Because Prairie Star District has become part of MidAmerica Region, this page has been archived as of July 15, 2013, for reference purposes. It will not be updated in the future, and some links may no longer work properly.  For more up-to-date information, please visit the Mid America UUA site.  Thank you!

Liberal Religion

mcnattA Date with History

The Reverend Rosemary Bray McNatt
Fourth Universalist Society of New York

Arthur M. Judy Lecture
Prairie Star District Annual Conference
Saturday, April 9, 2005
St. Paul, Minnesota

Even this early in the morning, it is an honor to be here, and I want to thank all of you here in Prairie Star, first for inviting me and giving me the opportunity to see old friends, including Rob and Janne Eller-Isaacs, and to make new friends. I want to thank you for the gracious hospitality you’ve shown a weary traveler, especially Catie Olson, one of your district’s fabulous future ministers. Catie is a seminarian at UTS and I had the pleasure of meeting with Catie as well as several of her seminarian colleagues yesterday. Our movement is blessed to have them as participants in the future of our religious movement.


There’s an old story, told across many cultures, of a couple who had been greatly blessed with the birth of their first son. When they sat down to decide on the child’s name, they could not agree on the name, and in fact were so angry with one another that they sought out the help of their spiritual leader. Together with the child, they stood before this holy woman and asked for help.

“What do you want to name this child,” the holy woman asked the father. “I want to name him Kaliba,” the father replied. “And what do you want to name him,” she asked the mother. “I want to name him Kaliba,” the mother replied.

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Try A Little Tenderness

DRev. Dr. Laurel Hallmanr. Laurel Hallman
First Unitarian Church of Dallas, Texas

Keynote Address

Prairie Star District Annual Conference
Friday, April 13, 2007
Minneapolis, Minnesota


First let me say how pleased I am to be here. I moved to Minnesota from California in 1965, and found Unity Church, Unitarian in St. Paul when Arthur Foote was the Minister there. It was there I discovered that you could leave church feeling better than you had felt when you entered! Having been raised in a hellfire and damnation Baptist church, it was quite a revelation. I think the records will show that I joined the church on Easter Sunday, 1966—the most significant commitment in my life.

I want to tell one important personal story before I begin my talk.

In January, 1977, my father had open heart surgery, and I flew home to be with my family in that scary time. It was almost surreal, flying from deep winter here to winter-lite in California—taking family pictures in front of the orange trees on our ranch there—wanting to make sure we had pictures of all of us together before we drove off to the hospital.

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Diversity in the UU Pew

schuler Possibility or Pipe Dream?

The Reverend Michael Schuler
First Unitarian Society of Madison, Wisconsin

Keynote Address
Prairie Star District Annual Conference
Friday, April 8, 2005
St. Paul, Minnesota

Reaching out to Adam Smith

Last fall I delivered a sermon on “evil” from my pulpit in Madison, in which I offered a more nuanced and less dualistic definition of this controversial term than one typically encounters. Only a small percentage of those who perpetrate evil are “malicious” by design or intent, I suggested. Most of the evil human agents produce on our planet reflects either “the assertion of self interest without regard for the whole,” as Reinhold Niehbuhr put it, or “the excess application of a single, central principle,” to paraphrase Lord Acton. In either case, the individual or collective responsible for evil has been “deluded into thinking they are doing right.” The main point to this sermon was that one does not have to be a “bad” person, a morally depraved or reprehensible person, to commit evil. One only has to be, as Hinduism teaches, “deluded” or “willfully ignorant” (Avidya is the Sanskrit term).

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Growing Vital and Faithful Congregations

The Reverend Dr. William R. Murry
President, Meadville / Lombard Theological School

Arthur M. Judy Lecture
Prairie Star District Annual Conference
Saturday, April 28, 2001
Bloomington, Minnesota

There is a story about a brand new Anglican priest who, feeling trepidation at the task he was about to undertake, asked his bishop what he should preach about. The bishop replied, “Preach about God and about 20 minutes.” Well, I am going to talk about growing vital congregations and about 40 minutes.

Like all of you, I am sure, I want to see our religious movement grow and become more vital, and the only way that can happen is for our congregations to become more vital and faithful to our tradition and to liberating faith. Such congregations are those that minister effectively to each member, that have a constructive influence in their communities, and are growing numerically not because of expensive advertising campaigns but because the word is out that these are congregations that are meeting the spiritual needs of its members and are transforming their lives and the larger communities as well.

This morning I want to discuss the qualities of that kind of congregation, and to do so I want to use a text from the writings of the great 19th century Unitarian minister, Theodore Parker, whom Henry Steele Commager called “Yankee Crusader.” Parker wrote: “Let us have a church for the whole person: truth for the mind, good works for the hands, love for the heart; a church which, like lightning in the clouds, shines brightest when elsewhere it is most dark.” We have adopted a portion of that statement for the unofficial motto of Meadville/Lombard Theological School — the part that says: “truth for the mind, good works for the hands, love for the heart” — because those three qualities are the qualities we want our graduates to have. And those three qualities are what I want to emphasize this morning.

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Making Room In Our Hearts

The Reverend Peter Morales
Director of UUA District Services

Keynote Address
Prairie Star District Annual Conference
Friday, April 23, 2004
Kansas City, Missouri

Rev. Peter MoralesI can still remember the first Sunday morning I visited a Unitarian Universalist congregation nine years ago. My wife Phyllis and our daughter Marcela, then 12, drove 20 miles from our home in Cottage Grove, Oregon, to Eugene that drizzly Sunday morning. Marcela had never been to church and Phyllis and I had not darkened the door of a church in nearly 30 years. Our good friends Joy and Martin Overstreet would often talk about activities and friends at their church, Michael Servetus, in Vancouver, Washington. Joy and Martin kept telling us we should try out the church in Eugene, that it was not all the things we hated about church, that we would find people like us there. I rolled my eyes. Finally, visiting the church seemed like the path of least resistance. Then we could say we had visited and that it just wasn’t for us, thank you very much.

It seemed like the path of least resistance until we drove into the parking lot. Then it got a bit scary. Believe me, it was an act of courage to get out of the car and walk across the parking lot and through those doors. Was this going to be totally weird? Would we be smothered by overeager greeters? Or, worse yet, would we be completely ignored and made to feel unwelcome and unwanted? We were surprised that the people were nice, friendly but not pushy, that the service had a good, warm feel to it. The sermon, by a woman, no less, was thoughtful and challenging. Marcela even enjoyed the youth group.

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