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In Memory of Martha L Munson (1953-2017)

Posted By Allison King, Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The Rev. Martha Lois Munson died on July 2, 2017 at the age of 64.

 

Martha was born on April 24, 1953 in Cortland, NY to parents Charles G. Munson and Mary B. Munson. Her mother was a second-generation Unitarian Universalist, and the church became Martha’s second family from a very young age. After moving to Rhode Island when she was five, Martha began attending the First Unitarian Church of Providence—the congregation that would later ordain her. Martha graduated from Ithaca College in 1977 with a Bachelor of Arts in Planned Studies; having heeded the call to become a minister, Martha created a custom curriculum in order to prepare herself for the seminary. And indeed she then attended Andover Newton Theological Seminary, receiving her Master of Divinity in 1980.

 

Rev. Munson was ordained by the First Unitarian Church of Providence, RI on May 4, 1980. In that year she began her first ministry position—as a resident chaplain at a University of Virginia Medical Center, where she served for two years. She was then called to the Unitarian Universalist Church of Olinda in Ruthven, ON, serving the congregation from 1982 to 1987. Rev. Munson then agreed to minister simultaneously to two new congregations in Ontario: the Church of the Unitarian Fellowship (now the Unitarian Congregation of Niagara) in St. Catharines (1987 – 1991), and the First Unitarian Church of Hamilton (1987 – 1992). Rev. Munson was then called to the UU Church of East Aurora, NY, returning to the Finger Lakes region of her early childhood. She served UUEA for twelve blessed years. After moving on from UUEA, Rev. Munson carried out a series of vital Interim Ministries at the following congregations: the First UU Society of Syracuse, NY (2006 – 2008); the First UU Church of Youngstown, OH (2008 – 2009); the UU Church of the North Hills in Pittsburgh, PA (2009 – 2011); and finally the First Universalist Church of Rochester, NY (2011 – 2014).

 

Outside of her ministry, Martha performed much essential service to the denomination. She served as the Vice President and later as President of MSUU—the UU women ministers’ association. Rev. Munson also chaired the UU Ministers of Canada association for several years. While ministering to the UU Church of East Aurora, Martha took on the additional role of the congregation’s Social Justice Chair from 2003 to 2006. Finally, Rev. Munson led the UU Ministers’ Association Iroquois Chapter from 2008 to 2009.

 

In her spare time, Martha greatly enjoyed cooking. She also held a deep love for the outdoors, going on walks and camping in the great forests of New York State and Canada. And whenever fellow players were on hand, Martha relished a good game of bridge.

 

She is survived by siblings Harold Munson (Sarah) and Kay Weaver (Don), stepchildren Matthew Franke-Singer and Michele Barringer (Tom), and 3 grandchildren. She was predeceased by spouse Rev. David Franke.

 

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Planned Parenthood – Batavia Health Center, 222 W Main St, Batavia, NY 14020 (operated by Planned Parenthood of Central and Western New York, Inc.), and to Habitat for Humanity of Genesee County, NY.

 

A memorial service was held on Saturday, July 15 at First Universalist Church in Rochester, 150 S Clinton Ave, Rochester, NY 14604.

 

Notes of condolence can be sent to barrinm@gischools.org.

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In Memory of Sandra G. Lee (1942-2017)

Posted By Allison King, Monday, August 28, 2017
The Rev. Sandra Gillogly Lee died on June 23, 2017 at the age of 74.

Sandra was born on September 1, 1942 to parents Russell and Vedia Mae Gillogly, and grew up in Ponca City, OK. She received a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from Central State College in Edmond, OK in 1969, and worked for many years as a microbiologist. After moving to the Pacific Northwest in 1979, Sandra became active in the Kitsap UU Fellowship of Bremerton, WA, a small, struggling fellowship; within nine months Sandra was elected Board President, and over the next five years also served as the congregation’s Worship Committee Chair, Building Campaign Chair, Auction Chair, and workshop leader. This lay service proved to be extremely rewarding, and Sandra perceived her call toward professional ministry—earning a Master of Divinity from Vancouver School of Theology in 1988. Sandra considered herself a naturalistic mystic, and in 1998 she attained a Doctorate of Theology from the University of Creation Spiritualty in Oakland, CA.

Rev. Lee was ordained by the First Unitarian Church of Portland, OR on May 30, 1988, and was first called to serve Washington’s Olympia UU Congregation. Sandra served the Olympia congregation for ten years, during which she married her beloved husband Don Bell and completed a pilgrimage to Olympia’s sister-church in Transylvania. It was under Rev. Lee’s leadership that the congregation was able to finance and construct its new church building, gain recognition as a Welcoming Congregation, and create many vital staff positions—including Music Director and Director of Religious Education. Rev. Lee was then called to minister to the UU Congregation of the Grand Valley in Grand Junction, CO from 2000 to 2002, following which she served for a year as Interim Minister of the Columbine UU Church of Littleton, CO. Sandra then served as a hospice chaplain for several years before retiring from the ministry.

Sandra’s innumerable interests included philosophy, theology, spiritual exploration, silversmithing, paper and fabric crafts, winemaking, as well as air dynamics and the manufacture of kites. Greatly valuing the exchange of wisdom across faith traditions, Sandra was very active in the Interfaith Council of Washington. She also believed it deeply important to support the artistic endeavors of others, and was an enthusiastic appreciator of all manners of art. Post-retirement, Sandra herself worked nearly full-time as an art jeweler and quilt artist, winning several national quilting competitions. Sandra also studied and admired all creation and natural phenomena, treasuring the animals who were her dear companions—including fish, a raccoon, a sheep, and many dogs and cats.

Sandra’s spouse Don shared several humorous anecdotes about their joyous life together, including how they spent their honeymoon at the 1989 Pacific Northwest District Leadership School, as well as the following:

Sandra and Frances Buckmaster attended seminary at the Vancouver School of Theology… and they were the first non-Christian students to attend there. Sandra invited the Dean, Rev Arthur Van Seters, to give the address for her Ordination, and he consented to do so. At the end of his six hour drive from Vancouver to Portland, he crossed the Fremont Bridge… The only part of his address that I remember is this: "As I crossed that tall bridge a couple of miles back, I saw two little tugboats turning this huge oceangoing freighter around in the river, and I thought: That is much like Sandra and Frances, two little tugboats turning around this big institution." She was not particularly fond of me calling her ‘my cute little tugboat,’ but she tolerated it, possibly because of her immense admiration for the Dean.

In the Olympia UU Congregation’s own tribute to Rev. Lee’s life and ministry, Rev. Carol McKinley offered these words: “Sandra is remembered for her enthusiasm and capacity for laughter and fun… In her art, she attempted to balance opposites: soft and hard, light and dark, serious and whimsical. She was an enthusiastic celebrant of life in its abundance and diversity.”

And Darlene Sarkala, administrator at the Olympia church, remembered a congregant saying of Rev. Lee: “After hearing the sermons of other ministers I often left the experience asking myself, ‘Am I doing enough?’ or, ‘What do I have to do to be better?’ But with Sandra I never left feeling guilty.” Don expressed that this trait was “an absolute with [Sandra]: Every sermon must end with a message of hope, not fear or despair.”

Rev. Lee is survived by spouse Don Bell and sister Marsha Green.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to NARAL Pro-Choice America, to the Red Phred and the Tu-tones Support Fund c/o Don Bell (address below), or to the charity of one’s own choosing.

A memorial service will take place on Tuesday, October 31, 2017 at the Grand Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 536 Ouray Ave, Grand Junction, CO 81501. At 4pm the congregation will hold a viewing and silent auction of Sandra’s prize-winning quilts, jewelry, and other memorabilia, with proceeds going to charities she endorsed. The celebration of life will begin at 5pm, and at 5:59pm the arrival of sunset will be saluted—followed by music, wine, and stories.

Notes of condolence can be sent to Don Bell at 315 Ouray Ave, Grand Junction, CO 81501 and at DonWayneBell@gmail.com.

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In Loving Memory of ALFRED J.N. HENRIKSEN (1922-2017)

Posted By Allison King, Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Rev. Alfred “Al” James Norman Henriksen, died on June 24, 2017 at the age of 95.

 

Al was born on January 21, 1922 in Boston, MA to parents James Henriksen and Anna Syversen Henriksen. He was raised in the Baptist and Lutheran faiths, but converted to Unitarianism after attending the Wollaston Unitarian Church in Quincy, MA. Al graduated with a B.A. from Tufts University in 1945, then went on to earn a Master of Divinity in 1947 from Tufts’ Crane Theological School. He later attained a Master of Arts in Sociology from the University of Iowa in 1955.

 

Rev. Henriksen was ordained on October 10, 1946 by All Souls Church (now UU Community Church) of Augusta, ME, where he would minister until 1951. In that year he was called to serve the First Unitarian (now UU) Society of Iowa City, which named its library in Rev. Henriksen’s honor. Al was then called to the Unitarian Fellowship (now Church) of Corpus Christi, TX from 1957 to 1963; he would later reflect that “the experience of being the first minister to a fellowship taught me ecclesiastical humility.” In 1963 Rev. Henriksen was called to the Pacific Unitarian Church, where he would minister for 24 years of dedicated service. The congregation named its auditorium in Rev. Henriksen’s honor, and when Al retired from full-time ministry in 1987 the church elected him their Minister Emeritus. In retirement, Rev. Henriksen continued his service to the faith by carrying out four interim ministries at the following congregations: Beacon UU Congregation in Summit, NJ (1987 – 1988); First Unitarian Society of Plainfield, NJ (1988 – 1989); UU Fellowship of Northern Nevada (1989 – 1990); and First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles, Inc. (1990 – 1991).

 

Over the many years of his ministry, Rev. Henriksen performed an array of denominational service. While ministering in Maine, Al served as Secretary of the Maine Unitarian Association and as his region’s Associate Director for the American Unitarian Association. Rev. Henriksen also served as President of his local UUMA Chapter while ministering in Texas and California. Al was a member of District Boards in New England, Iowa, Texas, and California; served on the UUA Planning Committee; and joined the UU Service Committee from 1977 to 1979. Finally, Rev. Henriksen was elected to two four-year terms on the UUA Board of Trustees, serving from 1977 to 1985.

 

In his spare time, Al was fond of playing golf, exercising, and dancing. He loved music, particularly jazz, and frequently attended the theater—having acted himself in his youth. And Rev. Henriksen was a great lover of travel and the outdoors: He enjoyed camping and backpacking; journeyed extensively throughout the United States, including to Alaska; and made extended visits to Canada, Mexico, Great Britain, the countries of Scandinavia, and India and Nepal—where he and wife Georgianne watched the sunrise on the Ganges River and from a mountaintop in the Himalayas.

 

Al devoted his whole life to his faith and to the beloved communities which he served. When reflecting on his ministry in the years after his retirement, Rev. Henriksen had these lovely words to offer:

 

I would like to think of the liberal church as having its feet on the ground, its hand to the plow, and its eyes on the stars. Let us dance and sing, let us create within our walls masterworks of art, images of newer and better ways of living—at concerts, art shows, committee meetings, public protests, in classes and in corridors, from the pulpits and in the hearts and minds of those who, when they join a church community, become greater by far than the sum of their parts.

 

He is survived by wife Georgianne Declercq; children James Peter, Carl (Beverly Thacker), and Heidi (Neal Conner); grandchildren Eric (Emily), Nini, Teddy, Becca Reeve (Alec), Rueben Connor, and Bryce Conner; stepchildren Erika Sweet (Jeff) and Renee Ackley, and their children Kevin Sweet, David Sweet, and Stephanie Ackley; and four great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by first wife Ruth Baxter Henriksen.

 

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Pacific Unitarian Church, 5621 Montemalaga Dr, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275.

 

A memorial service will take place at 4pm on Sunday, August 13, 2017 at Pacific Unitarian Church (address above).

 

Notes of condolence can be sent to Georgianne Declercq at 435 W 8th St #210, San Pedro, CA, 90731 and atGeorgianne.Declercq@gmail.com.

 

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In Loving Memory of JOAN KAHN-SCHNEIDER (1930 – 2017)

Posted By Allison King, Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Rev. Joan Kahn-Schneider died on June 18, 2017 at the age of 86.

 

Joan was born on September 13, 1930 to parents Emanual “Jerry” Kahn, Jr. and Selma Andorn Kahn. Before pursuing her call to ministry, Joan owned and operated a neighborhood book store. She later worked as a counselor in private practice, including offering guidance in family planning. Though raised Jewish, Joan found her spiritual home in 1971 at Northern Hills Fellowship (now the Gathering at Northern Hills) in Cincinnati, OH. Joan received a B.A. psychology from Antioch College in 1977; but she found herself drawn more toward the theological/philosophical areas of her study, and in 1981 she earned her Master of Divinity from United Theological Seminary. Finally, she would later earn a Master of Education – Organization and Management from Antioch New England Graduate School in 1999.

 

Rev. Kahn-Schneider was ordained on June 8, 1981 by her home congregation. She was first called to serve the UU Church of Farmington, MI until 1985, at which point she accepted a position as the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Ministerial Education Director. Rev. Kahn-Schneider then served as minister to the East Shore UU Church in Kirtland, OH from 1987 to 1989. In that year she accepted a call to the First UU Society of Albany, NY, where she ministered for eight years. After leaving Albany, Rev. Kahn-Schneider carried out a series of vital interim ministries at the following congregations: the UU Church of Concord, NH (1997 – 1999), the Unitarian Society of Hartford, CT (1999 – 2000), the Tennessee Valley UU Church (2000 – 2001), and the UU Church of Spartanburg, SC (2001 – 2002). Though Joan officially retired in 2003, she continued to serve as an independent congregation consultant for several years. This work led her to the UU Church of Savannah, GA, where she was invited to stay on as minister from 2004 to 2009. Finally, she returned to minister for one year at the Gathering at Northern Hills in Cincinnati (2013 – 2014), following which she became a member of the UU Fellowship of Hendersonville, NC.

 

Rev. Kahn-Schneider’s service on behalf of the denomination was extensive. She served as President of the Ministerial Sisterhood Unitarian Universalist, a forum for women clergy. While ministering in Michigan, Joan served as Good Offices Person for her UU Ministers’ Association Chapter. She was also Vice-Chair of the UU Council of Cincinnati Program Committee. Rev. Kahn-Schneider also served on the UUA’s Board of Review, and while a member of the UUA staff she held positions in several committees: the Continuing Education Committee, the Joint Theological Schools Committee, and the Theological Grants Panel.

 

Joan had several works published in her lifetime, including Second Order Structure of the ParentSensuous UUs, and Character of Heretic: On the Life of Joseph Priestly. And her sermon entitled “Homophobia,” which she delivered to the 1984 UUA General Assembly, won that year’s Skinner Sermon Award.

 

In her spare time Joan held many avocational interests, among which were reading, theater-going, needlework, candle-making, gardening, antiquing, going on walks, and sailing. She was also an appreciator of music, both as a listener and as an auto-harpist. And in 1998 she expressed “an as yet unfulfilled desire to play a really good game of tennis.”

 

In the family’s own obituary for Joan, they offered the following beautiful remembrance:

 

Rev. Joan Kahn-Schneider was a force. She lived life on her terms.  Young mother raising 4 kids in the sixties, entrepreneur, soul searcher, therapist, Unitarian Universalist minister. Always going, always growing, helping many people along the way.  … And now, she has easily and peacefully moved on and is dancing in the Light with her Charlie. She will be missed.

 

She is survived by children David Friedman, Jim Friedman, Robin Guethlein, and Jerri Menaul; eight grandchildren; and sister Lu Cohen. She was predeceased by her beloved spouse Charlie.

 

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the UUA Living Tradition Fund or to the charity of one’s own choosing.

 

A memorial service took place at 4pm on Saturday, July 29, 2017, at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Hendersonville, 409 E Patterson St, Hendersonville, NC, 28739.

 

Notes of condolence can be sent to JimFriedman@mac.com.

 

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In memory of William R. Murry (1932-2017)

Posted By Administration, Friday, July 21, 2017

The Rev. Dr. William “Bill” Russell Murry died on July 6, 2017 at the age of 85. 

Bill was born in Jefferson City, MO on June 19, 1932. He received a Bachelor of Arts from Oklahoma Baptist University in 1954, a Master of Divinity from Yale University in 1957, and a Ph.D. in Theology and Culture from Drew University in 1970. Bill began his career as a Baptist pastor in Shelton, CT, following which he accepted a joint appointment as University Minister at the Riverside Church and as Campus Minister at Columbia University in New York City. 

Rev. Dr. Murry held two further academic appointments before becoming a Unitarian Universalist minister in 1977, at which time he was called to the UU Church of Bloomington, IN. In 1980 he was called to the River Road UU Congregation in Bethesda, MD. Rev. Dr. Murry carried out a strong pulpit ministry with a major emphasis on social responsibility, and during his 17 year tenure at River Road the congregation nearly doubled in membership and their community service and social justice work increased considerably. In 1997 Rev. Dr. Murry accepted the role of President and Academic Dean of Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago, IL. During his seven years serving the seminary, Bill led a period of institutional growth and revitalization—appointing six new faculty members, expanding the curriculum, and seeing the student body increase from 60 to 115 students. Before his retirement in 2004, the River Road congregation honored Rev. Dr. Murry as their Minister Emeritus. 

Bill’s work for the Unitarian Universalist Association included serving as Chair of the planning committee of the National Social Justice Workshop for three years, Ministerial Settlement Representative for the Joseph Priestley District for six years, and President of the Chesapeake chapter of the Unitarian Universalist Minister’s Association. 

Alongside his ministry, Bill labored passionately on behalf of the communities to which he belonged. While ministering in Bloomington, he also served on the Board of Planned Parenthood and helped to start the city’s hospice. Then after moving to Maryland, he became active in affordable housing work—serving as a founding member and first board chair of the Montgomery Housing Partnership, and also helping found the Unitarian Universalist Affordable Housing Corporation. In 1995 he was recognized for his work in affordable housing by the Montgomery County Housing Opportunities Commission. 

Bill was also the author of numerous articles and three books: A Faith for All Seasons: Liberal Religion and the Crises of Life, in which he formulated liberal religious perspectives on the question of life’s meaning, the problems of pain and suffering, loss and grief, and death and dying; Reason and Reverence: Religious Humanism for the 21st Century, which articulates humanism grounded in religious naturalism and responds to some criticisms of humanism; and Becoming More Fully Human: Religious Humanism as a Way of Life, which treats humanism as both a philosophy and a way of living with joy and responsibility. 

After retiring from the presidency of Meadville Lombard in 2003, Bill continued his writing, speaking engagements, and service as a board member of the UU Humanist Association and the UU Legislative Ministry of Maryland. He was honored in 2012 with the UU Retired Ministers and Partners Association’s first “Creative Sage-ing Award.” In 2017 Rev. Dr. Murry co-edited an anthology entitled Humanist Voices in Unitarian Universalism, and at the 2017 General Assembly in New Orleans the UU Humanist Association honored him as the first recipient of its Lifetime Achievement Award “for extraordinary contributions to Religious Humanism and Unitarian Universalism.” 

Bill died content that his work and his life had impacted the world around him. With characteristic humility and great faith in the ongoing journey of life, he wrote of his own journey:
I have accomplished what I wanted to. I’ve been blessed with a wonderful wife, three terrific children and many good friends. I believe I have made some worthwhile contributions to the lives of others and the communities of which I have been a part and hence also the ongoing evolutionary process of life. 

Rev. Nancy McDonald Ladd, senior minister at River Road UU, offered these words in remembrance of Rev. Dr. Murry:

Bill was an inspiring teacher and mentor to a great many members of the UU clergy as well as countless laypersons and professed humanists across the country… He is remembered for his authenticity, integrity and the humility and intellectual rigor he applied to the great ethical questions of life… The influence of his powerful sermons, lectures and books will continue to enlighten and enrich the lives of many.

He is survived by wife of 53 years Barbara Wesp Murry; sons Brian, Jon, and Christopher; four grandchildren; sisters Jane King and Ettus Hiatt, and sister-in-law the Rev. Marjorie Montgomery.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the scholarship fund at Meadville-Lombard Theological School.

A memorial service will take place at 2pm on Saturday, August 5, 2017 at the River Road Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 6301 River Rd, Bethesda, MD 20817. Notes of condolence can be sent to the Murry Family at 701 King Farm Blvd, Rockville, MD, 20850.

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In memory of Daniel G. Higgins, JR. (1927-2017)

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, July 18, 2017
The Rev. Daniel Greeley Higgins, Jr. died on June 9, 2017 at the age of 90.

Dan Jr. was born in Easton, MD on February 27, 1927 to parents Anna and Dan Higgins, and grew up in nearby Claiborne, where his father (“Capt. Dan”) captained the village ferry. After high school Dan served in the army from 1944 to 1946, stationed in Japan and attaining the rank of Sergeant. Then in 1951 Dan received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Maryland, where he met Jean Scheufele—the woman who would become his wife of almost 60 years. Dan later earned two degrees in Sacred Theology from Temple University: a bachelor’s in 1954 and a master’s in 1965. Finally, in 1977 he attained a Doctor of Ministry from Meadville Lombard Theological School.

Dan, by his own account, had possessed a “religious instinct” since childhood, and preached his first sermon at his family’s Methodist church when he was just 15. Rev. Higgins became a Student Minister with the Methodists in 1951 and was fully ordained by the church’s Peninsula Annual Conference in May of 1955. He then served as a 1st Lt. in the Army Chaplain Corps in post-war Korea from 1956 to 1959, following which he ministered to two Methodist churches.

In the early ‘60s Rev. Higgins sought a new spiritual home with the Unitarian Universalist Association, and in 1965 he was called to serve as associate minister to—and was ordained a second time by—First Parish in Lexington, MA. Dan ministered to the Lexington congregation for four years, before taking up a call to the First UU Church of Lubbock, TX from 1969 to 1972. Then for two years Rev. Higgins served the UUs for Black and White Action group as its Director of Programming and its Minister for Human Unity and Social Change. Rev. Higgins then accepted a call to the First Parish in Malden, MA, where he would minister from 1975 until his official retirement in 1987, at which time the congregation honored Dan as their Minister Emeritus. Post-retirement, Dan and Jean moved back to the Chesapeake region of Maryland, and Rev. Higgins began offering sermons and performing pastoral work at two local congregations—the UU Fellowship at Easton and the UU Fellowship at Salisbury. In the early ‘90s Dan also helped a new congregation get off the ground: the UUs of the Chester River, in Chestertown, MD. His continued service was honored by his being named Minister Emeritus to both the Easton congregation and to UUCR (in 1997 and 1999, respectively).

Rev. Higgins also served in a variety of other roles on behalf the denomination. He was the Vice President in charge of membership for UU Advance, as well as a UUA Delegate to the Massachusetts Council of Churches. Dan also chaired Commission I (USA) of the International Association for Religious Freedom. Additionally, Rev. Higgins served on the Board of Directors for the UUA’s Massachusetts Bay District (now part of the New England Region), representing the district on the UUA’s Board of Trustees in 1987. Finally, Dan chaired the General Assembly Planning Committee from 1991 to 1993.

Outside of his ministry, Dan was an ever-engaged servant of his community. He remained in the Army Reserve for many years, attaining a final rank of Major. While in Lubbock, TX he served as President of Lubbock’s Ecumenical Council of Social Concerns, and in Malden, MA he presided over the city’s Council of Churches and its Clergy Association. Post-retirement, Dan was active in Maryland’s St. Michaels Fire Department, as well as in Talbot County’s NAACP and Habitat for Humanity organizations. In his spare time, he enjoyed gardening, furniture restoration/caning, and sailing.

Dan’s daughter Cynthia had these thoughts to share in remembrance of her father:

I often told our father that he was the most self-effacing person I knew. He had a profound sense of justice, and took his responsibilities to the church and the community very seriously. Dad spent hours crafting his sermons, locating just the right word or phrase. He was fond of taking inspiration from his favorite comic strip, Peanuts. Dad had a beautiful singing voice—a deep bass that resonated throughout many a sanctuary.

Pat Bjorke, Board President of UUCR, offered these words after Rev. Higgins’s passing:

Dan was an unassuming person, perhaps the most humble person I have ever known. But his presence and dignity immediately filled a room… I feel immeasurably blessed to have known Rev. Dan. Although I am sad at his passing, his was a life remarkably lived and generously shared.

He is survived by children Daniel G. Higgins III, Cynthia Westlake, Ann Spicer, and Kim Clark; grandchildren Caitlin Lankford, Skyler Westlake, and Shane and Aubree Clark; and great-grandson Myles Lankford. He was predeceased by wife Jean, sister Charlotte Weems, two brothers who died in childhood, and grandson Austen Westlake.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the St. Michaels Fire Dept., 1001 S. Talbot St, St. Michaels, MD 21663; and to the Rev. Daniel Higgins Scholarship Fund, c/o Barbara Baldwin, Meadville Lombard Theological School, 610 S. Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60605.

A memorial service is being planned for September, to take place at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship at Easton, MD.

Notes of condolence can be sent to 3444 Orange Wood Ct, Marietta, GA, 30062; and to woocjw@aol.com.

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In memory of Charles S. Stephen, JR. (1932-2017)

Posted By Michelle Pederson, Tuesday, July 18, 2017
The Rev. Dr. Charles Stedman Stephen, Jr. died on May 29, 2017 at the age of 85.

Charles Jr. was born on February 5, 1932 in Melrose, MA to parents Charles Stedman Stephen and Barbara Hill Stephen, and grew up in the Greenwood neighborhood of Wakefield, MA. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Northeastern University in 1955, then earned a Bachelor of Divinity from Crane Theological School in 1958. Rev. Dr. Stephen would later attain a Doctor of Sacred Theology from Starr King School for the Ministry in 1982.

Rev. Dr. Stephen was ordained on June 15, 1958 by the Melrose Unitarian Church. He was first called to serve the First Parish Church of Billerica, MA from 1958 until 1961. In that year, Rev. Dr. Stephen accepted a call to the Unitarian Church of Lincoln, NE. Rev. Dr. Stephen loyally and lovingly ministered to the Lincoln congregation for 35 years; his service there was only interrupted by a brief stint as an exchange minister at the Great Meeting Unitarian Chapel in Leicester, England (June 1977 – January 1978), as well as twice offering his services as a Minister on Loan in the 1980s. Upon his retirement in 1996, Rev. Dr. Stephen was elected by the Unitarian Church of Lincoln as their Minister Emeritus.

Well known for his powers of writing and oration, Charles won the Skinner Award in 1963 for his sermon “The Gentle People of Prejudice,” and in June of 1973 the Unitarian Universalist Ministers’ Association chose him as their Berry Street Essayist. Rev. Dr. Stephen also gave the sermon to the 25 year ministers at General Assembly in 1983, and delivered the Sermon of the Living Tradition at General Assembly in 1988.

Outside of his ministry, Rev. Dr. Stephen performed an array of service to the denomination. He was a member and President of the Prairie Star District Board (now part of the MidAmerica Region) from 1966 to 1970. Charles also served as the Secretary of the UU Ministers Association's Executive Committee for three years beginning in 1971, and from that same year until 1975 he was a member of the UUA's Nominating Committee. Rev. Dr. Stephen also served on the Ministerial Fellowship Committee from 1975 until 1984. In 1985, Charles edited the UUA Meditation Manual The Gift of the Ordinary. Finally, Rev. Dr. Stephen worked as a Ministerial Settlement Representative from 1983 to 1991; furthermore, on behalf of the Settlement Task Force he carried out an extensive survey of the UUA's ministerial settlement system in the early '90s.

Charles was ever a passionate champion for the causes in which he believed: He was a founder of both Lincoln’s Planned Parenthood as well as the Nebraska Civil Liberties Union. Being a deep lover of books, Rev. Dr. Stephen also hosted the show All About Books on Nebraska’s public radio station, and reviewed books for the Lincoln Star Journal.

Charles’s daughter Susan shared these lovely words in memory of her father: “Man of letters; man of the Red Sox. Hiker of mountains, canoe paddler of oceans, tickler of children, crossword puzzler, lover of opera.”

In reflecting upon his call in 1978, Rev. Dr. Stephen offered the following: “I see my own role as minister as one of facilitating and instigating, as one of educating and inspiring. I seek to share myself with others, to share my own doubts and my own fears and to thereby be open, I trust, to the sharing of others.”

And finally, to quote Charles quoting Jorge Luis Borges, “I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.”

He is survived by wife of 63 years Patricia; children Debra June, Susan Elizabeth (Michael Jensen), David Charles (Anne Hinshaw), Karl Scott (Janet Kleine), and Bruce Jonathan; ten grandchildren; seven great-grandchildren; and brothers Sanders and Mark.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Unitarian Church of Lincoln, 6300 A Street, Lincoln, NE 68510; to Nebraska’s Planned Parenthood of the Heartland; to the American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska; and to NET of Nebraska.

A memorial service took place at 4pm on Saturday, June 17, 2017 at the Unitarian Church of Lincoln.

Notes of condolence can be sent to Pat Stephen at 7005 Shamrock Road Unit 109, Lincoln, NE 68506.

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In memory of Marcia W. Schekel (1946-2017)

Posted By Michelle Pederson, Wednesday, July 5, 2017
The Rev. Marcia Welsh Schekel died on May 18, 2017 at the age of 70.

Marcia Welsh was born on June 4, 1946 in Marion, OH to parents Joe and Margaret Welsh.  She and her two younger brothers grew up in Dayton, OH until Marcia was 13, when the family moved to Boulder, CO. Marcia attended Colorado State University, graduating in 1968 with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. Marcia met Kurt Schekel while they were both at CSU, and they married upon Marcia’s graduation. She later attained a Master of Arts in Adult and Continuing Education from Washington State University in 1978, as well as a Master of Arts in Applied Theology from Marylhurst University in 2004.

Rev. Schekel was ordained by the First Unitarian Church of Portland on April 15, 2007. Prior to her ordination, Marcia’s commitment to serving in the wider community was evident. She joined the staff at WSU after earning her Master’s degree—first as the university’s Director of Women’s programs (1978 – 1983) and then as its Continuing Education Manager (1983 – 1998). Though raised Roman Catholic, in adulthood Marcia felt drawn toward a more liberal/feminist theology; she became active in the Methodist church, volunteering as a religious educator for 14 years. In 1983 she also began working for Elderhostel (now Road Scholar); it was there that Marcia found her “models for aging,” seeing firsthand that “wonder and awe are possible in the later years.” Eventually, in 1998, Elderhostel offered Marcia a job in Portland, OR—just two days after her son Matt was killed in a bicycle accident there. Marcia found herself spiritually seeking once again, and in 2000 she joined the First Unitarian Church of Portland. She began training as a hospice volunteer, learning how to be with the dying, to facilitate bereavement groups, and to offer support for those living with AIDS. Soon she embraced what she understood to be her calling: chaplaincy work with hospice. Marcia became a hospice chaplain at Providence Home and Community Services in 2004, and was quickly recognized for the gifts she shared with those to whom she ministered:  her warm availability, her quiet strength, and her profound well of compassion. Once ordained, Rev. Schekel deepened her community ministry and continued her chaplaincy as her congregation’s affiliated minister until her retirement in 2013.

Outside of her ministry, Rev. Schekel held several volunteer positions at her Portland congregation. She served as a teacher for the Spiritual Growth for Adults Program beginning in 2002, as a member of the Senior Minister’s Ministerial Relations committee beginning in 2003, as a Lay Ministry trainer from 2004 to 2006, and as volunteer staff for the Pacific Northwest Area General Meeting in 2005.

In her spare time, Marcia and Kurt loved to explore the beautiful Northwest. Going on walks, growing a large garden, and watching the birds were a treasured pastime. She also greatly enjoyed reading—poetry, essays, fiction, and nonfiction. And Marcia took spiritual nourishment from praying, meditating, and doing yoga; as well as from her beloved family and friends, new and old.

While pursuing her calling, Rev. Schekel offered this lovely reflection on her vital ministry:

As a staff chaplain to patients and their families, I meet people where they are. I enter into their experience with curiosity and acceptance for their path and what gives life meaning. My role is to listen without judging, evoke without forcing, and understand without condescending… It gives me joy! I quote Buddhist writer Pema Chödrön when I say, “How did I get so lucky to have my heart awakened to others and their suffering?”

 She is survived by husband Kurt, son Zachary (Tiffany), brother Mike (Cathy), and four grandchildren.

 In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to First Unitarian Church, 1211 SW Main St, Portland, OR 97205; to the Matt Schekel Memorial Scholarship Fund at Seeds of Learning; and to the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation.

A memorial service took place at 1pm on Monday, May 29, 2017 at the First Unitarian Church of Portland.

Notes of condolence can be sent to Kurt Schekel at 12400 SE 15th St, Vancouver, WA 98683.


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In memory of Robert C. Kimball (1928-2017)

Posted By Michelle Pederson, Wednesday, June 28, 2017
Rev. Dr. Robert “Bob” Charles Kimball died on May 29, 2017 at the age of 88.

Bob was born on June 6, 1928 in Rochester, NY, to parents Frederick Booth Kimball and Marguerite Steinmiller Kimball. He received a BA in psychology from Oberlin College in 1951, an MA in philosophy from Oberlin Graduate School in 1953, a BD from Oberlin Graduate School of Theology in 1955, and a PhD in the history and philosophy of religion from Harvard University in 1960.

Dr. Kimball was ordained in 1955 by the Medina Association of the Congregational Churches of Northern Ohio (now the United Church of Christ). He also held joint ministerial standing in the Unitarian Universalist Associations of Congregations. He served as minister of education in the First Hungarian Reformed Church of Cleveland, Ohio (1952-1955), and First Congregational Church of Hyde Park, Massachusetts (1955-1958). Kimball served as Lecturer on Religion and Mental Health at Harvard Divinity School (1959-1960), Professor of Theology at Starr King School for the Ministry, and member of the core doctoral faculty of the Graduate Theological Union of Berkeley, California (1960-1998). He was also President of Starr King School for the Ministry from 1968-1983, and Dean from 1983-1997.

In 1959, theologian Paul Tillich appointed Dr. Kimball as his literary executor, a position he held until 1987. Following Tillich's death in 1965, Bob worked closely with Hannah Tillich, the executor of Paul Tillich's estate, concerning literary matters and the establishment of the Tillich archives at Andover-Harvard Theological Library. Dr. Kimball was the editor of Theology of Culture: Essays by Paul Tillich (1959) and the author of several books including Restless Is the Heart (1988), Sanctified Violence (2004), A Chinese Lady and Friends (2010), and Dilemma: The Christianity Faith (2011).

Bob loved writing sonnets, and he wrote one every year for his birthday. His last sonnet exemplifies his commitment to his wife, Lorna. They were a true team for 65 years. The last paragraph reads:

 

The purpose of it all, for several years, since memory-loss became Our concern,

is for Lorna to feel (as well as be) secure and happy in Our lovely home,

which Lorna found, as she always has, and keeps beautiful;   and I learn

each day, often each hour-moment, of love as a living poem.

Bob also loved to visit local places and converse with anyone and everyone. An avid walker, he exercised every day. He also loved to play in the kitchen, experimenting with different ways to marinade meats. He also greatly cared for his daughter’s two Newfoundland dogs. His grandchildren called him “Boppa”—a compromise, since he wanted to be called Bob, and not Grampa.

Bob was immensely grateful to his children for their help in his caring for Lorna as she battled Alzheimer’s toward the end of her life, and he talked to his children daily.

His legacy at Starr King School for the Ministry was long. Retired Starr King Professor and longtime friend Ron Cook remembers:

Besides reviving the near defunct Starr King School for the Ministry in the late 60s, but keeping its student-centered education as the foundation of Thomas King School for Religious Leadership; and encouraging the admission of many women and gay students; and creating don rags and the non-resident period; and opening membership on the Board, Admissions, Scholarship and Curriculum Committees to students, and allowing students to teach classes (he deeply believed that students brought knowledge and experience and could be trusted in wanting to know more); and persistently supporting Hosea Williams and the Center for Urban Black Studies to the irritation of the presidents of the other GTU schools; he was a serious clarinetist and could discuss, into the night, the differences and strengths in Bennie Goodman and Artie Shaw; and could also appreciate fine films like the Die Hard series, seemingly written by 14 year olds for 12 year olds.

Former student Keith Kron, now the Transitions Director at the UUA, who studied and worked with Bob (as well as serving on the faculty search committee with him in 1996) remembers:

Bob’s use of purple and green to describe theological concepts was well-known by every student: Green being used to described groundedness, connection, and oneness with God and life, and purple represented disconnection and non-presence to the Holy. When I had to be out of the office on a UU trip, I left Bob a note that said, “I’m off to Spokane today and won’t be in the office. But I decided, when I had to make a choice, to take the green shirt as opposed to the purple one.”  Bob wrote to him—and to anything purple—a note of apology in reply. 

He is survived by children Seth, Jeanette, Amy, and Paul; and six grandchildren. He was predeceased earlier this year by wife of 65 years, the love of his life, Lorna Jean Thomas.

In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that contributions be made to the charity of one’s own choosing, though specific donations to Starr King School for the Ministry are also welcomed.

There will be no formal memorial service, but a barbeque is being planned whereat family and friends can gather in remembrance of Bob.

Notes of condolence can be sent to transitions@uua.org, where they will be gathered and sent to the family.

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In memory of Robert S. Slater (1928-2017)

Posted By Michelle Pederson, Thursday, May 25, 2017
The Rev. Robert “Bob” Stephen Slater died on April 28, 2017 at the age of 89.

Bob was born on January 16, 1928 in Pasadena, MD. One of five children, Bob would later say that he owed an “immeasurable love” to his mother, who raised him and his siblings on her own (and later with the support of a stepfather) after their father passed away in 1931. Bob graduated from Glen Burnie High School in 1945, after which he served in the Coast Guard for 18 months. He then attended the University of Baltimore and graduated in 1951, aided by the G.I. Bill. Bob worked part-time during college, including at the Arthur Murray Dance Studio, where he met fellow dance teacher Robin Holzbach of Newport News, VA, a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Syracuse University and a former school teacher. On November 2, 1950, Bob took what he deemed “the most important and wonderful step of his life” by marrying Robin.

The couple subsequently decided on a career in ministry. Bob graduated from Harvard Divinity School in 1955, with a Bachelor of Sacred Theology. His first ministry position was in Pennsylvania at the First Unitarian Church of Pittsburgh, where from 1957 to 1959 he served as the congregation’s assistant minister. In 1963 Bob accepted a call to serve the First Parish Church United of Westford, MA, ministering there for five years. Then in 1968 Bob was called to serve the Unitarian Universalist Church of Greater Lynn, MA, where he faithfully ministered for almost twenty-two years. During those years he came to love every member and friend of the church, and upon his retirement in 1990 the congregation elected Bob their Minister Emeritus. Finally, post-retirement Bob performed a short interim ministry at St. Paul’s Church of Palmer, MA.

Outside his ministry, Bob was a dedicated servant of the communities where he lived. He carried out a variety of work for the Massachusetts Council of Churches and for the Massachusetts Bay District of UU Churches (now part of the New England Region of the UUA). Bob was also active with the UU Christian Fellowship, serving as its president for two years, and founded the UU Psi Symposium.

In his spare time, Bob continued to love going out ballroom dancing with Robin. He was a sports enthusiast, following the Red Sox, the Celtics, and the New England Patriots. He also relished travelling, especially to Hawaii. And even late in life he remained active in Edgar Cayce’s Association for Research and Enlightenment.

When writing his own obituary, which was read at the UU Church of Greater Lynn in lieu of a memorial service (in accordance with his wishes), Bob offered this lovely summary of his religious beliefs:

… all experiences in life offer opportunities for growth in the ways of love of all people and things, that the selfless example of Jesus is the way, and that life is continuous, not ending with the death of the physical body.

Bob is survived by daughters Tracy Slater (Franco Daamache) and Kelly Slater (John Wilkinson), nephews Douglas Webster and James Slater, and nieces Linda Trickey and Mary Kearney. He was predeceased by his wife of 65 years Robin H. Slater.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Unitarian Universalist Church of Greater Lynn, earmarked for the restoration and maintenance of their courtyard garden: UUCGL, 101 Forest Avenue, Swampscott, MA 01907.

Notes of condolence can be sent to Tracy Slater at 151 Tremont St 25G, Boston, MA 02111.

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