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2017 Stewardship Sermon Award

Stewardship Sermon Award 2017 Winner Selected!

Please join us in congratulating Rev. Bill Neely for his winning sermon, "The Guy on the Bus".

Established in 1984, the Stewardship Sermon Award is granted annually in recognition of a sermon that best explores and promotes the financial support of our Unitarian Universalist faith. The $1,000 award is jointly sponsored by the Annual Program Fund (APF), the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association (UUMA) and the Liberal Religious Educators Association (LREDA). The selection is made by a representative committee using a blind process with standardized criteria.

The panel also chose an “Honorable Mention” sermon this year. It was titled “Choose Your Own Spiritual Adventure” and was written by Rev. Bret Lortie.

Are You Interested in a LREDA 21st Century Grant?

Have a great idea that will support religious education and religious educators? Need inspiration to apply for a 21st Century Grant? Learn a little more about a recently awarded grant. 

In 2016 Universalist landmark and retreat center Murray Grove, under the leadership of Rev. Carol S. Haag, received a LREDA 21st Century Grant to create a Coming of Age Program for Unitarian Universalists. Religious Educators Tracy Breneman and Meagan Henry created an exciting, dynamic program designed to enhance and deepen the experiences of participants in Unitarian Universalist Coming of Age classes. 

The program is a credo exploration and writing workshop with an overarching goal to help young people grow and develop in their Unitarian Universalist faith. Murray Grove is the pioneer of the curriculum, which is available for use by clusters of congregations throughout Unitarian Universalist districts and regions. There are specifically Universalist elements in the retreat, drawing upon the rich heritage of Murray Grove, its founding and the history of Universalism. This retreat is designed for youth in seventh through ninth grades with the understanding that each congregation may have youth who are a bit younger or older.

Feedback from participants:

  • This retreat was a very positive bonding experience for the class and they made excellent progress on defining their beliefs in preparation for writing their personal statements.
  • Thanks for all your hard work. I think the weekend was a worthwhile experience for all involved. Overall, I thought it was a very thought provoking and well put together curriculum.
  • I felt privileged to be at the retreat, being with kids at a time of awakening.
  • This is an exciting curriculum, really well written, full of engaging activities and exercises, a nice flow bringing the youth toward completion of a thoughtful, well articulated credo statement. It was good to work with as leaders. It is large and so a lot to absorb and share back to the group, but well worth the effort. 
  • Thank you so much to all of you for providing a meaningful and profound retreat experience for our young people who will be coming of age. Your combined efforts allowed our children to stay safe while reaching deeply and of course, having fun.


Grant applications are due by December 31st. Questions about the 21st Century Fund and the projects they support? Contact [email protected]

Judith Frediani--2016 Mac Lean Award for Excellence in Religious Education

Congratulations to Judith A. Frediani, the 2016 Recipient of the

Angus MacLean Excellence in Religious Education

Judith Frediani with members of the LREDA Board
Judith Frediani with members of the LREDA Board: Robin Pugh, Annie Scott, Dana Regan, Cathy Seggel, Becky Brooks, Meagan Henry, Judith Frediani and Lily Rappaport

View Video of the award presentation at the Columbus 2016 UUA General Assembly

Text of the presentation: 

Jim Key, Moderator of the UUA:
"The Angus H. MacLean award was established in 1972 by the St. Lawrence University Theological School Alumni Association and the Religious Education Department of the UUA. It is awarded each year to someone who has made outstanding contributions to religious education. This year, the honor goes to Judith A. Frediani."

Jessica York, Director of the Faith Development Office of the UUA:
“Good morning. As I go about my work in service to our faith, I am aware of the great need for those who keep the flame. Keeping the flame is not a passive role. It is about much more than just carrying on a legacy.

A keeper can hold a light unto an organization so it may keep its stated goals in sight. And more than that, a keeper can use the light of the flame to discern the true desires of our faith, those buried deep in our hearts – the ones sometimes hidden or of which we may be too scared to speak, lest they prove too ambitious.

In our faith, we need those who keep the flame of justice, the flame of a burning desire to make meaning of our daily existence, the flame of the communal fire, the flame of a mighty love strong enough to tear down walls, persistent enough to be passed down from generation to generation. This award is about nothing if not a sign of our gratitude for those who keep the flame.

When Judith Frediani left her position as director of religious education at First Parish Bedford to become the curriculum director at the UUA in 1985, she accepted a flame. Over the next 28 years, moving from that position to director of Lifespan Faith Development and Resource Development office, Judith created curricula, facilitated workshops, and supervised staff, as you would expect. But she also used her position as director to lift up social justice, lifelong learning, and the very profession of religious education.

Under Judith’s direction, religious education curricula and resources asked us to engage with themes of justice as a foundational element of what it means to be a Unitarian Universalist. Her own passion for antiracism, anti-oppression work melded with that of our Association’s. Race to Justice, Rainbow Children, Weaving the Fabric of Diversity, and In Our Hands were just some of the curricula created during Judith’s first decade at the UUA.

In later years, Judith brought to life two of the most ambitious and successful projects of the UUA, both of which are also filled with a call to justice. Our Whole Lives has changed the landscape of comprehensive sexuality education. It is currently used not only in congregations, but in many secular settings. Judith was the project manager for Our Whole and Lives, editor and author of the Adult level Sexuality and Our Faith.

Tapestry of Faith, the new core curricula, was a decade in the making. Many stakeholders helped shape the vision for a free, online, lifespan curriculum that could ensure a rich, common learning experience for all UUs. Judith was responsible for taking all the ideas and making something focused and complete out them. Today we have 15,000 pages online of 40 plus programs for preschoolers to elders.

A master’s level credentialed religious educator, Judith directed the Renaissance program to provide professional development to religious educators and other congregational leaders. She taught UU Religious Education at Harvard Divinity School for 13 years, inspiring and informing divinity students with a broad understanding and active commitment to religious education in their future ministries.

Collaboration amongst religious professionals and between the staff group she directed and other teams – both within the UUA and outside – has been a hallmark of her tenure. She recruited staff amongst UUs of Color and those who bring the same anti-oppression lens and collaborative skills to their work that she herself possess.

Yet one of the most profound flames Judith has kept alive is as an advocate for religious education and religious educators as central to the very core of our faith. Judith understands that the teaching is just as important to a liberal religious faith as the preaching for how can we be informed enough to make faithful choices in our life without the reflection and practice religious education brings? Judith recognized the need for institutional support for religious educators and other religious professionals who focus on faith development… She tirelessly witnessed to this need at district and congregational gatherings, as a member of the Liberal Religious Educators Association, and at the UUA’s Leadership Council, where for many years she was able to speak to the importance of religious educators as leaders in our faith.

Judith has kept a burning faith in the worth of our community of religious educators. Sparks of meaning making have been fed by her devotion to educating a generation of children, youth, young adults and adults, lay leaders, ordained ministers, and religious educators. The flame of justice in Unitarian Universalism burns brighter because of Judith Frediani.

Today I give honor to a wise teacher, a staunch advocate for religious educators, a mentor, and a prophetic leader, …. the 2016 Angus H. MacLean Award for Excellence in Religious Education goes to Judith A. Frediani."

Judith Frediani, 2016 Angus MacLean Award Recipient:
Thank you, Jessica, for your remarkably humbling words and for the bright flame that you carry for our faith. Angus MacLean wrote: ‘To be a Unitarian Universalist all the time is almost too much to ask.’
He was referring to the sometimes burden of our theological freedom and the lofty values to which we aspire.
Yet we cherish that burden, a burden made tolerable by a community of all ages engaged in lifelong learning, meaning making, celebrating, and just trying to do the right thing.
I call that engagement religious education. Please keep it up. And thank you.