I was born and raised a UU in Rockford, IL. My mother is white and my father is black, and I was raised by my mother and my grandparents in the early years of my life. I’m the youngest of four, and my three sisters have also been actively involved in congregational and continental UU work.
In high school I was an active member of my congregation’s youth group, and was president of its Youth Advisory Board for one year, when I also had the opportunity to serve on the Religious Education Committee. For two years I served on the UUA’s Youth Ministry Working Group and participated in the Mosaic Project Summit, experiences which revitalized my desire to be an active UU. I also participated in several DRUUMM conferences, where I found a welcoming community of friends and mentors that challenged me to confront questions about my own identity, and helped form the basis of my commitment to history and anti-racism.
After graduating from high school in 2007, I attended college in Portland, OR for a year, and then moved to Chicago, IL where I currently study history at the University of Chicago. My decision to study history was influenced by my belief in the importance of stories, and in the importance of recognizing the past and its implications for our work in the present.
I recently completed an internship with the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, a Chicago-based group which I’ve been active for the past year. I credit my upbringing as a UU with giving me a belief in restorative rather than retributive justice, and this belief has driven my dedication to challenging injustices within the prison system and the criminal justice system.
I currently attend First Unitarian Congregation in Chicago, and find a spiritual home in the congregation’s Campus Ministry group.
“I never knew I was called to be a Director of Religious Education (DRE) until it happened. I fell in love with the members of our fellowship community. I realized that empowering children and youth is my passion. Providing them a safe space to explore their religious ideas is my mission. Encouraging them to think outside social constructs is my responsibility.”
Alison Aguilar Lopez Gutierrez McLeod Crotty was born to a Mexican family, adopted and raised by her Unitarian Universalist parents in San Diego, California and Pullman, Washington where both were University professors.
As a student at Washington State, she was the first Latina to be elected to the City Council of Pullman, Washington. In addition, while working toward her B.A. in English and Women Studies and her Masters of Education, Alison was a teacher at an Alternative High School, a tennis instructor at a local high school, and served as a Board member for a variety of organizations that dealt with civil rights, social justice, and issues faced by women of color.
Following college, Alison traveled across the country undertaking various academic and political pursuits. She has experienced Unitarianism in many venues, including All Souls in Washington D.C., Unitarian Universalist’s of the Palouse in Moscow, Idaho, and First UU Church in San Diego.
Alison worked for several years at the Washington, D.C.-based National Society of Collegiate Scholars (NSCS), a non-profit college honor society for high-achieving freshmen and sophomores across the country. Back in San Diego, Alison chose to volunteer for the first openly gay woman elected to the City Council who was seeking election to the California State Assembly. While working on that successful campaign, she met her husband, Chris Crotty, a Democratic political consultant. Alison joined her husband as a strategist with his political consulting company before finding her calling as the DRE at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of San Dieguito (UUFSD) in Solana Beach, California, just north of San Diego, where she has served for almost three years.
“My Unitarian Universalist upbringing gave me the confidence to find my voice to speak out against oppression and injustice. Beyond that, I know that I have a loving community that encourages my exploration of faith and life and how the two intersect. I carry within my heart and soul all of the support I am provided and the connections I am afforded.”
A Prayer for ALL People
Let us hold in our prayers,
The women, men and children who have had their lives forever changed by earthquakes and have been injured or killed.
Let us hold in our prayers,
The family members and friends who live far away and who feel hopeless and helpless to support their family and friends.
Let us hold in our prayers,
Relief workers who have been injured.
Let us hold in our prayers,
The non-human beings that have been injured or killed.
Dear Unknown, Unknowable, Yet Known by Many Names,
We call out to you in this time of uncertainty, loss and pain. May we have courage and compassion to support the people of Haiti and Chile.
May we have courage and compassion to work for economic justice. May we have peace of mind and the inner wisdom to know that our work for economic justice is not in vain.
In the Spirit of all that came before us. In the Spirit of all that is present this moment. In the Spirit of all that will manifest in the future. We offer this prayer.
Amen and Blessed It Be.
Rev. Dr. Monica L. Cummings
If you use or find this prayer helpful please leave a comment.
Ronald Charles (Chuck) Hunt, Jr.
Ronald Charles (Chuck) Hunt, Jr. is a graduate of Saint Frederick High School in Monroe, Louisiana and grew up in the Missionary Baptist (African American Baptist of the National Baptist Convention U.S.A.) In 2007, through the Church of the Larger Fellowship, Chuck gained interest in joining Unitarian Universalism. Chuck remarks, “I joined the faith because I can raise questions freely. I love the openness of the faith. I never was exposed to this type of faith in Northeast Louisiana. However, after reading about various U.S. Presidents and their religions, I recognized their mainstream faiths, but Unitarian was one that I was not familiar with.” Chuck goes on to say, “I went to the encyclopedia and read about UUism, but decided to go online and look up it up on Yahoo and found UUA.org. I received more information and was amazed about the faith.”
For Chuck, Unitarian Universalist inclusiveness stood out because too many religions want their members to check themselves at the door. Chuck “called a member of a UU church in Mississippi and learned more about Unitarian Universalist because he wanted to talk to people of the faith. The guy at the church gave me more details and a smile was on my face while talking to him on the phone. I was convinced that Unitarian Universalism is my faith of choice. We may have our downfalls, but there is always dialog, unlike other faiths. There is still room for improvement. My first General Assembly truly was an experience. I met people of many races, religious beliefs, and sexual orientations, etc.”
Chuck has attended McNeese State University of Lake Charles, Louisiana and Hinds Community College of Raymond, Mississippi. Currently Chuck works at a local restaurant, but is in the process of seeking new opportunities.
‘birthwatch night of sun
from darkness light
west becomes the east
freezing becomes fire
Goddess Mother Moon
she births the sun
she births the earth
she labors for
the sea and sky
death is granted life
so mote it be
and the oak fire strikes
bright the earth and sun
bright the newborn sea
bright the infant stars
her glowing earth
winter set aside
with new year naming
“everything she touches changes”
as above us so below.’
– From the book, Casting the Circle by Diane Stein
Michael Kusz Han
Michael Kusz Han lives in Renton Washington, just south of Seattle, where he is a part of the University Unitarian Church youth group. Although currently not formally involved in the Unitarian Universalist Association, he recently finished a two year term as FUNTIMES Manager for the General Assembly Youth Caucus where he was able to share with others his passion for the governance of the association.
Michael has been a UU since birth. His early life was greatly influenced by the kindness and caring he found at church. Unitarian Universalism continued to be an important factor in Michael’s life through his move to Washington shortly before his 12th birthday. As a newcomer to the Seattle area, Michael knew nobody, but his church helped him to become settled in a new place.
Eighth grade solidified Michael’s UU faith. He began the year by participating in the Our Whole Lives sexuality curriculum, followed by Coming of Age. All of this cumulated in the St. Louis General Assembly, Michael’s first GA. It was his first glimpse of the UU world beyond his own congregation. He returned to GA the following year in Portland, where he was elected to the position of FUNTIMES Manager, a position that allowed him to help create the community he loved. The next year, amid the restructuring of YRUU, he became a member of the Youth Ministry Working Group and helped to re-envision youth programming.
Racial identity has always been a struggle for Michael. Although he identifies as biracial, he is often asked to “check one box”, a policy he finds outdated and insensitive. He contemplates what it means to be Asian, but to pass as white, especially since nothing except his eyes seemed to show he was Asian. Earlier this year, Michael and the rest of his family changed their names from Kusz to Han, as a way of claiming their Corean heritage.
Michael is currently studying to be a Mechanical engineer at Highline College. He also works as the lead math tutor at Highline. In his spare time, Michael builds things, like self-defogging laboratory goggles.