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