Giving Tuesday #BecauseofUU


In the United States, we have one day for giving thanks, two days for getting deals; now, globally, we have a day for giving back: #GivingTuesday.

On Tuesday, December 1st, families, students, community centers, businesses, and charities around the world come together for the common purpose of celebrating generosity, and to give.

Please join the Unitarian Universalist Association in this celebration of giving by sharing posts of generosity. You might share a description, image, or video on social media of what you are doing to celebrate Giving Tuesday, or, tell us why you give, with the hashtags #GivingTuesday and #becauseofUU.

Whether you can give $7, $70, or $700, your gift between now and midnight tomorrow makes a difference and will go even further by helping us to earn a special #GivingTuesday match. Frank Basile, president of All Souls Unitarian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana, encourages all of us to give to the UUA in honor of our seven principles. Frank has offered a generous matching gift if at least 77 people contribute to the UUA for #GivingTuesday.

Need a few ideas? How about exploring the work of the Coalition of International Organizations for inspiration! Here are a few sample tweets of UU values in action, globally:

As you consider which organizations to support on Giving Tuesday, please consider making a contribution towards international Unitarian Universalism!

#ReleaseRevFulgence: Minister of Unitarian Church in Burundi Released

Rev. Fulgence Ndagijimana

UPDATE 11/27 From the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists: Rev. Fulgence Ndagijimana is Free and Safe!

We are delighted to report that the Rev. Fulgence Ndagijimana is no longer in police custody in Burundi and he has travelled to another country.

Let us be thankful to God and to our sisters and brothers for this blessing. So many of us working together has made a difference. We give Fulgence a chance to catch his breath and know we will hear from him soon. He is grateful to everyone who supported him by signing the petition, writing letters and making donations to assist his release.

Let us be restrained and not overly triumphant in our response to this wonderful news, particularly in postings on social media. The charges against Fulgence remain under investigation and we need to remember the congregation of Unitarians remaining in Burundi.

Sensitivity to the impact our comments might have on them is important. We still need to stand on the side of love for those of our faith and for all the people in Burundi. There is much more to do and say.

ICUU has formed a working group to focus on these concerns in partnership with Burundi Unitarians, the UUA, the CUC and others. You will hear more from us.



Tell Congress: Don’t Discriminate Against Muslim Refugees

A family sits outside their tent at the refugee camp in Atmeh (Qatma), Syria. They fled violence in their home town in Idlib province and are part of the mammoth humanitarian disaster facing Syria and surrounding countries today.
A family sits outside their tent at the refugee camp in Atmeh (Qatma), Syria. They fled violence in their home town in Idlib province and are part of the mammoth humanitarian disaster facing Syria and surrounding countries today. Image courtesy UUSC.

As people across the United States are donating to help Syrian refugees abroad and volunteering to welcome refugees in their communities, a number of Governors recently announced that they want to stop their states from resettling Syrian refugees.

This is morally reprehensible.

Some Members of Congress have even introduced the Refugee Resettlement Oversight and Security Act (H.R. 3573), legislation that would stop refugee resettlement altogether. It is critical that public officials hear from their constituents NOW as decisions are being made that will drastically impact the lives of Syrian refugees and refugee resettlement in the United States.

Take Action Today

  • Send a message to your congressional representative through the UUSC
  • Call your Representative and Senators : 1-866-961-4293
  • If you live in one of the following states, call your Governor!
    • Alabama: (334) 242-7100
    • Arizona: (520) 628-6580 / (602) 542-4331
    • Arkansas: (501) 682-2345
    • Florida: (850) 488-7146
    • Georgia: (404) 656-1776
    • Idaho: (208) 334-2100
    • Illinois: (217) 782-0244 / (312) 814-2121
    • Indiana: (317) 569-0709
    • Iowa: (515) 281-5211
    • Kansas: (785) 296-3232
    • Louisiana: (225) 342-7015
    • Maine: (207) 287-3531 / 1-855-721-5203
    • Massachusetts: (617) 725-4005 / (413) 784-1200 / (202) 624-7713
    • Michigan: (517) 373-3400
    • New Hampshire: (603) 271-2121
    • New Jersey: (609) 292-6000
    • North Carolina: (919) 814-2000
    • Ohio: (614) 466-3555
    • Oklahoma: (405) 521-2342
    • South Carolina: (803) 734-2100
    • Texas: 800-843-5789 / (512) 463-1782
    • Wisconsin: (608) 266-1212

When you call, tell the receptionist that as a constituent, you want to help WELCOME Syrian refugees and that you’re against the calls of some governors to reject Syrian refugees.

Ex: “I’m a constituent from [City] and I support the resettlement of Syrian refugees. I urge the Senator / Representative / Governor to represent me and other constituents who seek to welcome Syrian refugees.”

Here are some helpful points that you may want to mention, but the most important point is your story and why your community wants to welcome Syrian refugees!

  • The U.S. government handpicks the refugees who resettle here, and refugees are the most thoroughly vetted people to come to the United States.
  • All refugees resettled in the United States undergo rigorous security screenings by the Department of Homeland Security, FBI, Department of Defense and multiple intelligence agencies, including biometric checks, forensic testing, medical screenings and in-person interviews.
  • This is not an either/or situation. The United States can continue to welcome refugees while also continuing to ensure national security. We must do both.

You can also tweet your Members of Congress and your network:

“.@REPRESENTATIVE, Our community is ready to welcome #Syrian #refugees. #RefugeesWelcome #AmericaWelcomes!”

Uniting to end violence and discrimination against LGBTQI people around the world

By Justin Hashimoto
UU-United Nations Office LGBTQ Human Rights Program Intern


“My only sin against God is not accepting the person he made me to be for so long”

Garth Zimmerman, a retired teacher from Appleton, Wisconsin, shares his moving account of “coming out at fifty” in the third anthology of Kevin Jennings illuminating book “One Teacher in Ten in the New Millennium,” published by Beacon Press.

Mr. Jennings, founder of the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), compiled a series of essays shared by LGBTQI educators from across the United States and around the world. The contributors to this anthology speak on their unique experiences as LGBTQI educators, the progress that’s been made, and the challenges that remain.

We recently had the opportunity to interview Mr. Jennings on the development of this book: (more…)

At the Parliament of the World’s Religions 2015

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Nearly 10,000 people from 50 faith traditions and 80 countries convened last week for the world’s largest interfaith gathering, the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Salt Lake City, Utah, to commune in harmony and to grapple with and explore solutions to global issues like climate change, war, the widening wealth gap, etc.

Founded in 1893, the first World’s Parliament of Religions, as it was then known, spanned 17 days and was held in Chicago. No event of its kind, bringing together thousands of representatives of the great historic religions of the world, had ever been attempted up to that point. Read more about Unitarian involvement in the first Parliament on this informative Tapestry of Faith leader resource sheet.

Rev. Eric Cherry, Director of the Unitarian Universalist Association’s International Office, was one of the UUA staffers at this year’s first US-based Parliament since 1993, connecting with hundreds of attending UUs and interfaith partners.

It was an amazing gathering that included presentations from a long list of powerful global leaders:

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Unitarian Universalists were deeply engaged in the event and present in large numbers – perhaps as many as 500 in attendance! – and were heavily involved in more than 15 workshops and presentations during the Parliament.

The Rev. Patty Willis of South Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Cottonwood Heights, Utah, wrote and performed a special hymn for the gathering and led the crowd in song. (Salt Lake Tribune – 10.16.15)

“There are people of deep faith here,” said Christine Ashworth, an attendee who represented the First Unitarian Church of Salt Lake City and a volunteer who helped at the convention.


“How can you not be inspired by the idea of all faiths getting together to be a solution?” (International Business Times – 10.15.15)

Exploring Faith

At the Unitarian Universalist exhibit booth we invited visitors to participate in a video project exploring three questions:

  1. Who are you?
  2. What is your religious tradition?
  3. Is there another religious tradition, beyond your own, that impacts your religious or spiritual life?

Here’s what they said!

Armed group attacks Burundi Unitarian Church

The International Council of Unitarians and Universalists shared very disturbing news from the Unitarian Church in Bujumbura, Burundi earlier today.  Please see the message from their minister, Rev. Fulgence Ndagijimana below.  Rev. Fulgence has said that financial support is not needed at this time.  If that changes, or other tangible ways to provide support become evident, we will share that as well.

This morning at 2h30, a heavily armed group (approximately 10 people) attacked the Unitarian church of Bujumbura. It is not yet determined whether it is an attack on our faith or a robbery; 2 grenades were detonated in our garden and many bullets were shot in different directions.

To get inside the property, they climbed the gate as the rest of the wall is covered with wires. Our neighbors were as frightened as well as the 2 young men who were on the premises at the time. Luckily, no life was lost.

In terms of property, one of the offices was savaged, papers were scattered including check books and a sizeable amount of money was stolen. The minister’s office received one bullet without much damage.

This morning I filed a report to the local police and an investigation will be started. It is good to have some expectations from those investigations but not too high.

It looks like, according to the first elements we are gathering, it is mostly a robbery, and the office that was broken into was the accountant’s office. Other doors were shot at but not as bad.

Nepo and Jean who live who live at the church are shaken up by these events.

We are glad no one was injured but we realize once more that we live in a violent world. It doesn’t matter whether you are asleep at 2h30, a bullet can get you there!

With thanks for your prayers and loving kindness.

Rev. Fulgence Ndagijamana, Minister

Unitarian Church of Burundi
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Global Drug Policy – Is a War on Drugs What We Need?

In April 2016 there will be a UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on global drug policy; the first such conference in 18 years.  This has been promoted by many Latin American countries and other supporting nations that are dissatisfied with the militarized and punitive policies on drugs.  Leading the effort is Portugal which has effectively decriminalized drug use, opting for treatment options over criminal justice to deal with issues relating to drugs.  Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference (SDPC) plans to hold side-events during this UNGASS and the UU-UNO hopes to be involved as well.  The Special Session will take place around the same time as the UU-UNO’s annual Intergenerational Spring Seminar which this year will focus on economic inequality and Black Lives Matter, and we hope to include SDPC leaders at the seminar.

Samuel DeWitt Proctor ConferenceIn anticipation of the April 2016 UNGASS, I represented the UUA at a meeting of the SDPC at the Open Society offices from October 6-7, 2015 in Washington, D.C. which dealt with state, national, and global drug policies.  The last global drug policies were established at the UNGASS conference in 1998, which called for a “drug free world.”  However, drugs have always been part of society and always will be. Furthermore, the militarized, criminalized, and punishment-oriented “War on Drugs” hasn’t worked. (more…)

UU-UNO LGBTQI Asylum Seekers and Refugees Event: Where Do We Go Now?

On October 20th, between 12-2pm, Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office, LGBT-FAN, and Housing Works, Inc. are hosting an LGBTQI Asylum Seeker & Refugee Event at the United Nations Church Center.

UU-UNO & other participants at a 2014 LGBT Asylum event.
UU-UNO & other participants at a 2014 LGBT Asylum event.

The world’s nations are currently evolving in social polarity; where global cultures and governments are becoming either socially liberal or socially conservative. Approximately 80 nations criminalize same-­sex relations and seven apply the death penalty for homosexual acts. LGBTQI persons in socially conservative areas must flee and seek asylum in order to evade imprisionment or death just for who they are and whom they love. These human rights violations propel thousands to flee their countries. Asylum, refuge, and resettlement procedures for LGBT individuals can endanger their well­being, even after they flee. Learn more about UNHCR’s response to the issues LGBTQI asylum seekers and refugees face around the world.

LGBT asylum seekers face a specific set of barriers at each stage of the process because of the nature of asylum such as barriers to housing, transportation, and legal services amongst others. This event’s objective is to raise awareness about the atrocities LGBTQI asylum seekers and refugees confront by discussing the stories behind LGBTQI asylum and the discrimination of LGBTQI persons in refugee camps.

The UU-­UNO has joined forces with Housing Works, Inc., LGBT asylees, and the LGBT Freedom and Asylum Network (LGBT­-FAN) to increase awareness and spur engagement around LGBT Asylum across NGO and religious spaces in NYC. LGBT-FAN is a community of asylum seekers, asylees, LGBTQI activists, experts, faith-based leaders, refugee resettlement workers, and etc. They are dedicated to help LGBTQI asylum seekers and refugees who need assistance fleeing their countries and navigating the United States’ immigration system. As a result of the unique nature of our individual organizations, the partnership is able to utilize our combined expertise of first hand experience, human rights advocacy, direct service provision, and policy to present a comprehensive event on LGBT Asylum. Check out the LGBT-FAN website to find out more information about what they do. Learn more here about what the UU-UNO is doing to support LGBTQI asylum seekers and refugees.

Join us:

12-2 PM, 20 October 2015

UN Church Center, 2nd floor

777 UN Plaza, NYC

Please email your RSVP, questions, or concerns to with ATTN: LGBT Asylum Event (Oct 20). The event will be open to the public, so please spread the word to your family, friends, colleagues, and LGBTQI asylum seekers & refugees you know!

To support our continued access to the highest levels of the United Nations and to the Canadian and American governments, please donate generously to the UU-UNO.

Parliament of the World’s Religions 2015

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The Parliament of the World’s Religions was created to cultivate harmony among the world’s religious and spiritual communities and foster their engagement with the world and its guiding institutions in order to achieve a just, peaceful and sustainable world.

To accomplish this, individuals and communities who are equally invested in attaining this goal are invited and welcomed. Over 10,000 people from all walks of life and faiths will gather in spirited community in Salt Lake City from October 15-19, 2015.

This year, the Unitarian Universalist Association will be represented by a number of people including Rev. Eric Cherry of the International Office.  Eric will be participating in several workshops and present at the UUA’s booth in the exhibit hall#567. Stop by and say hello! (here’s a quick map)

If you’ll be attending this year’s Parliament, please consider yourself warmly welcomed to an informal, BYOB (bring your own bagged lunch) UU lunch gathering on Saturday October 17th from 12pm-2pm in Ballroom G: RSVP here!


Remembering Dr. Albert Schweitzer

schweitzermemeOn September 4, 1965, the world lost an incredible polymath: Humanitarian, theologian, philosopher, organist, musicologist, physician, and scholar, Dr. Albert Schweitzer.

A lifelong Lutheran, Schweitzer challenged both the secular and traditional Christian views of Jesus, observing in his historiographical research of depictions of Jesus dating back to the late 18th century—1906’s Geschichte der Leben-Jesu-Forschung (eventually translated and published in English as The Quest of the Historical Jesus in 1910)—that the image and understanding of “the historical Jesus” evolved with the times and outlooks of the various authors who wrote about him, ultimately concluding that the life of Jesus must be interpreted in the light of Jesus’ own convictions.

It was his ethical interpretation of Christianity that led him on a search for a universal concept of ethics. While on a boat trip through French Equatorial Guinea (now Gabon) in the early 1900’s, the phrase “Ehrfurcht vor dem Leben” (in English, Reverence for Life) came to him in an epiphany, forming the basis for his ethical philosophy of the same name, which he developed and put into practice through written word and humanitarian action for the rest of his life.

A letter from Dr. Schweitzer adorns the walls of the offices of the Church of the Larger Fellowship. Click here for a transcription & translation.

In 1923’s Civilization and Ethics he concluded that ethics was synonymous with reverence for life: “Reverence for Life affords me my fundamental principle of morality, namely, that good consists in maintaining, assisting and enhancing life, and to destroy, to harm or to hinder life is evil.”

A bust of Dr. Schweitzer at UUA Headquarters.
In 1952 he received the Nobel Peace Prize for his Reverence for Life philosophy, expressed most famously in his founding and sustaining of the Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Lambaréné, French Equatorial Guinea, where philosophy was put into healing practice. It was his hope that Reverence for Life would catch on worldwide; it is no coincidence that Rachael Carson’s Silent Spring (1962), widely credited as sparking the environmental movement, is dedicated to him. In fact, innumerable ethical & charitable organizations formed since the ’50s align with and revere his core philosophy.

Between his theological seeking, reverence for life, and humanitarian work in Lambaréné, Unitarians were among the first Americans to respond to his simpatico philosophy. In 1947, Dr. Charles Joy, an administrator of relief programs, and Melvin Arnold, the editor in chief of Beacon Press, donated $4,000 to Schweitzer’s hospital in Lambaréné. Numerous articles on Schweitzer were published in The Christian Register applauding his numerous contributions to world community.

In 1962, Schweitzer graciously accepted honorary membership into the Church of the Larger Fellowship:

From The Unitarian Register and the Universalist Leader, February 1962:

Dr. Albert Schweitzer Accepts Membership in UUA’s Church of the Larger Fellowship


Dr. Albert Schweitzer, noted for his work as a physician in Lambaréné, French Equatorial Africa, and as winner of the 1952 Nobel Peace Prize, has become a life member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Larger Fellowship. A certificate of life membership in the CLF has been sent to him.


Dr. Schweitzer accepted an invitation extended to him by the Rev. George N. Marshall, CLF minister, “to receive our materials and become an honored member,” issued “because of your broad sympathy and understanding of the liberal religious position.”


Dr. Schweitzer replied: “I thank you cordially for your offer….I accept with pleasure. Even as a student I worked on the problem and history of the Unitarian Church and developed sympathy for your affirmation of Christian freedom at a time when it resulted in persecution. Gradually I established closer contact with Unitarian communities and became familiar with their faith-in-action. Therefore I thank you that through you I have been made an honored member of this church.”


Time magazine, reporting Dr. Schweitzer’s acceptance, said: “By the time he became a Lutheran preacher at 24, Albert Schweitzer had already begun to question orthodox Christian doctrine and to hedge on the divinity of Christ….Was Schweitzer renouncing Lutheranism? His own eclectic exegesis: ‘For a long time now I have had connections with the Unitarian Church. Yet there is no question of my breaking with the Lutheran Church. I am a Protestant, but above all I am a scientist, and as such I can be on good terms with all of the Protestant churches.’ As for the matter of the Trinity, which Lutherans affirm and Unitarians deny, Schweitzer wondered rhetorically: ‘Did Christ or Saint Paul believe in it?'”

On occasion, our admiration of “le Grand Docteur” has led us to claim Dr. Schweitzer as one of our own.

In honor of his 90th birthday, the January 1965 issue of “The Unitarian Universalist Register-Leader” commemorates Schweitzer’s incredible legend, reality, and humanity through a series of pieces written by several that had the privilege of knowing him. Then-UUA President Rev. Dana McLean Greeley astutely notes in the issue’s editorial column:

“We who are religious liberals are honored that Albert Schweitzer on several occasions has chosen to associate himself with us. We have tried to repay that honor in part by interpreting his life and work. We must not exploit Schweitzer’s association with liberal religion, for we know that he is above partisan labels. …Because of the power of his example, our own lives are richer and he makes us want to devote an ever-greater portion of our lives to service.”

We invite you to dig into the full issue of “Albert Schweitzer – an Evaluation at Ninety” in remembrance of an extraordinary life whose philosophy and accomplishments continue to reverberate and resonate today.

Shared here with permission, you’ll find reflections from Rev. Homer A. Jack, Robert M. Goldwyn, Jack Mendelsohn, Charles R. Joy, and George N. Marshall.

Click the image to view this issue of “The Leader”


The Albert Schweitzer Visiting Ministries program seeks to connect Unitarian Universalist Association ministers with Deutsche Unitarier Religiongemeinschaft (DU) congregations in Germany.

Ministers in Final Fellowship with the UUA and in good standing with the UU Ministers Association, with considerable fluency in German and an interest in providing short-term professional services to DU congregations in Germany are invited to explore this opportunity.

Did You Know

In recognition of UU Church of the Philippines’ founder Toribio Quimada’s outstanding service to liberal religion and the people of the Philippines, the International Association for Religious Freedom (IARF) presented Quimada with the Albert Schweitzer Award for Distinguished Service in 1984.