President's Corner

The HUUmanists Association experienced a very productive and rewarding Justice GA last June, featuring a keynote address by Bill Murry on “Economic Justice: A Moral Imperative for UU Humanists” and a hugely successful “Book SmUUggling” project in the exhibition hall. See Roger Brewin’s GA Booth summary later in this Newsletter.

Summary of our annual membership meeting, held on June, 22, 2012

Our treasurer, Greg Seaman, reviewed our successful program to bring our revenue and expenditures into balance through cost reductions and increased paid membership. Our budget for the 2012-2013 fiscal year projects a surplus of $2,000.

The nominated slate of officers and new at-large board members was introduced, discussed and approved, with four individuals being elected for the first time. Subsequent to GA, Gayle C. Walter resigned as an at-large Director and Lowell Steinbrenner was appointed by the Board to complete her term. On behalf of the Board and the entire membership of HUUmanists, I extend our sincere thanks to Gayle Walter, Rev. Jane Esbensen, and Walter Wells for their dedicated service as officers and directors of our Association, and for all they do or Humanism and Unitarian Universalism. The current set of Officers and Board is on the website.

The annual meeting was addressed by the dynamic leaders of three organizations, with whom the HUUmanists Association has forged working relationships in the support of reason and compassion in our society. Edwina Rogers, the Executive Director of the Secular Coalition for America, described the accelerated ramp-up of efforts, on both the national and state levels, to increase the visibility of non-theist values and to defend the separation of church and state. Serah Blaine, the Executive Director of the Secular Coalition for Arizona, described the particularly difficult but critical work that SCA is doing in a state whose elected leaders have shown a particularly egregious tendency to mix religion and politics. Tony Diaz, the founder of Librotraficante, related the passionate and effective actions of the Librotraficante movement in countering the effects of Arizona House Bill 2281, which resulted in the removal of books on ethnic studies from Arizona public schools. He thanked the HUUmanists Association for our Book SmUUggling project. His program continues to fight for the repeal of the Arizona law, with a new underground library set up in Phoenix with the books donated at GA, and with more activities, such as teach-ins in every state during Spanish Heritage month.

The State of HUUmanists Association and a Look Ahead

I’m excited about what your HUUmanist Association has accomplished and optimistic about how we are positioned for the important work ahead. Our officers and directors make up a team of extraordinary and accomplished Unitarian Universalist Humanists. I feel both honored and humbled to be working with them. Together, we are developing a comprehensive and multifaceted program to strengthen and extend Humanist influence both within Unitarian Universalism and in the world at large:

  • Publishing: We are collaborating with the American Humanist Association in the publication of the electronic version of Bill Murry’s very successful book: Becoming More Fully Human and planning the publication of additional titles
  • Conscientious Stewardship of UU Humanist History: We are working with Meadville Lombard Theological School to establish an Archive of Humanist Documents and Materials
  • “Embodied Humanism:” Our Book SmUUggling project at the 2012 GA is only the beginning of a concerted effort to make sure we actively live out our Humanist values of reason and compassion, and not just talk about them
  • Education: We continue to actively work with The Humanist Institute and the Institute for Humanist Studies in providing opportunities for emerging secular and religious humanist leaders to build their skills and deepen their knowledge base.
  • Becoming a Primary Interface (Bridge) between the Secular/Non-believing Communities and Unitarian Universalism: This initiative could provide an unprecedented opportunity for us to truly fulfill our dual mission of being the voice of reason and compassion (without supernatural assumptions) within Unitarian Universalism and an advocate for Unitarian Universalism in the freethinking community at large.

These are the steps we are taking to make this happen:

  1. Help to establish and/or strengthen local Humanist and freethinker groups in close cooperation with secular Humanist organizations.
  2. Mobilize UU individuals, institutions, and congregations to actively support the activities of our partner organizations, especially those of the member organizations of the Secular Coalition for America.
  3. Be recognized by the UUA and individual Unitarian Universalists as the entity assuming responsibility for building bridges with the secular/non-believing community in UUA President Peter Morales’s Congregations and Beyond initiative. We are in discussions with UUA leadership about this.
  4. Focus our 2013 GA activities on our role as a bridge between Unitarian Universalism and the secular/non-believing communities. American Humanism coalesced and began to flourish almost a century ago when it captured the imagination of freethinking young people at the University of Chicago and Meadville Lombard Theological School.

I believe that, like our forebears, we Unitarian Universalist Humanists have a special role to play with the freethinking people – especially the young people – of today. We must accept them where they are in their life journeys. Our congregations need to be more openly welcoming to atheists, agnostics – indeed to nonbelievers of all stripes. Young nonbelievers of today deserve the same opportunity that was given to all of us – the opportunity to find a home in Unitarian Universalism, where their life stance will be not only welcomed, but also celebrated and shared. “If not us, who? If not now,when?”

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About John Hooper

John Hooper's picture

Dr. John B. Hooper, president of the Unitarian Universalist Humanist Association (UUHA), is a retired research and development director who lives in Connecticut. John, a long-term UU, is a Board Member of The Humanist Institute, The Institute for Humanist Studies, The Secular Coalition for America Education Fund, The American Humanist Association (ex officio), the Yale Humanist Community, and the Connecticut Coalition of Reason. John is also a cofounder of and advisor to Humanists and Freethinkers of Fairfield County, CT (HFFC).

1 Comments

Looking forward to publication of Bill Murry's book.