Media roundup: Forgiveness and compassion after vandalism

Media roundup: Forgiveness and compassion after vandalism

A weekly guide to stories about Unitarian Universalists from other media sources.

Rachel Walden


When someone threw a rock through a window of a building at Foothills Unitarian Church in Fort Collins, Colorado, church leaders thought it might have been meant as a political message. But when the man who threw the rock came back on Sunday asking to speak to the minister, they learned that the act was in fact part of a relapse by an alcoholic struggling with his addiction. As part of his effort to make amends, he wrote a letter to the congregation offering to do whatever it took to make things right. The congregation will not be pressing charges: “We believe in ultimate goodness and inclusion for everyone, so just our core values . . . would lean us toward forgiveness and compassion,” said the congregation’s minister, the Rev. Gretchen Haley. “It mattered a lot that he took responsibility and wanted to be accountable for the harm that was done and for the cost.” ( Coloradoan – 12.19.17)

More coverage:

“Colorado church forgives man who vandalized building” (  – 12.20.17)

“Fort Collins church forgives man who vandalized building” (  – 12.20.17)

Creating sanctuary in church and beyond

Ingrid Encalada Latorre, from Peru, has been able to remain with her family in the United States since last year by living in churches in Denver and Fort Collins, Colorado. She has now moved with her two children to the Unitarian Universalist Church of Boulder to be closer to family and friends. This is the first time the Boulder congregation has taken in someone seeking sanctuary after voting to offer sanctuary in October. ( Denver Post – 12.19.17)

Faith leaders, legal experts, and volunteers in California gathered last Tuesday to launch the San Diego Rapid Response Network, an effort to monitor Immigration and Customs Enforcement locally and offer legal and social services to immigrants in San Diego County. The Rev. Tania Marquez of First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Diego told volunteers at the event, “The existence of this network sends a strong message of compassion to the world—and when we join forces, when we come together, we can do more.” ( Times of San Diego – 12.19.17)

A Cambodian refugee living in the United States since he was 2 years old, Rottnak Kong received some good news on his pending deportation proceedings this week. Thanks in part to the efforts of the Unitarian Universalist Church in Davis, California, and others to bring attention to Kong’s plight, a felony charge against him was reclassified as a misdemeanor. Unitarian Universalists and others were on hand for the announcement and celebrated this hopeful change, making Kong no longer at risk of deportation. ( Yolo County News – 12.20.17)

Debunking comparisons to P.T. Barnum

In an Op-Ed, Stephen Mihm, professor of history and editor of an autobiography of P.T. Barnum, seeks to put an end to the public’s embrace of the idea that Donald Trump is the second coming of P.T. Barnum. Among other significant differences that he notes between the two men, Mihm writes that although Barnum was far from a saint, “[He] was a devoted husband to his wife, Charity. He was a dedicated [Universalist], and a progressive one at that: He welcomed Olympia Brown, the first woman ever ordained within the denomination, as a minister to his congregation in Bridgeport, Conn.” ( New York Times – 12.19.17)

Read more about P.T. Barnum from the UU World archives.

This will be the last Media Roundup post for 2017. We’ll break for the holidays and be back in the new year with more stories of Unitarian Universalists picked up by external news outlets. Wishing everyone as much peace and happiness as possible during this hectic holiday time. Take care!