Volunteer teaching inspires Kansas retiree’s board work.
Graham Kreicker, of Lawrence, Kans., spent most of 2010 in Asunción, Paraguay, as a volunteer who taught conversational English at the national teachers’ college. It was his first opportunity to immerse himself deeply in another culture.
When he came home, after living out of two suitcases for a year, he sold his five-bedroom house and moved into a 928-square-foot house in a fully integrated neighborhood.
He said, “Through the process of teaching and seeing how little some people have in the world, I made a decision to try to live a life of a Unitarian Universalist fully engaged in antiracist, antioppressive behaviors.”
Kreicker was elected to the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Board of Trustees this past spring from the UUA’s Prairie Star District, which includes Kansas, Nebraska, North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, and parts of Missouri and Wisconsin.
Kreicker is a member of the UUA board’s Communications Working Group and the Finance Committee. He hopes to help improve communications with congregations. “One of our big challenges is linkage with congregations,” he said, adding that he has visited 15 congregations since January.
He’s also looking toward the Justice General Assembly in Phoenix next June. “We need to get far more people coming for the first time to attend GA. We should not discourage those who regularly come,” he said. “But people who have never been need to come and see what really happens.”
Kreicker was born into a Unitarian family in 1936 in Chicago. He graduated from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and had a career in advertising, marketing, sales, and public relations for products including construction equipment, pharmaceuticals, and chemicals.
For 13 years Kreicker has been a member of the Unitarian Fellowship of Lawrence, which was established on the Kansas frontier in 1855 by Massachusetts abolitionists. Before that he lived in Indiana. He served three terms on the city council in Warsaw, Ind., and served on many community boards.
Kreicker was in the Marines from 1958 to 1961 and then served 23 years in the Marine Corps Reserves, retiring as a colonel.
He has been president of both the Lawrence and Fort Wayne, Ind., congregations, and he retains membership in both communities, as well as in the Church of the Larger Fellowship. He is currently a member of the Prairie Star District Board of Trustees.
Kreicker is a cofounder of SCORE (Southern Cluster Outreach and Extension), an extension program of congregations in Kansas and All Souls UU Church in Kansas City, Mo. SCORE helped create one new congregation and contributed to four others achieving either part-time or full-time ministry. Kreicker was part of a group that led the city of Lawrence to adopt the first living wage ordinance in Kansas. He also advocates for transparency in city and county government.
His current commitments include helping collect and preserve the work of World War II European refugee authors living in the United States. Two nights a week Kreicker teaches English to immigrants in Lawrence.
He’s looking forward to his UUA board work. “Being retired, I have the time to do this work. I also have some expertise in raising money,” he said.
He supports the UUA board’s move toward Policy Governance. “Policy Governance is long overdue,” he said. “Boards generally spend too much time reviewing and approving things that have already taken place. We have a real opportunity to focus on goals—the ends—and keep everyone on track to facilitate those.”
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Donald E. Skinner was the founding editor of the InterConnections newsletter for congregational leaders and a senior editor of UU World from 1998 until his retirement in 2014. He is a member of the Shawnee Mission Unitarian Universalist Church in Lenexa, Kansas.
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