The Courage to Love: An Invitation


Clear your calendar because the leadership of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) is coming to you. As you may know the headquarters for our denomination is in Boston. Our faith has occasionally been accused of being a bit Boston-centric. In the 19th century it was said, “Unitarians believe in the Fatherhood of God, the Brotherhood of Man and the Neighborhood of Boston,” although we have expanded geographically, theologically and in our understanding of gender identity since then. In the 1960’s it was said, “You can tell if someone is a Unitarian if they spell god with a small “g” and Boston with a capital “B”.” This is a statement was probably more true then than it is now due to the decline in influence of the poet e.e. cummings. Nevertheless, from January 19-21 Boston is coming to you. The President, Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray, and the Board of Trustees for the Unitarian Universalist Association will be here in Knoxville.

There are many ways you can be a part of this weekend (see below for a complete listing) but I would like to highlight one because it is your opportunity to have your voice heard on important questions of the day. The President and the Board are meeting in different parts of the country to get outside the Boston Bubble and learn how our faith is working around the country

On Saturday, January 20, I invite you to come to an event called “Courage to Love: a Values and Vision Conversation with the UUA Board” from 3-5:30 pm here at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church. Those paying close attention will know our denomination has been rocked by controversy lately. In March Peter Morales, the first Hispanic President of the UUA resigned over a controversial hiring decision for the lead the Southern Region that involved accusations of white supremacy. There is no short or simple way to summarize all the issues involved here except to say that our denomination is in an intentional listening, learning, healing time with the goal of transformation to a more just and equitable UUA. Your voice and your vision can be a part of this process. This is a chance for your questions, concerns and suggestions to be heard and honored. So do your homework, reread your old World magazines (or review articles online at Seek out the universe of UU blogs to get a feel for the issues under discussion right now (some of which can be found through this link


An important question that looms large is, “What will our faith look like 50 years from now?” I will not claim to have the gift of prophecy. When I started working for the UU church in 1990 someone donated a computer to the church and I thought, “Why would we need one of those?” Now everyone has a computer on their phone and my days are filled with emails, messengers, social media posts and Zoom meetings. So if you are more farsighted than I your participation will be very important for this discussion about our future.

This meeting will also be a chance to meet the new President of the UUA and to see TVUUC’s own Elandria Williams in her role as co-moderator of the UUA alongside her colleague Barb Greve, the highest volunteer positions in our denomination. Some of the most important challenges of our times may have as much to do with process (the moderator’s job) as it has to do with product.

Let me close with an interesting fact: Gordon Gibson who once served as minister of a church in the neighborhood of Boston regularly reminds us. “Per capita there is a greater percentage of Unitarian Universalists in the Knoxville area than there are in Boston.” Which goes to show you that we have been doing our part to help our faith expand geographically, theologically, spiritually and numerically. So let’s keep up the good work and be a part of the conversation that helps move our faith forward.

-Chris Buice, minister of the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church


 A Complete Listing of the Weekends Events

WHAT: The Courage to Love: Sustaining Our Souls in the Work for Justice

            Dinner and program with the UUA Board and Highlander staff

The UUA Board is holding its January meeting at the Highlander Center in East Tennessee.  You are invited to join in for dinner and a program led by Highlander Staff, including UUA Co-Moderator Elandria Williams.

You are welcome to arrive earlier than 6pm and sit in on the UUA Board meeting.  Please allow ample time to arrive, as part of the drive is on narrow country roads.

WHEN: Friday, January 19th, 6-9pm

WHO: for UU congregational social justice leaders and high school youth

  • Renew energy within and connections between congregational social justice leaders—adults and youth.
  • Learn about the history of connections between Highlander and UU’ism in East TN
  • Learn from Highlander’s model of long-haul grassroots organizing that centers partnership and cultural work

WHERE: The Highlander Center, 1959 Highlander Way, New Market, TN

RSVP by January 11 HERE:

$15 donation for dinner requested.

If you have questions, please contact Rev. Laura Bogle at

WHAT: Courage to Love choir rehearsals to prepare selections for Sunday’s cluster worship

WHO: anyone who likes to sing!

Saturday, January 6 from 10-12 (Westside UU Church, 616 Fretz Rd., Farragut)

Saturday, January 20 from 1-3pm (Rothschild Event Center, 8807 Kingston Pike)

Sunday, January 21: choir call time is 9:30am at Rothschild Event Center, 8807 Kingston Pike)

To join the choir, contact:

 WHAT: Courage to Love: A values and vision conversation with the UUA Board

This is an opportunity to participate in helping the Board understand the values and visions that shape our faith tradition here in East Tennessee. The Board is intentionally meeting in different parts of the country to learn about the needs and concerns, differences and similarity in many different regions. In the 19th century they said, “Unitarians believe in the Fatherhood of God, the Brotherhood of Man and the Neighborhood of Boston.” We have expanded geographically, theologically and in our knowledge of gender identity since then. The board is waiting to learn from and with you – don’t miss this chance to be in conversation with the board.

WHEN: Saturday January 20th, 3-5:30 pm

WHO: Congregational leaders (childcare provided)

LOCATION: TVUUC, 2931 Kingston Pike, Knoxville

RSVP to:

WHAT: Courage to Love Party: Dinner and Coffeehouse

Gather for catered dinner and informal conversation with our UUA Board. Stay for an evening of entertainment by talented performers from our local congregations.  All ages welcome. The dinner will be from 6-7 followed by a coffee house review featuring members and friends of the Knoxville, Farragut, Maryville and Oak Ridge congregations.

WHEN: 6-9pm

WHERE: TN Valley UU Church, Kingston Pike, Knoxville

            REGISTER and reserve your spot for dinner by Jan. 12.

Cost for dinner: $8 ages 10 and up, $4 ages 5 to 10, no charge for children under 5

To volunteer with set-up or clean-up, contact:

To perform, contact:


WHAT: The Courage to Love: Worship and Fellowship

This will be a special worship service for all area congregations to come together. It is also a great time to invite a friend who would like to learn more about Unitarian Universalism. We will focus on “The Courage to Love,” telling stories of hometown faith, when sometimes simply showing up at church, and living boldly in the places we live, asks great courage of us. The Reverend Susan Frederick-Gray, president of our denomination, will be the preacher.

WHEN: Sunday January 21st, 11am

WHERE: Rothchild Event Center, 8807 Kingston Pike, Knoxville

WHO: All four Knox-area UU congregations, plus open to the public – invite a friend!

UUA President Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray preaching, Rev. Jason Shelton leading music

Worship with hundreds of area UUs.  All-ages worship *and* childcare available.

Share food and fellowship, and check out informational exhibits following worship.

 To volunteer on Sunday morning, contact:  

To participate in the choir, contact:




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