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Church sues over zoning

Brief congregational news items from the Summer 2010 issue.
By Jane Greer
Summer 2010 5.15.10

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Members of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Min­netonka in Wayzata, Minn., have initiated a lawsuit against the city of Wayzata over a zoning ordinance blocking them from building in a residential district. The congregation has outgrown its current building and cannot find additional space in the area zoned for institutions, including churches. A member of the church donated land in a residential area and the church would like to build there. Alison Albrecht, congregation president, told the Star Tribune (4/3/10), “No church could come into Wayzata with the zoning ordinances the way they are. Most communities allow churches in residential zones. We feel they are violating state and federal laws in regard to the zoning ordinance.” A law firm is representing the congregation pro bono.

Going solar

The Northwest Unitarian Univer­salist Congregation of Atlanta had 20 solar panels installed by Soenso Energy at the end of January, initiating a campaign to “go off the grid” through the use of solar power and energy conservation. The congregation hopes to eventually install 108 solar panels according to a press release from the congregation’s Earth Ministry.

On March 28, the Unitarian Uni­versalist Church of Fresno in Clovis, Calif., held a dedication ceremony marking the completion of its solar installation, comprised of panels on the church roof and grounds. The congregation entered into a power purchase arrangement with Solar­City, which owns and maintains the panels. The Rev. Bryan Jessup told UU World that the congregation will be getting 90 percent of its power needs through this arrangement. The Fresno church, which was completed in 2007, has been designated as a Green Sanctuary by the UU Ministry for Earth, meaning that the congregation has made a commitment to living in an environmentally sustainable manner. The building is also leed certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), meaning that it has met a standard created by the U.S. Green Bulding Council

Alternative Easter celebration

Children from the Boulder Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Lafayette, Colo., collected canned goods instead of plastic eggs at their congregation’s second annual Easter Soup Hunt on April 4. The canned goods were donated by congregants and were taken to the Boulder County aids Project. “We wanted to have a fun activity for the kids, but with added meaning,” said committee co-chair Linda Spencer.

The Boulder Valley Church also offered a UU alternative to the Roman Catholic Stations of the Cross at their Easter morning service, called the Stations of the Chalice. The Catholic Stations of the Cross are a series of images or sculptures marking Jesus’s final hours, ending in his crucifixion. In the Catholic version, the first station is “Jesus is condemned to death.” In the UU version, created by the Rev. Lydia Ferrante-Roseberry, Katie Covey, and Marcia Pasquer, the first station is “Like Jesus, UUs are heretics who believe in radical freedom, tolerance, and inclusivity.” Each UU station was marked by hymns and readings.

Anniversaries

The First Unitarian Church (Second Parish) in Worcester, Mass., celebrated its 225th anniversary on Sunday, March 21, with a special church service followed by a lunch and a cake with 225 candles.

The Unitarian Universalist Area Church at First Parish in Sherborn, Mass., marked its 325th anniversary, also on March 21, with a service incorporating skits and a sermon about the congregation’s history.


Contact world@uua.org or call (617) 948-4693 with news about your congregation. See Unitarian Universalists in the Media for weekly updates on coverage of UU congregations in other publications.

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