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In Loving Memory of Joan Kahn-Schneider (1930 – 2017)

Posted By Administration, 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


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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

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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, 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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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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