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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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In memory of Cynthia J. Ward (1928-2017)

Posted By Michelle Pederson, Thursday, May 25, 2017
The Rev. Cynthia Johnson Ward died on May 9, 2017 at the age of 88.

Cynthia was born to parents Charles and Alice Johnson on August 11, 1928 in Auburndale, MA. She was raised in the Congregationalist faith, and would later reflect that she felt a call toward ministry as early as childhood: Her mother died when Cynthia was only five, raising “existential questions” that she believed faith could help her answer. In 1950 Cynthia earned a Bachelor of Arts from Douglass College (now Douglass Residential College) in New Brunswick, NJ. A year later she married her beloved husband Jack Ward, beginning a marriage that would last over 50 years.

Before her children were born, Cynthia worked as a journalist and editor; later she taught high school English, and earned a Master of Arts in Teaching from Trenton State College in 1975. Having transitioned with Jack away from the faith traditions of their childhoods and finding a spiritual home in Unitarian Universalism, Cynthia served as a religious educator at her congregations throughout the 60s and 70s. In 1975 she became the RE Coordinator at the Unitarian Church of Princeton (now the UU Congregation of Princeton), NJ, a position she would hold for seven years. After a time, however, Cynthia began to pursue her call toward ministry in earnest. She carried out her ministerial internship at the First UU Church of Essex County, N.J. from 1983 to 1984, and received a Master of Divinity from New Brunswick Theological Seminary in 1984. Finally on November 17, 1985 Rev. Ward was ordained by the Princeton congregation.

After ordination, Rev. Ward first spent a year as the Interim Minister at the First Unitarian Society of Westchester in Hastings-On-Hudson, NY, after which she served the First Unitarian Congregational Society of Brooklyn, NY as their Minister of Religious Education. Rev. Ward then returned to the Westchester congregation, ministering there from 1989 to 1992. Finally in 1994 she returned to the First UU Church of Essex County in Orange, NJ, serving the congregation for three years. Rev. Ward retired in 2000, but remained active in her congregations, most recently at the UU Congregation of Asheville, NC.

Outside of her ministry, Cynthia was a great appreciator of the arts: She enjoyed attending concerts and the theatre, as well as visiting art museums, galleries, and shows. She also took great pleasure in walking and biking, gourmet cooking, reading, and writing poetry. Additionally, Cynthia was a mentor to many women seeking professions in ministry and religious education at a time when many women met resistance entering these roles and being taken seriously. But by far her greatest joy was found in spending time with her loving family, who note that it is probably no coincidence that Cynthia’s five children found their own lives’ callings in ministry, education, and the arts.

In reflecting on her denomination and ministry, Cynthia once offered the following:

I believe the challenge of being a Unitarian Universalist is the challenge of discovering just what it is you do believe and how that belief/beliefs can be alive in your life. As a minister I believe in the challenge of creating a community of faith, hope, justice, and love… As a minister I believe in enabling persons to that challenge, that grows and changes in the life of the community and in the lives of the persons involved with that community. We come together today to make our visions into tomorrow’s reality.

Cynthia’s daughter, Rev. Lisa Ward, had these lovely words to say about her mother:

A lover of learning, mom remained curious in and embracing of life throughout her years. She drank in poetry, and wrote it well. She loved art and deeply engaging conversations. Ever searching spiritually, she expressed her findings to the delight of others. I learned many things from my mother. I will ever hold her in my heart.

Cynthia is survived by children Mark, Keith, Terry, Lisa, and Scott Ward, as well as by seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. She was predeceased by her husband Jack Ward.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the UU Congregation of Asheville, 1 Edwin Place, Asheville, NC 28801; and to the Brooks-Howell Home, 266 Merrimon Ave., Asheville, NC 28801.

A memorial service will take place at 3pm on Saturday, July 22, in the chapel at the Brooks-Howell Home (address just above).

Notes of condolence can be sent to Mark Ward at 60 Elk Mt. Scenic Highway, Asheville, NC 28804.

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In memory of Robert Reed (1928-2017)

Posted By Michelle Pederson, Thursday, May 4, 2017

The UUMA Board and staff offer our condolences to the family and colleagues of the Rev. George Robert “Bob” Reed, who died on March 15, 2017 at the age of 88.

Bob was born on August 15, 1928 to parents Beulah May Reed and William Harold Reed. In 1950 he received a Bachelor of Arts in History from Lafayette College in Easton, PA; later that same year he married his beloved wife Jeanne. For several years Bob worked as a personnel manager and management engineer for the federal government in Washington, D.C, and it was during this time that he found Unitarianism at the Unitarian Church of Arlington, VA (now the UU Church of Arlington). After answering the call toward ministry, Bob studied Constructive Theology at Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago, IL, earning his Bachelor of Divinity in 1959.

Rev. Reed was ordained by the Unitarian Church of Arlington on September 27, 1959, and he ministered to the congregation for a year following his graduation from Meadville Lombard. He then answered a call to serve the Unitarian Church of Bloomington, IL (now the UU Church of Bloomington-Normal). In 1965, during his tenure at the Bloomington congregation, Rev. Reed presided at the funeral of Illinois governor, presidential candidate, and diplomat Adlai Stevenson II. Rev. Reed then accepted the call of the First Unitarian Church of Louisville, KY, where he would passionately minister for seventeen years. Finally Rev. Reed served as the Associate Minister for Pastoral Care at the North Shore UU Society on Long Island, NY (now the UU Congregation at Shelter Rock) from 1985 until his retirement in 1994, at which time the Louisville congregation named him their Minister Emeritus.

Bob dedicated much time and energy to the denomination. While attending Meadville Lombard Theological School in the late ‘50s, he served as part-time Director of Religious Education at the First Universalist Church of Chicago (now All Souls Free Religious Fellowship). For a year beginning in 1961 Rev. Reed was President the Midwest UU Ministers’ Association. He served the Central Midwest District Ministers’ Association as its Secretary from 1964 to 1966, and in 1964 he chaired its Annual Meeting. Together with his wife Jeanne, Bob conducted UUA Couples Enrichment weekend workshops for the Ohio Valley District during the period of 1978 to 1981. And from 1982 to 1983 Rev. Reed served on the board of the Unitarian Universalist Ministers’ Association and on the UUA’s Ministerial Fellowship Committee as its UUMA representative.

Outside of his parish ministry Rev. Reed participated in ample community activities, social services, and civil rights activism. In his spare time, Bob loved best of all to attend the theatre and the symphony. He was also an appreciator of the outdoors, particularly fishing and summer camping. Finally, Bob enjoyed practicing the fine art of baking bread.

When asked in 1985 to reflect upon this denomination to which he’d dedicated so much of his life and labors, Rev. Reed had this to say: “There has never been greater need for a Unitarian Universalist church. … We need each other. We need the excitement, the caring, the knowledge and skill, the questioning and confirmation, and the discipline of our communities of freedom.”

Rev. Reed is survived by his four sons Robert (Sherrille), Douglas (Lynn), Jeffrey (Nancy), David (Kathleen); seven grandchildren Patrick Simpson, Amy Reed, Trent Fried (Julie), Ian Reed, Dylan Reed, Nolan Reed, Anna Kate Reed; and two great grandchildren Shelby Fried and Lindsey Fried. He was preceded in death by his loving wife of 66 years Jeanne W. Reed in July 2016.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Meadville Lombard Theological School, the Louisville Orchestra, Lafayette College, and Family and Children’s Place.

A memorial service will take place at 10am on Saturday, May 13, 2017 at First Unitarian Church, 809 S 4th St, Louisville, KY 40203.

Notes of condolence can be sent to David Reed at and at 1844 Gresham Road, Louisville, KY 40205.

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In Memory of Gregory J. Martin (1958-2017)

Posted By Michelle Pederson, Tuesday, April 11, 2017
Updated: Monday, April 24, 2017
The UUMA Board and staff offer our condolences to the family and colleagues of the Rev. Gregory “Greg” James Martin, who died on February 12, 2017 at the age of 58.

Greg was born on April 15, 1958 to parents Jim and Eleanor. He grew up in rural Southwestern Michigan, where he began his “life-long love affair with the woods, forests, lakes, rivers, farms, towns and cities of the Great Lakes State,” as he put it. When he would later reflect upon his spiritual journey toward Unitarian Universalism, he declared that his first step came at the age of thirteen when among his mother’s books he discovered his “companion and guide for life”—Walden by Henry David Thoreau.

Raised in the United Methodist Church, Greg had sensed by his senior year of high school that he would answer a call to ministry. He attended Taylor University in Upland, IN, majoring in political science and receiving a Bachelor of Arts in 1980. Greg then spent some time interning on Capitol Hill before attending Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC, from which he received his Master of Divinity in 1984.

Rev. Martin became a Deacon of the United Methodist Church in June of 1982 and was ordained an Elder in 1987. After completing a “life changing” internship in campus ministry at Virginia Tech, Rev. Martin felt a strong calling to return to his Michigan roots. Over the next 28 years of his Methodist ministry he served a variety of congregations—from rural, to small town, to urban—and became especially noted for his work in higher education communities.

By 2010, however, Rev. Martin began to feel restless, no longer fully at home in his faith tradition. At the urging of his friend the Rev. Jay Leach, he began to pursue a call towards Unitarian Universalist ministry. In 2013 Rev. Martin joined the Unitarian Universalist Community Church of Southwest Michigan as a Consulting Minister. Finally, on August 1, 2015, Rev. Martin answered the call to serve at the Miami Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Dayton, OH. He ministered to the congregation for a year and half, serving with passion, wisdom, and joy.

Greg also had a full and active life outside of his ministry. A dedicated father who delighted in keeping his home filled with song, dance, games, and cookies, Greg came out to his family when his daughters were grown. His primary leisure activities were reading, writing poetry, weight-training, and cycling; he completed many long bike rides over the years, including a coast-to-coast ride when he was seventeen. Greg also enjoyed art and architecture, and held a lifelong interest in politics—being a strong advocate for LGBTQ rights, environmentalism, and the labor union movement. Finally, he belonged to the Henry David Thoreau Society, which challenges its members and all people to “live a deliberate, considered life.”

 Indeed, Greg once reflected that “… there seems to be no higher calling than helping people explore the mystery and wonder at the source of our existence, guiding us to be fully integrated into the life and rhythms of the planet of which we are a part.”

Rev. Martin is survived by daughters Katherine and Alexis, parents Jim and Eleanor, and former wife the Rev. Dr. Jennifer Browne.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Miami Valley UU Fellowship and the American Civil Liberties Union.

A memorial service took place on Saturday, February 18, 2017 at Miami Valley UU Fellowship, 8690 Yankee St (Washington Township), Dayton, OH 45458; a second service was held on Sunday, February 20, 2017 at Pokagon United Methodist Church, 31393 Kansas St, Dowagiac, MI 49047.

Notes of condolence can be sent to Katherine Martin-Browne at 5200 S. Ellis Ave, Apt 601, Chicago, IL 60615, or at; to Alexis Martin-Browne at 5386 Pershing Ave, Apt 508, St. Louis, MO 63112, or at; and to Jim and Eleanor Martin at 30485 Pokagon Highway, Dowagiac, MI 49047.

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In memory of Charles W. Grady (1925-2017)

Posted By Administration, Monday, February 6, 2017
The Rev. Charles Wesley Grady, who died on January 19, 2017 at the age of 91.

Charles was born in Lima, OH on December 9, 1925 to mother Wealthy Dedrick Grady and father Charles C. Grady. He began working in commercial radio broadcasting at the age of 16, a career which he would pursue continuously for two decades, except for his two years serving as a Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Army Special Services, from 1944 to 1946. Charles attended the University of Cincinnati beginning in 1946, seeking a degree in German, but left early in order to focus on his broadcasting career.

In 1947 he married his beloved wife Claudine. The two were high school sweethearts, and Charles said in 1989 that although Claudine was blind from birth she “never allowed herself to be handicapped” and was a highly significant influence on his ministry. The couple became actively engaged in helping found a Unitarian fellowship in Lima, OH in 1955, which Charles believed marked the time when he began to consciously consider becoming a minister. After years of active church membership, Charles fully committed himself “to the service of values of lasting worth,” as he put it. He applied for ministerial fellowship with the Unitarian Universalist Association in 1963 and received a Masters of Divinity from Meadville Lombard Theological School in 1966.

Rev. Grady was ordained on November 6, 1966 by White Bear Unitarian Universalist Church in Mahtomedi, MN, where he would minister until 1969. In that year Rev. Grady was called to serve at First Parish Unitarian Universalists of Arlington, MA, where he dutifully ministered for over twenty years. At the time of his retirement in 1990, the congregation honored Rev. Grady as their Minister Emeritus. Though formally retired, Rev. Grady then accepted a call at the UU Fellowship of Hendersonville, NC; he served the congregation part-time until 1996, when the congregation was able to find a full-time minister and Rev. Grady began full retirement.

Rev. Grady dedicated much time and energy to the denomination. He served on several UUA boards and committees, including the Ministerial Fellowship Committee, the Council on Church and Staff Finances, the Universalist Historical Society, and others on the district level. While ministering in Arlington, MA Rev. Grady was a board member and secretary of the James Luther Adams Foundation. For many years he worked as a Field Education Supervisor for Harvard Divinity School. Rev. Grady also co-chaired the “Carnes for UUA President” campaign of 1977, and was a member of the Greenville Study Group.


Committed to the study of history and honoring his connection to the denomination’s cultural and philosophical heritage, Rev. Grady was a biographer of noted Transcendentalist and Unitarian Minister Frederic Henry Hedge. He contributed numerous articles on Hedge to Kairos, The UU Christian, Studies in the American Renaissance, and The Proceedings of the Unitarian Universalist Historical Society. Rev. Grady also authored Arlington's First Parish: A History, 1733-1990, published 2000, which the parish gifts to new members upon joining.

In his spare time Charles loved to sail; while living in Massachusetts he cruised up and down the New England coast. He and Claudine were also enthusiastic concert and playgoers, and books and records were a fixture of their home. Charles loved especially to read history, biography, novels, poetry, and drama, as well as non-technical writers in science and philosophy. Finally, he and Claudine loved to travel, visiting many countries around the world.

Reflecting on his ministry in the time leading up to his retirement, Rev. Grady had these lovely words to say:

Our churches are clearings in the wilderness of this time: places of refuge and sanctuary for the bruised and tired, and also places of healing and renewal. They are ‘workshops for common endeavor,’ as Kenneth Patton has said, and schools for learning and enlightenment, transmitters and celebrators of a heritage, tools for breaking down barriers and building new bridges.

Rev. Grady is survived by children Stephanie Grady and Michael Grady and their spouses, sister Marjorie Walker, five grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by wife Claudine.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Minnesota Orchestra, Planned Parenthood, and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

A memorial service will take place at the UU Fellowship of Hendersonville, NC at 3:00pm on February 25, 2017; a celebration of life for family and friends is being planned in Minnesota for April, 2017; and Rev. Grady’s cremains—along with Claudine’s—will be placed in the Memorial Garden at First Parish UU of Arlington, MA in summer 2017.

Notes of condolence can be sent to Stephanie Grady at or at 8714 2nd Ave S., Bloomington, MN 55420.


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In memory of Carol I. Brody (1928-2016)

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, January 3, 2017
The Rev. Carol Irene Brody died on November 17, 2016 at the age of 88.

 Carol was born in Euclid, OH on April 20, 1928 to parents Louise and John, and grew up in Cleveland, OH. In 1950, she married Paul Brody, beginning a marriage that would last the next 65 years. Carol attended Otterbein University, and in 1975 began taking classes at Methodist Theological School in Ohio; she graduated with a Masters of Divinity in 1984.

 Her service as Director of Religious Education at the First UU Church of Columbus, OH began in 1965. Carol was a devoted teacher with a passion for liberal religious education, and she initiated the congregation’s sex education curriculum. On October 12, 1981 the congregation ordained Rev. Brody as their Minister of Religious Education. After faithfully serving her church for many years, Rev. Brody retired from the ministry in 1994, and in 1999 the congregation honored her as their Minister Emerita.

 Rev. Brody dedicated much time and energy to the denomination, and was ever a staunch supporter of civil rights and social justice. In the course of her ministry she served as the inaugural chair of the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Women and Religion Committee, as well as District Consultant to the UUA’s Ohio-Meadville District from 1985 to 1994.

 In her spare time Carol enjoyed many varied interests, including art, dance, music, poetry, and travel. She also loved to spend time each day in her hubcap garden, and to appreciate the wildlife and natural beauty surrounding her beloved home in the hills. 

 Carol is survived by children Jill (Douglas Bryant), John (Kate), Jim (Kim), and Jane (Chris Jay); grandchildren Maggie Moskal (Brandon), Sam Brody, David Bryant, Matthew Bryant, Lindsie Katz, and Jeremy Katz; and great-grandchildren Lucy and John Paul Moskal.

 In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Planned Parenthood of Central Ohio (part of Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio) and to Clintonville Beechwold Community Resources Center.

 A memorial service was held on December 3, 2016 at First Unitarian Universalist Church, 93 West Weisheimer Road, Columbus, OH 43214.

 Notes of condolence can be sent to John Brody at 1894 King Avenue, Columbus, OH 43212.


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In memory of Neil W. Gerdes (1943-2016)

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, November 23, 2016
The Rev. Dr. Neil Wayne Gerdes died on November 6, 2016 at the age of 73.

Neil was born in Moline, IL on October 19, 1943 to Della Bennett Ferguson Gerdes and John Edward Gerdes. He was a dedicated and accomplished scholar, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in History and English from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 1965 and a Bachelor of Sacred Theology from Harvard University in 1968. Neil then went on to earn a Master of Arts in Education and Religion from Columbia University in 1971, a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies from the University of Chicago in 1974, and finally attained a Doctor of Ministry from the University of St. Mary of the Lake in 1994.

Rev. Gerdes began his ministry in 1973 as a theological educator at Meadville Lombard Theological Seminary, becoming Associate Professor of Bibliography and Dean of the Wiggin Library. He was ordained a UU minister on October 26, 1975 by the First and Second Church of Boston (now First Church of Boston)—the congregation where he had served as a student intern while attending Harvard. In 1980 Rev. Gerdes expanded his educational community ministry, accepting a professorship at the Chicago Theological Seminary and serving as the school’s Library Director. From the early ‘70s onward Rev. Gerdes was a member of the First Unitarian Society of Chicago, officially becoming an Affiliated Minister of the congregation in 2002. After 40 years of service as an educator and librarian, and having been honored as a Professor Emeritus of Meadville Lombard Theological School, Rev. Gerdes retired from the ministry in 2013.

In addition to his work as a theological educator, Rev. Gerdes was an active member of the UU Ministers’ Association, and served on the board of the First Unitarian Society of Chicago. He was also an officer of the Association of Chicago Theological Schools’ Library Council. Finally, Rev. Gerdes was present for the founding of Collegium—an association for ordained and lay liberal religious scholars—and served as its secretary-treasurer for 37 years.

Neil was a lover of the fine arts, especially classical music and the theater, and greatly enjoyed travelling across the country and the world. He treasured books and learning, once saying, “For me my most meaningful and profound learning has come from the pages of books, often guided by great teachers.” And he was devoted above all to his family and friends.

Rev. Dr. Lee Barker, president of Meadville Lombard Theological school and close friend of Neil, had this to say in his own tribute to Rev. Gerdes:

Neil was Unitarian Universalism’s librarian extraordinaire, having served on the faculty of Meadville for 40 years prior to his retirement in 2013. He was a wonderful mentor to students, a lover of books and information, a passionate spokesperson for tradition and academic protocol, an erudite conversationalist, a man of very goofy humor, and a champion for liberal theological education. He gave much to our school and our students and to our movement. The school has lost one of its giants.

Neil is survived by his four sisters: Marjorie Carpenter, Reta Morrissey, Marlene Saad, and Eleanor Lohf; his 18 nieces and nephews; and his many great-nieces and great-nephews.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Meadville Lombard Theological School.

Funeral services were held on Saturday, November 12, 2016 at Erie United Methodist Church, 811 8th St, Erie, IL 61250.

A public memorial service was held on Sunday, November 20, 2016 at the First Unitarian Church of Chicago, 5650 S. Woodlawn Ave, Chicago, IL 60637.

Notes of condolence can be sent to Marjorie Carpenter, 9520 Fuller Rd, Albany, IL 61230.

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In memory of Julie Denny-Hughes (1946-2016)

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, November 15, 2016
The Rev. Julie Denny-Hughes died on October 14, 2016 at the age of 70.

Julie was born on April 4, 1946 to Helen Pentzer Denny and Morris Duane Denny, and grew up in Bedford, IN, where she developed a love of humor and music. She received a Bachelor of Arts in American Literature from the University of Illinois in 1972, where she was on the Dean’s List. For the next twenty years she worked in the computer software industry as a technical writer and trainer, often as an independent consultant.

In 1978, Julie found Unitarian Universalism at the Unitarian Church of Princeton, NJ (now the UU Congregation of Princeton), where she became an active member and led the congregation’s first “Cakes for the Queen of Heaven” course. She later moved to Stratford, CT, and began her journey to become a minister while a member of the UU Church of Greater Bridgeport—the congregation that would later ordain her. Rev. Denny-Hughes earned a Master of Divinity from Meadville Lombard Theological School in 1995, where she conceived and co-created a public interfaith service to celebrate democratic elections in South America; at graduation she was awarded the school’s faculty award for Excellence in Religious Leadership.

After interning at the UU Fellowship of Raleigh, NC, Rev. Denny-Hughes was ordained to the ministry in 1995. First called to serve the UU Community Church of Glen Allen, VA, her four-year ministry there led the congregation to more than double in size. Rev. Denny-Hughes then returned to the Raleigh congregation, ministering there from 1999 until 2004. She later answered calls to serve Countryside Church UU of Palatine, IL, and the UU Church of Halifax, NS. Rev. Denny-Hughes retired from the ministry in 2011, after which she moved to Indianapolis, where she remained active in the community as a member of All Souls UU Church.

While serving in Virginia, Rev. Denny-Hughes served on the board of the Thomas Jefferson District (now the Southern District), and authored its long-term plan. She later coauthored a Unitarian Universalist Association task force report on clergy sexual misconduct. And throughout her ministry she remained committed to the causes of equality, human rights, women’s rights, and environmental justice.

Julie carried a lifelong love for joyous laughter, Scrabble, crossword puzzles, and arts of all kinds—especially music and reading. She also held great affection for her cats and all the other comforts of home. Most of all she treasured time spent with her family and friends, and believed that you ought to tell people you love them every time you see them—in words, a hug, and a kiss.

In their obituary for Julie, children Suzannah and Phillip said of their mother: “Julie had a heart of rare proportions, and with it she embraced family, friends, and strangers-who-would-be-friends warmly and openly, with a bright smile and lilting laughter that will long be remembered.”

And in her own words, from a sermon she delivered to her Glen Allen congregation:

It’s one of the mysteries of life to me that we can give at the same time we are receiving. And that we receive so much when we give. That happens at the level of the soul, I believe. Because at that level we are all connected in such a way that giving and receiving become the same thing.  They are part of the same sacred source of connection. Times of fear and uncertainty afford us those glimpses.

Rev. Denny-Hughes is survived by her daughter Suzannah Wilson Overholt (Tony); son Phillip Earl Wilson Jr. (Suzanne); grandchildren Max Overholt, Elise Overholt, Helen Overholt, Meghan Wilson, and Melanie Wilson; brother Marc Denny (Mayme Jo) and sister Marian "Susie" Rumsey (Guy); and several nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by her parents Morris Duane "Beanie" Denny and Helen Olive Pentzer Denny, and by her brother John L. Denny.

A memorial service was held on Saturday, October 22, 2016 at the First Christian Church, 1101 15th St., Bedford, IN 47421.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Alzheimer’s Association.

Notes of condolence can be sent to Suzannah Overholt, 635 E. 84th St., Indianapolis, IN 46240.

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In memory of Harold L Hawkins (1920-2016)

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, November 9, 2016
The Rev. Harold Leighton Hawkins died on August 29, 2016 at the age of 96.

 Harold was born in Charlotte, NC on June 17, 1920 to Annie Mae Lay and Joseph Franklin Hawkins. He received a Bachelor of Science in Sociology from Wake Forest College in 1942, then attained a Bachelor of Divinity from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1945, as well as later graduating from the Clinical Pastoral Care Program at Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem, NC and the School of Alcohol Studies at Yale University.

The Rev. Hawkins was ordained a Southern Baptist minister in 1944 by the Crescent Hill Baptist Church of Louisville, KY. After serving as a Navy chaplain for fifteen months and heading a homeless outreach program for a year, he became a hospital chaplain—a vocation he followed for over 40 years. During his 15 years serving a hospital in Alexandria, LA, Rev. Hawkins first found Unitarian Universalism at the UU Fellowship of Alexandria, and in 1967 he formally joined the Unitarian Church of Baton Rouge, LA. In 1974 he moved to Tallahassee, FL to chaplain for Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare, where he would serve for 26 years. Rev. Hawkins’ interest in the denomination continued to grow, and in 1991 he decided to apply to become a UU minister, and was accepted. While a member of the UU Church of Tallahassee, he simultaneously ministered to two other Florida congregations: the UU Fellowship of Bay County in Panama City, and the UU Fellowship of the Emerald Coast in Valparaiso—the latter of which elected him their Minister Emeritus upon his retirement in 2000.

During his time with the UU Fellowship of Alexandria, he founded and led a discussion group entitled the Tuesday Night Class. This religiously diverse group, dedicated to the free sharing of ideas, met for 12 years in the home of a Jewish doctor—a close friend of Rev. Hawkins. Throughout his ministry, a continued source of inspiration for Rev. Hawkins was the concept of “freethinkers”: those who use reason to seek philosophical and religious truth outside the bounds of orthodoxy and dogma. At the UU Church of Tallahassee, Rev. Hawkins later founded a new group based the books Christianity without God by Lloyd Geering and Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism by Susan Jacoby. Called the Freethinkers Forum, this group is committed to reason and seeking the truth, and it continues to meet at the UUCT to this day. Later in life, Rev. Hawkins joined the Freedom from Religion Foundation of Madison, WI.

Rev. Hawkins devoted much of his time and energy toward helping the communities and congregations to whom he ministered, but in his spare time he enjoyed fishing, playing golf, tending his vegetable garden, and chopping wood for his stove. Later in life, it was his great joy to spend time with his beloved grandchildren—passing on lessons, telling stories, or just playing on the floor.

As his family wrote in their obituary for Harold, published in the Tallahassee Democrat:

His life began in the depths of the Great Depression when just surviving was a great challenge. His life spanned decades of great change and great social challenges. He moved from the Southern Baptist Church to the Unitarian Universalist Association but his message of adhering to Christian values, brotherly love, and equality for all were unshakable. To say he touched a few lives would be an understatement. The life story of Reverend Hawkins would make a mighty fine sermon.

Rev. Hawkins is survived by his six children: Donald R. Hawkins, Margaret Elaine Cox, James Alan Hawkins, Carolyn Blome, Harold Frederick Hawkins, and Joseph B. Hawkins; eleven grandchildren; and three great grandchildren. He was predeceased by his wife Margaret Anne Johnson.

 A celebration of life service conducted by son Joe was held on Saturday, October 1, 2016 at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tallahassee, 2810 N Meridian Rd, Tallahassee, FL 32312.

 In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to UUCT/Freethinkers Forum Fund and mailed to UUCT, 2810 N Meridian Road, Tallahassee, FL 32312.

Notes of condolence may be sent to Joe B. Hawkins at 217 Rhoden Cove Rd, Tallahassee, FL 32312.


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In memory of Spencer Lavan (1937-2016)

Posted By Administration, Monday, October 17, 2016

The Rev. Dr. Spencer Lavan died on September 29, 2016 in Brunswick, Maine at the age of 78.

Spencer was born on December 31, 1937 to Fay and Peter Lavan in New York City. He received a Bachelor of Arts in English from Tufts University in 1959, a Bachelor of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School in 1962, and two degrees from McGill University: a Master of Arts in Islamic Studies in 1965 and a Ph.D. in Comparative Religions in 1970.


Rev. Dr. Lavan’s full and varied ministry led him to serve both parishes and communities, as well as to a lifelong career in academia. He was ordained to the ministry in 1962 by the Unitarian Church in Charleston, SC, and he was called to minister there from 1962 to 1964. For two years he served as associate minister to the Unitarian Church of Montreal; at the same time, he served as Minister to Students at McGill University while also completing graduate studies there. Soon afterwards Rev. Dr. Lavan began his academic work, first serving Northeastern University for two years and then Tufts University for a decade. In 1978 he returned to active ministry, serving the First Parish in Lexington, MA as its interim minister, and later served the Maine Humanities Council as its community minister. In 1982 he organized and then chaired the Department of Humanities at the University of New England until 1988. From 1988 to 1996 Rev. Dr. Lavan served as President and Dean of Meadville Lombard Theological School. He retired from the ministry in 2000.


Rev. Dr. Lavan received three honorary degrees: from the Protestant Theological Institute of Cluj/Kolosvar, Romania, the school preparing Hungarian speaking Unitarian Ministers for pulpits in Transylvania; from Meadville Lombard Theological School; and from the University of New England. From 1984 through 1988 he was editor of the Journal of Medical Humanities and Bio-Ethics, and was later a founder of Collegium: Liberal Religious Studies.


Rev. Dr. Lavan performed extensive service on behalf of the denomination. He was a member of the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Pamphlet Commission, and later served as President of the Unitarian Universalist Historical Society and co-editor of the Dictionary of Unitarian Universalist Biography. Rev. Dr. Lavan also served on the board of Meadville Lombard Theological School, and was a member and later president of the Melcher Book Award Committee. In 2003, he was awarded the UUA's Award for Distinguished Service to the Cause of Unitarian Universalism.


Rev. Dr. Lavan authored two books based on his study of religion, including Unitarians and India: A Study in Encounter and Response, published in 1991. He had a passion for teaching; he enjoyed travelling—for work and with his family—as well as spending time at home with his students and friends; and he loved classical music, sailing in Casco Bay, and playing the piano.


Lee Barker, president of Meadville Lombard Theological School, said that in addition to Rev. Dr. Lavan’s many contributions to the institution he and his wife Susan “took a personal interest in each of their students, creating a hospitality that drew the entire Meadville Lombard community together... [The school] and all of Unitarian Universalism have lost a great leader.”


He is survived by his wife of 55 years Susan Lavan; his children Jonathan, Daniel (Deborah Berger), Timothy (Cindy), and Joanna; his grandchildren Charlie, Peter, Anna, Isaac, Lucia, and Malcolm; and his brother Lawrence.


His family plans to hold a private memorial service on a date to be determined, and Meadville Lombard Theological School is planning a public memorial service for January 2017.


In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Meadville Lombard Theological School.


Notes of condolence may be sent to Susan Lavan at 11 Cascos Way, Harpswell, ME 04079.

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