Media roundup: Wendi Winters saved lives thanks in part to congregational training

Media roundup: Wendi Winters saved lives thanks in part to congregational training

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

Rachel Walden


In an interview after the tragic shooting at the Annapolis, Maryland, newspaper the Capital Gazette, coworkers of slain reporter and Unitarian Universalist Wendi Winters all said they felt that her actions that day had saved their lives. Moments after Jarrod Ramos entered the Gazette offices, Winters reportedly rose and charged the gunman, possibly buying time for her coworkers and enabling six of the eleven present to survive. Winters had participated in an active-shooter training at her congregation, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Annapolis, a few weeks prior. The Rev. John T. Crestwell, associate minister of the congregation, agreed that the description sounded apt, “[She] was defending her home away from home. . . . That was Wendi.” ( Capital Gazette - 7.7.18)

While still grieving the painful loss of their congregation member and sitting with the unanswerable question of why the shooting happened, the Rev. Kathleen Rolenz, Annapolis's interim senior minister, said that Winters' life would serve as an inspiration to all who knew her. “We, the members and friends of UUCA will continue to build on Wendi’s legacy of inspirational leadership, of caring for our youth and young adults, and of civic and community engagement.” ( Capital Gazette - 7.9.18)

More coverage:

“'One Of Those Rare Individuals': Annapolis Church Remembers Capital Gazette Shooting Victim” ( WBUR - 6.29.18)

“Annapolis shooting: Capital Gazette journalist killed once resided in Montclair” ( - 6.29.18)

“Mashpee Woman Remembers Friend Who Died In Annapolis Shooting” ( Falmouth Enterprise - 7.7.18)

A look at the lives of individuals living in sanctuary at UU congregations

Vicky Chavez, a Honduras-born mother of two, has been living inside First Unitarian Church in Salt Lake City, Utah, for the past six months. She fled to the United States to escape violence and death threats against her from her then-boyfriend in Honduras. Although her most recent appeal for asylum was denied, she is committed to trying again: “Experiencing domestic violence is not easy, but we have to continue fighting.” ( Salt Lake Tribune - 7.10.18)

For the past eight months, Sandra Lopez and her daughter have been living in sanctuary at Two Rivers UU Church in Carbondale, Colorado. Originally from Mexico, Lopez understands that it could be years before she is able to leave the congregation’s parsonage. The congregation also knew that when they agreed to offer her sanctuary. The congregation’s minister, the Rev. Shawna Foster, questioned the purpose of an immigration system that leaves children parentless: “If Sandra is deported, that's three children without a mom. . . . Is that what the laws are for?" ( NPR - 7.7.18)

Sujitno Sajuti, an immigrant from Indonesia who came to the United States originally on a Fulbright Scholarship has been fighting to stay in the country for years. For the past eight months, he has continued his fight while living in sanctuary at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Meriden, Connecticut. The community recently came together for a potluck fundraiser to support Sajuti’s legal fight to stay in the country and to help the community get to know the longtime resident. ( NECN - 7.12.18)

Irida Kakhtiranova, a 36-year-old wife and mother of three, is an immigrant from Russia and has lived in the United States for more than ten years. While she fights her deportation, and with the help of local church and community members, Kakhtiranova has begun a small business making pierogies in the kitchen of the Unitarian Society of Northampton and Florence, Mass., and selling them at $10 a dozen. She says the activity helps her manage the stress of staying indoors all the time and has helped her gain some of her confidence back. ( WBUR - 7.9.18)

Related coverage:

“New Preschool Takes Over Vacated Spot In Church After Immigration Policy Fallout” ( CBS Denver - 7.2.18)

General Assembly vote makes news

At General Assembly in Kansas City, Missouri, last month, Unitarian Universalists voted to adopt an Action of Immediate Witness that calls for the abolition of the federal government’s department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The vote came at a time of intense outcry against the Trump administration’s practice of taking children from their parents when they sought asylum in the United States. Carey McDonald, executive vice president of the Unitarian Universalist Association, affirmed the reason for the vote: “One of our principles is the inherent worth and dignity of each person. Our immigration system denies the dignity of people in the system.” ( Religion News Service - 6.27.18)

More coverage:

“Unitarian Universalists call for an end to ICE” ( Wichita Eagle - 6.26.18)