October 23, 2018
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Unitarian Universalist Society of Bangor to Receive EqualityMaine’s Pioneer Award

Community Author: Karen Cashman
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Karen Cashman | BDN
Karen Cashman | BDN

BANGOR — The Unitarian Universalist Society of Bangor (UUSB), the city’s progressive faith community, later this month will be awarded the annual Pioneer Award by EqualityMaine.

The church will be recognized for the leadership it has provided in the LGBT-rights movement, particularly for its role in aiding the formation of the Maine Lesbian and Gay Political Alliance, now EqualityMaine. The award will be presented at EqualityMaine’s Community Holiday Celebration and Awards event on Friday, Dec. 15, in Bangor.

“The Unitarian Universalist Society of Bangor has been a true pioneer in creating a more fair and just state for LGBT Mainers,” Matt Moonen, EqualityMaine executive director, said.” The church played an integral role in the community response to the murder of Charlie Howard in 1984; and in turn, the formation of the Maine Lesbian and Gay Political Alliance—currently EqualityMaine—later  that year.

“They have since provided great leadership and support for the LGBT movement and community in Bangor,” Moonen continued. “We are honored to present them with our Pioneer Award this year.”

“The Unitarian Universalist Society of Bangor is proud to accept EqualityMaine’s Pioneer Award,” said Eric Olson, UUSB Council chair. “This recognition of the society affirms our sacred principles of justice, equity, and compassion in human relations. UUSB works hard to be a ‘Welcoming Congregation,’ one which is inclusive of our LGBTQ friends and allies.”

EqualityMaine, headquartered in Portland, works to secure full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in Maine through political action, community organizing, education, and collaboration. EqualityMaine is the state’s oldest and largest LGBT rights and advocacy organization. The organization has been at the forefront of the fight to secure equal rights for Maine’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities for more than 33 years.

The statewide organization presents three annual awards, including the Pioneer Award, to those people and organizations that help to support its mission of inclusion. The other 2017 honorees are: Community Courage Award, Cindy Leiffer, and Community Partner Award, Mabel Wadsworth Center.

The UUSB is receiving this award for helping the formation of EqualityMaine in the 1980’s after the murder of Charlie Howard, a 23-year-old gay man and church member. In July 1984, Howard was thrown off a downtown bridge by three local teens and drowned in the Kenduskeag Stream. A memorial has been established at the site of his tragic death, and in 2014, July 7, the date of Howard’s death, was proclaimed Tolerance Day in Bangor.

The UUSB, which is a welcoming congregation, has held annual services in memory of Howard since his death. EqualityMaine also is recognizing the faith community for its support of the Bridge Alliance a local non-profit LGBT advocacy group, hosting phone banks during the state’s marriage-equality campaigns, providing meeting spaces and helping to create a safer community for LGBT people. The UUSB also participates in the annual Bangor Pride Parade. Located on Park Street, the church community has been in existence in Bangor since the 1830s. Its religious heritage is derived from Unitarian Universalist traditions, with a focus on spiritual growth and service and the acknowledgment of the inherent worth and dignity of every person.

For more information about the Unitarian Universalist Society of Bangor, go to www.uubangor.org

For more information about EqualityMaine, go to www.equalitymaine.org