Love is theme as Unitarians unite

Tracy Haun OwensWest Hills

This Sunday, Jan. 21, at 11 a.m., four local Unitarian Universalist congregations will come together for a special worship celebration. The Courage to Love: Worship and Fellowship will be held at Rothchild Event Center at 8807 Kingston Pike, Knoxville.

The celebration is being sponsored by Foothills Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, Maryville; Tennessee Valley Unitarian Church, Knoxville; Westside Unitarian Universalist Church, Farragut; and Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church.

The sermon will be delivered by the Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray, president of the Unitarian Universalist Association. She was elected president last June, the first woman to hold this position. The Rev. Jason Shelton of Nashville, a nationally acclaimed composer and conductor, will lead the choir.

“We haven’t had anything quite like this before,” says Rev. Laura Bogle of Foothills UUC, adding that they are having it at the catering and event center because no one of the individual churches was large enough for the hundreds of congregants who are expected.

The public is welcome. The service is all ages, and there will also be childcare available for children 5 and under. There will be food and socializing following the service, and there will be exhibits that explain more about the faith and its history.

There will also be personal stories of faith and a loving remembrance of the two people who were killed and the others wounded at the 2008 shooting at the Tennessee Valley UUC. This summer marks the 10th anniversary of the shooting and the congregation’s courageous response to it.

“Part of the reason we are doing this is to celebrate all the different ways progressive people of faith in Tennessee continue to show up daily for love and justice,” Bogle says. “We are part of a much larger network of people of faith, and we have a long tradition of faith-based activism we can draw on.”

For more information about the great Knoxville area’s Unitarian Universalist churches, visit


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