Monday, April 14, 2014

Occupy Religion

Lara Hoke and Patrick Wilson. Photo by Maurice Morales.
As I've mentioned before, I've been taking a course at the Andover Newton Theological School this semester called “Occupy History: Leadership for Social, Economic, and Religious Transformation” (taught by Prof. MT Davila). It's been an excellent and thought provoking course.

It's very hard to summarize all I've experienced and learned in my personal experiences with the Occupy movement, and I can't begin to summarize all I've learned in the course so far, either!

But on April 6, I shared some of my thoughts in sermon form. You can read the sermon at this link, or you can listen to the sermon at this link.

The picture to the left is from the April 4 event at Dewey Square, mentioned in my sermon. At 7:05 ET, I had the honor of leading a moment of silence, remembering the moment of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s death 46 years ago. (The clock you see here is on South Station, across the way from Dewey Square.) Other speakers at the event were Catherine Hoffman, a local peace activist and nonviolence trainer; Eli Gerzon of the Better Future Project; and a keynote by Chuck Turner.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

UUCiA Celebrates 20 Years as an LGBTQ "Welcoming Congregation"

Addendum: Pulpit/altar on March 30, 2014.
The Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Andover will celebrate 20 years as an LGBTQ “Welcoming Congregation” at our worship service this Sunday, March 30, at 10:30 a.m. The “Welcoming Congregation Program” is an initiative launched by the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) in 1990 in order to help congregations who want to be intentionally welcoming and inclusive of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer persons.

In 1994, twenty years ago, the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Andover was among the very early congregations to be certified as “Welcoming” by the UUA. According to the UUA’s website (, “Today, 66% of U.S. Unitarian Universalist (UU) congregations… are recognized as Welcoming Congregations”.

People forget how different things were twenty years ago.  By coincidence, I came out as lesbian twenty years ago myself as a student in divinity school.  The climate was very different then, even here in Massachusetts. In those times, a very small minority of congregations really understood the issues involved.  I am the first openly LGBTQ minister to serve the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Andover, though the congregation has had openly LGBTQ members for all of these twenty years.

This Sunday’s special Welcoming Congregation worship service will be primarily organized and led by the congregation’s lay led Worship Committee, in particular by Andover resident Nancy Mulvey, who is also the congregation’s representative in the LGBTQ Welcoming Communities of Faith working group (more commonly called “Welcoming Faiths”). Welcoming Faiths is a “coalition of LGBTQ welcoming congregations of faith promoting equality and inclusivity within our greater communities based in the Merrimack Valley of Massachusetts” (  In addition to the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Andover, other Andover congregations who are members of Welcoming Faiths include Ballard Vale United Church of Andover, Christ Church (Episcopal) Andover, Havurat Shalom, South Church in Andover, and West Parish Church of Andover (in addition to other congregations in the Merrimack Valley).

As part of the twenty year celebration, we will show “Through Gay Eyes”, an excellent locally made documentary, on Friday, March 28, at 7 p.m.  Deb Fowler, one of the two makers of the documentary, will be present at the screening and for Q&A afterwards. See details at this link.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Free Movie Night: "Through Gay Eyes", followed by Q&A with filmmaker

We are excited to announce that for the next (free) Movie Night at the UU Congregation in Andover, Friday, March 28, we will show “Through Gay Eyes”, an excellent locally made documentary. Deb Fowler, one of the two makers of the documentary, will be here for the screening and for Q&A afterwards!

From the film’s website: “ ‘Through Gay Eyes’ is a film project that gives a voice —a veritable revelation — to the embedded furtive lifestyle of gays. This documentary film will encompass personal stories that tap every realm of life and social context. ‘Through Gay Eyes’ extends beyond ‘coming out’ stories and delivers a profound realization that there still exists a silent and stifling vein in our society. Gay partners, parents and individuals tell their stories and rip the veil – emblazoning a promise toward our perpetual path of the Civil Rights Movement. ‘Through Gay Eyes’ wrestles with poignant and consuming questions that affect every member of society — bringing forth the invisible into a tangible piece of reality.”

Filmmaker Deb Fowler has been teaching English Language Learners at Lowell High School since 2005. In 2010, Deb was introduced to Connor Crosby (a junior at the time) and to the power of filmmaking. Together, Deb and Connor collaborated on “Through Gay Eyes”.

The timing of this particular screening coincides with the UUCiA’s 20th anniversary celebration of becoming a LGBTQ “Welcoming Congregation”, which will include a special worship service on Sunday, March 30.

As always, UUCiA Movie Night is free and open to the public. We provide the popcorn! To be more comfortable, please feel free to bring your own lawn chair or other portable chair. Please join us! Directions at this link.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Jazz at the UUCiA: "Day For Night" on March 22

Celebrate Spring with an Evening of Jazz

Let's shake off the winter with some with wonderful music, good company and light refreshments in our warm and intimate hall. Our own Patty Brayden and John Finbury, along with the rest of the band DAY FOR NIGHT, return to 6 Locke Street for one of our favorite annual events.

When: Saturday, March 22.  Doors open at 7pm. Music  7:30pm - 9:30pm
Where: 6 Locke Street, Andover MA  (Directions)
How much: Free admission. $10 donation suggested to benefit the UUCiA.
Need more information? Email us at or call 978-475-4454

Monday, March 17, 2014

"Standing on the Side of Love" at the St. Patrick's Peace Parade

In all my peace parade glory!
The past two years, I've written a blog post summarizing my experience of the St. Patrick's Peace Parade. This year, much of what I had to say appeared in a blog post about the St. Patrick's Peace Parade that I wrote for the Standing on the Side of Love website (particularly focused on Unitarian Universalist participation).

The whole parade was great fun this year. Though we didn't get much coverage in the mainstream media, I like to think that the "peace parade" is part of the tide turning in Boston -- the story behind the story. I also like to think that if Howard Zinn were still alive, he'd write it up!

Some personal highlights for me (beyond the blog post linked above) included the participation of my own congregation, the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Andover. Two photos of our contingent are just below, jumbo size!

Addendum: The local paper, the Andover Townsman, wrote this article about our participation.

The First Church Somerville UCC's minister on tambourine!
Another highlight of the "Religious Division" of the parade was the First Church Somerville UCC band! It's the first time a congregation showed up at the peace parade with its own marching band. It made the whole experience so much more fun! I told them that though were was no competition, they "won" the parade (at least the Religious Division part)!

It was a pleasure to be a part of the parade this year. I particularly enjoyed being one of the many volunteer organizers, working with other members of Veterans For Peace and lots of great organizations from the LGBTQ community; read their letter of solidarity.

The peace community was wonderful too.  Massachusetts Peace Action once again did much of the organizing for the parade and really helped it to be a success. Leaders from the Agape Community (also part of the Religious Contingent) wrote a wonderful letter of support that has many signatures from the peace community and the faith-based community... The signatures are still coming! (This happened shortly before the parade, so the signatures came in fast!) The Agape Community and others from the Catholic peace movement (including Pax Christi and the Catholic Workers)
remind us of the words of St. Patrick himself: "Killing cannot be with Christ", as well as the words of Pope Paul VI: "War no more! War never again!"

The mainstream media had a near "blackout" on covering the St. Patrick's Peace Parade. There were a few great editorials about the situation, including this piece in the Boston Herald by Margery Eagan.  There was also some press coverage about the peace parade grand marshals, Carlos and Melida Arredondo, heroes from the Boston Marathon bombings. Happily, today, there was a bit of coverage in the Boston Globe about yesterday's peace parade in this article by Jeremy C. Fox.

Things keep looking up, though. It was exciting this year that some sponsors of the Allied War Veterans Council's St. Patrick's Day Parade (the one that excludes the LGBTQ community from marching openly, as well as excluding Veterans For Peace) decided to pull out, including beer companies! For beer companies to pull out of supporting what has become a popular drinking occasion is a powerful statement.

Let's hope that soon, there will be one, unified, inclusive parade! Boston deserves nothing less.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

The "second parade" -- march on the Side of Love in South Boston!

The UUCiA group lining up for the 2013 St Pat's Peace Parade
If you have been attempting to decipher the news of negotiations with organizers of the traditional St. Patrick’s Day Parade in South Boston – the one that excludes LGBTQ folks as well as Veterans For Peace (for associating the word "veteran" with the word "peace" – true story!), and  are asking, "To march, or not to march? That is the question?"


The St. Patrick’s Peace Parade – the “second parade” –

is HAPPENING, following the traditional parade.

This parade, the second one, welcomes the queer community with enthusiasm and open arms, not contempt and conditions.

This parade, the second one, includes veterans who dare to speak out for peace.

In addition to Veterans For Peace and lots of LGBTQ groups, there will be many wonderful people and worthy organizations witnessing for environmental, social, and economic justice and peace.

Bring your banner, signs, songs!

Come Stand on the Side of Love!  

Let's fill the streets of Southie with a different kind of shock and awe!  

With love,

Kim (Crawford Harvie) and Lara (Hoke)

For more information and to RVSP (for the "Religious Division"), please contact Rev. Lara Hoke (Andover) at or call her at 508-615-1686.

For more information about the "Religious Division", go to this link.

For more information about the St. Patrick's Peace Parade in general, go to

Monday, February 24, 2014

Join the St. Patrick's Peace Parade! March with the "religious division"!

Your congregation is invited to join the

Saint Patrick’s Peace Parade

Stand on the Side of Love with the Religious/Spiritual/Faith-Based Division!

Please join us for our fourth annual Saint Patrick’s Peace Parade, the Alternative People’s Parade for Peace, Equality, Jobs, Environmental Stewardship, Social and Economic Justice.

UPDATE!  WHEN: Sunday, March 16, 2014, Assemble: 2:00 p.m. (Parade start: 3:00 p.m.)

WHERE: D Street & West Broadway, South Boston (Look for white "Vets for Peace" Flags). We walk the same route and behind the traditional Saint Patrick’s Day Parade.

There are several divisions marching in the parade: spiritual/religious/faith-based groups, Veterans groups; Peace groups; LGBT groups; environmental groups; social and economic justice groups; labor groups; political groups. Please join the spiritual/religious/faith-based division! Please Contact Rev. Lara Hoke (minister of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Andover, Secretary of the Smedley D. Butler Brigade of Veterans For Peace) at or 508-615-1686 to RSVP or for more information.

We hope that this year there will be a large religious contingent made up of congregations and other religious organizations that support peace and LGBT equality.  We believe that a parade that is inclusive of LGBT groups is in the spirit of the modern celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, where “everyone is Irish” for the day.  We believe that a peace parade is in the tradition of St. Patrick, who said, “Killing cannot be with Christ”.  Please march with us, carrying a banner or sign from your congregation or religious / spiritual organization, and messages of peace and equality!  All we need is for you to join us in standing on the side of love. Please join us if you are able, encouraging parishioners to participate.  Please post the above flyer and announce the parade in your congregation’s newsletter, bulletins, and more.

As in the past, we will step off a mile behind the “official” parade.   

BACKGROUND: Why are there two parades on Saint Patrick’s Day?

This year marks the 21st anniversary of the start of the infamous Hurley v. Irish American Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Group of Boston Supreme Court case.  Twenty years ago, the Irish American Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Group of Boston asked to take part in the “official” St. Patrick’s Parade in South Boston, but their request was denied by the Allied War Veterans Council (AWVC), the group that runs the parade.  The legal case went to the Supreme Court, which determined that a private group can decide who does, and does not, march in their parade (this is known as “the Hurley decision”, from 1995). This might sound reasonable until one considers that the City of Boston provides an estimated $400,000 in support of the parade (for the Boston Police Department, the Department of Public Works, etc.); the scale of the parade and the City of Boston’s financial support make it more of a quasi-public parade, and yet the City of Boston has no say in who can participate in the parade.  The AWVC has “exclusive control”; this group holds its meetings without public involvement or comment from the community of South Boston. The AWVC continues to deny LGBT organizations the opportunity to march. 

“Some day these walls of exclusion and division will come tumbling down, said Carisa Cunningham, the Director of Public Affairs for the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD). It will be a proud day for the City of Boston when one’s sexual orientation is not a litmus test for who can participate in a parade”

This year, once again, the Allied War Veterans Council denied the Veterans For Peace (VFP) request to join in the “official” Saint Patrick’s Day Parade.  In 2011, VFP decided to have an alternative St. Patrick’s Peace Parade in South Boston instead.  That year, the Allied War Veterans Council’s reason for denying the Veterans For Peace request was that they “did not want the word ‘peace’ associated with the word ‘veteran’.”  VFP intentionally reached out to LGBT groups to invite them to join with them. In fact, LGBT groups were the first ones that VFP reached out to and invited.  In spite of the recent repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, the AWVC still does not allow LGBT groups to march in its “official” parade.
In just three weeks time in 2011, VFP pulled their own permit and had the first Saint Patrick’s Peace Parade, which had 500 participants; garnering front page coverage and editorial articles in all of the major newspapers as well as numerous radio and television reports.  
In 2013, the Third Annual St. Patrick’s Peace Parade had close to 2,000 people, seven divisions, two bands, bag pipers, drummers, a Duck Boat, two trollies, etc. It was a grand success. Our goal is to end this last vestige of institutionalized exclusion, prejudice, bigotry, and homophobia and make this parade inclusive and welcoming to all and bring the message of peace on St. Patrick’s Day.


The parade route is about 4.5 miles and ends at Andrew Station.  Rides along the parade route are available for those who need them, but please let us know ahead of time that you may need a ride.  Come by T if at all possible as the area will be very congested. Broadway is the closest MBTA subway station.

Parking is available for participants in the St. Patrick’s Peace Parade. Vehicles must enter from the north from Summer Street onto D Street; the parking lot is at 383 D Street. Look for the lot with 40 foot white truck trailers.   Allow extra time for traffic.


From North: Route I-93 to South Station exit (20 A). Merge onto Purchase Street to light (100 feet). Make a left onto Summer Street (will pass South Station on right). Go approx. 1 mile to Convention Center. Turn right onto D Street, parking lot .2 mile up on left, (look for VFP Flag)

From South: Route I-93 – Take exit 20 toward South Station. Follow signs for Chinatown, continue straight onto Lincoln Street, turn right onto Kneeland Street, turn left onto Atlantic, south Station will be up on your right. Take a right onto Summer Street. Go approx. 1 mile to Convention Center. Turn right onto D Street, parking lot .2 mile up on left, (look for VFP Flag).