidency. Key resigned May 13 due to “significant health concerns.”

The UUA’s interim co-presidents, the Rev. Sofía Betancourt, the Rev. William G. Sinkford, and Leon Spencer, released a statement mourning Key this morning:

Jim Key, who served as Moderator of the UUA from 2013 until he recently was forced to step down for health reasons, died this morning. Jim was many things to us: an inspired and collaborative leader, a warm and humble colleague, an advocate for justice with respect and love for people deep in his DNA, and an evangelist for our faith.

He offered warm friendship, hope and confidence through complex and challenging times. We will miss him deeply. We hold Jim and his family in our hearts and prayers. We hold the larger circle who knew and loved Jim. And we hold our entire community as we grieve his passing and remember the gift of his presence among us.

Vice Moderator Denise Rimes is leading the Board of Trustees for now. The next election of a moderator to a six-year term is scheduled for the 2019 General Assembly. Until then, the board will appoint a moderator to serve until the 2018 General Assembly, when delegates will have the opportunity to elect a moderator to complete the final year of Key’s term.