A weekly guide to stories about Unitarian Universalists from other media sources.
When congregation members arrived for worship last Sunday at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, they encountered racist vandalism at the entrance to their sanctuary. Their Black Lives Matter banner had been ripped down and “WHITE” was spray-painted across the doors. This is not the first time the congregation has had its banner vandalized; they keep two additional banners in storage for occasions like this. Members expressed frustration at the vandalism: "I wouldn’t say I was frightened, but I was frustrated that instead of the opportunity to be in conversation with someone who feels differently than what this congregation feels toward that movement, that we don’t have the opportunity for that conversation,” said Caron Armstrong. (Winston-Salem Journal - 4.22.18)
Three days after having its building vandalized, the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Winston-Salem held a gathering with local faith leaders and community members to renounce racism. Security camera footage of the vandalism shows three white teens pulling down the banner in the early hours on Sunday morning. Mariela Perez-Simons, ministerial intern at the congregation said, “This was a violation to our right to do sacred activism, the right to do what we think is right. But as a person of color, seeing that word ‘white’ spray painted on our doors, I felt that in my gut. I felt sick to my stomach.” (Winston-Salem Journal - 4.26.18)
“Vandal spray paints ‘White’ on Winston-Salem church doors, tears down ‘Black Lives Matter’ banner” (Fox 8 - 4.22.18)
“Vandals Strike Winston-Salem Church For a Third Time” (WFMY2 - 4.23.18)
Zoe Brookshire-Risely, a high school senior and a member of the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church when they experienced a mass shooting in 2008, led a student walk out at her school as part of a national protest on the nineteenth anniversary of the Columbine massacre. She said the event had two goals: to send a message to politicians demanding changes to gun laws and to encourage students to become politically active. (KnoxNews.com - 4.20.18)
Jo and John Shaffer, former residents of Colorado who were nearby when the Columbine shooting occurred 19 years ago, joined a gathering in Panama City to honor victims of the tragedy. “Let me tell you—if gun violence has not directly touched you, it will,” Jo said. “If you let this go, this is what we are going to have happen over and over again." (Panama City News Herald - 4.20.18)
“Falls students step out in support of gun control” (Niagara-Gazette - 4.20.18)
“Rally calls for action on gun violence after shootings” (Watertown Daily Times - 4.23.18)
Unitarian Universalist Association President Susan Frederick-Gray was interviewed about the importance of practicing a faithful commitment to others during these difficult times in the United States. “We in the UUA are clear about our core commitment to the dignity of all people—that’s our touchstone," said Frederick-Gray. "But the challenge for us, as for all people of faith, is putting that commitment into everyday practice. And here I don’t just mean activism and advocacy but also the indispensable practice of showing loving kindness and generosity toward one another as we struggle together toward a different kind of society." (Religion Dispatches - 4.24.18)
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Rachel Walden is the communications specialist in the UUA Office of Information and Public Witness.
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