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Congregational news roundup

Jordan School alumni, junior philanthropists, church anniversaries, and more.
By Jane Greer
Winter 2009 11.1.09

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Jordan School alumni meet

Members of the Williamsburg, Va., Unitarian Universalists and the Unitarian Church of Norfolk, Va., participated in a reunion in September for former students and the descendants of former students of the Jordan School. An African American Universalist minister, the Rev. Joseph Fletcher Jordan, founded the school in 1885 for black students. The school operated for almost 100 years in Suffolk, Va., before closing in 1984. Jordan’s great-great-grandchildren organized the reunion, which focused on the school’s Universalist heritage. UU presenters at the re­union included the Rev. Dr. Mark Morrison-Reed, the Rev. Dr. Richard Gilbert, Leon Spencer, and Willard Frank. Members of the Williamsburg congregation helped to take oral histories and the Norfolk UUs hosted the weekend’s closing event.


Child philanthropists

Children at the UU Church of Reading, Mass., are investing $10,000 in area organizations with values aligned with Unitarian Universalism. The Helping Hands Outreach Fund, which was established last year by an anonymous donor, allows the children to research and select the different organizations. Older youths help educate the younger ones about the values of each organization and then the group as a whole votes on the one they would like to support. The winning organization gets $7,600 and the four runners-up each get $600. The Fund is now in its second year of operation.


Dignity of the mentally ill

Dignity Players, a theater group supported by the Unitarian Universalist Church of Annapolis, Md., is producing a new show this fall about the ethics of treating the mentally ill. Called Blue/Orange, the play tells the story of two psychiatrists arguing over the treatment of a schizophrenic man. One of the doctors advocates for observation and a quick release while the other argues for committing the patient. The play is scheduled to run in October. Dignity Players was founded to promote Unitarian Universalism’s First Principle affirming “the inherent worth and dignity of every person.”


Humanitarian sentenced

Walt Staton, a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tucson, Ariz., was sentenced to one year of unsupervised probation for “littering” after leaving out water jugs for illegal immigrants crossing through the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge. Staton, 27, was working with the nonprofit group No More Deaths, a ministry of the Tucson church, which provides hu­manitarian aid to illegal immigrants attempting to cross the desert. Staton must also complete 300 hours of trash removal on public lands and is banned from the refuge during his probation. (See UU World's earlier coverage, 6.15.09.)


Anniversaries

Members of the Olmsted Unitarian Universalist Congregation in North Olmsted, Ohio, are celebrating their congregation’s 175th anniversary this year with a series of events including a service of rededication, historic Unitarian and Universalist worship services, a harvest festival, and a service honoring the congregation’s participation in the Underground Railroad.

First Universalist Church in Minneapolis, Minn., is celebrating its 150th anniversary with a worship service on October 25, 2009. Later that day, the congregation will ordain and install the Rev. Justin Schroeder as senior minister.

The Unitarian Universalist Church in Eugene, Ore., marked its centennial with a special celebration on Sep­tember 20, 2009. UUA President Pe­ter Morales preached at the service.

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