From hosting vigils mourning the tragic effects of gun violence to a UU congregation forgiving a man who threw a rock at their building, Unitarian Universalists were in local and national media outlets frequently over the last few months.
UUA President Susan Frederick-Gray reflected in the Washington Post about increased church attendance since Donald Trump’s election as president: “When people are afraid, when they’re facing trauma, when they’re in the midst of tremendous challenge and difficulty, they seek out communities that will support them,” she said. “They seek out religious community. And I believe people are experiencing trauma in this political environment.” (Washington Post, 11/21/17)
In an op-ed, Stephen Mihm, a professor of history and editor of the autobiography The Life 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 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, Connecticut.” (New York Times, 12/19/17)
Leaving ISIS behind
Tania Georgelas, a woman who was once married to a high-ranking member of the Islamic State, the notorious terrorist group, was recently profiled in The Atlantic as a follow-up to reporter Graeme Wood’s reporting on her former husband. Now divorced, Georgelas has left the radical Islamic sect behind and attends a Dallas-area Unitarian church. (The Atlantic, 11/3/17)
Accountability and forgiveness
When someone threw a rock through a window 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 part of a relapse by an alcoholic struggling with his addiction. He wrote a letter to the congregation offering to do whatever it took to make things right. The congregation did not press charges: “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)
Preschool leaves church over sanctuary vote
After the Unitarian Universalist Church of Boulder, Colorado, voted to become a sanctuary for immigrants under threat of deportation, a preschool run from the church closed down operations because concerned parents removed their children.
“We wish them all the best in their other location,” the congregation’s minister, the Rev. Kelly Dignan, said. “Our congregation will continue to offer big, courageous love in a world that would have us feel paralyzed by fear.” (Daily Camera, 11/10/17)
Gun violence vigil
Andover, Massachusetts, resident Tim Marusich shared the story of his brother’s suicide at an interfaith vigil in early December. The Rev. Lara Hoke, of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Andover, was moved by the retelling. “Gun violence is much more common than people realize, whether the guns are used in homicide or suicide. The very presence of a gun makes it all too easy to take life and that was something he really brought home in his remarks,” said Hoke. (Andover Townsman, 12/14/17)
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