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Awards for service to church and state

UUA honors Debra Bowen, Mark Ritchie, Eric Isaacson, and the Rev. Alice Blair Wesley.
By Christopher L. Walton And Sonja L. Cohen
Fall 2009

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Alice Blair Wesley (Nancy Pierce)

The Rev. Alice Blair Wesley received the Distinguished Service Award at the 2009 General Assembly. (Nancy Pierce)

Among the people honored at the General Assem­bly were two UU secretaries of state who have championed election reforms, a lawyer who wrote legal briefs in support of same-sex marriage in California for the UUA and its interfaith partners, and a UU minister who has deepened our understanding of the importance of covenant in the UU tradition.

The UUA gave the Wilton Peace Prize to California Secretary of State Debra Bowen and Minnesota Secre­tary of State Mark Ritchie, who each took office in 2006 and have been active in promoting clean elections policies in their states. Bowen is a member of the UU Community Church of Santa Monica; Ritchie is a member of First Universalist Church of Min­neapolis. (See uuworld.org’s June 22 interview with Bowen and Ritchie.)

UUA President William G. Sinkford gave the President’s Award for Volunteer Service to San Diego lawyer Eric Isaacson, who for five years has provided pro bono legal services to the UUA and its allies in California court cases related to same-sex marriage. In the case that led to the California Sup­reme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage in 2008, Isaacson filed an amicus curiae brief on behalf of the Unit­arian Univer­salist Legis­lative Ministry and other religious groups in support of marriage equality. Following the passage of Proposition 8, which overturned same-sex marriage, Isaacson filed another amicus brief on behalf of Unitarian Universalists and their allies. Isaacson is a member of First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Diego.

The Rev. Burton Carley, UUA trustee from the Southwest District, presented the Rev. Alice Blair Wesley with the UUA’s 2009 Award for Distinguished Service to the Cause of Unitarian Universalism. Wesley, a UU parish minister from 1978 to 1995, has written extensively on how covenantal theology remains at the heart of Unitarian Universalism. (See her essay in UU World, Summer 2008.)

Reading from the citation, Carley said, “Alice is fiercely loyal to the free church and the congregational way. She constantly invites us to right relationship with one another through covenant.”

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