One blossoming National Standing on the Side of Love Day tradition is to lift up community members who have exhibited courageous love by presenting them with an award. During these past Thirty Days, eight congregations sent us news about the awards for courageous love they presented to outstanding individuals in their communities. If your community or congregation lifted up courageous love, or plans to, let us know so we can spread the word: email firstname.lastname@example.org.
First Parish UU, Cambridge, Massachusetts
First Parish in Cambridge, Unitarian Universalist, presented its second annual Courageous Love Award to Nancy Nangeroni, Chair of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition. The award honors Ms. Nangeroni’s years of dedicated service to the transgender community, her perseverance in educating the general public about transgender life and issues, and her critical role in passing the Massachusetts Transgender Equal Rights Act. She also started a nationwide campaign to end violence against transgender people, which inspired the International Transgender Day of Remembrance held each November. Ms. Nangeroni spoke to the congregation about the struggle of the transgender community for respect, acceptance, and safety and the joy of striving together for justice. Presentation of the award was followed by song and celebration outside on the church steps beneath the congregation’s newly re-dedicated rainbow flag.
Community Church of Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Community Church gave a courageous love award to Sherre Toler in recognition of her principled stance against the upcoming anti-LGBT amendment to the North Carolina state constitution. She was the Director of Elections for Harnett County, North Carolina, for eleven and a half years, and was proud of the progress made in voting procedures and the fair and efficient operation of the Board of Elections during her tenure. But resigned her position because she believed that could not ethically remain in her position and oversee this amendment on the ballot. To celebrate her courage, the congregation made a valentine thanking her for her stand and invited members of the congregation to sign it during coffee hour.
Northwest Unitarian Universalist Church, Southfield, Michigan
Northwest UU Church presented a Love Award to the Ruth Ellis Center for its work with homeless LGBT youth. Ruth Ellis Center Board Member Dr. Amorie Robinson accepted the award on behalf of the organization, which is one of four such centers in the nation that serves homeless LGBTQ youth. Dr. Robinson is a noted clinical psychologist who has taught college-level women’s studies, including classes on LGBT and race issues, and is now contracted by the state of Michigan to assist schools throughout Michigan to address issues of bullying in primary schools. Northwest UU Church contributed $248.24 from their collection to the Ruth Ellis Center. In an interview, Rev. Kimi Riegel said of the congregation’s decision to honor the center, “This year in the Detroit area 2,000 teens and young adults will become homeless or at-risk because of their identity. The Ruth Ellis Center saves the lives of many LGBTQ youth within Michigan. The center provides safe space at its drop-in center and residential facility, which serves LGBTQ youth through enrichment programs, counseling and testing, and several support services.”
UU Church of the South Hills, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
The Unitarian Universalist Church of the South Hills chose the Rev. Dr. Janet Edwards to be the recipient of their “Love” Award for her unwavering dedication to the inclusion of LGBT people in the Presbyterian Church USA. Rev. Edwards went through three years of disciplinary action for presiding at the wedding of two women in 2005. She was acquitted by the Pittsbugh Presbytery court in 2008. While Rev. Edwards was co-moderator of More Light Presbyterians and after almost 40 years of debate, the Presbyterian Church USA changed its constitution to allow openly gay candidates to be ordained as ministers, elders and deacons.
UU Congregation of Marin, California
The UU Congregation of Marin presented its second annual Standing on the Side of Love award to the executive director of SPECTRUM, an organization that provides services to the LGBT residents of Marin County, California, during a service last Sunday. A certificate and Standing on the Side of Love t-shirt were presented to the honoree.
Mission Peak UU Congregation, Fremont, California
Mission Peak‘s Love Hero award ceremony honored the late Mayor Wasserman of Fremont. The award was presented to Linda Wasserman, Mayor Wasserman’s wife. As reported by the Fremont Bulletin, “Mayor Wasserman was honored for the way he embraced diversity by appointing commissioners from different backgrounds, and helped pass a Fremont City Council resolution opposing Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot initiative to ban same-sex marriage. In a time when the city’s population changed from a white to Asian majority, Wasserman encouraged the community others to respect diversity.”
First UU Society of Albany, New York
First UU Albany presented their second annual Standing on the Side of Love award to Fred Boehrer and Diana Conroy. They founded the Albany Emmaus House and the New Sanctuary for Immigrants (NSI). NSI provides free services to both documented and undocumented immigrants. Its volunteers visit jails, go to courts, advocate for worker’s rights, promote comprehensive immigration reform, and house homeless immigrants.
Prescott UU Fellowship, Arizona
Prescott UU Fellowship presented four local organizations with certificates and honorariums to honor their “courageous love.” Awards were given to the Anglo-Latino Alliance, Hungry Kids, Inc., Coalition for Compassion & Justice’s Home Repair program, and the Granite Peak UU Congregation Neighborhood Education Project.