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In Memory of Martha L Munson (1953-2017)

Posted By Administration, 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.


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