Explore our Archives!

These acid free boxes properly store and preserve our archives

These acid free boxes properly store and preserve our archives

On Tuesday, the Meadville Lombard Staff, spearheaded by John Leeker and Eric Biddy, moved a large amount of our archive collection that was housed in First Church to our location in the Spertus Building. Because of these efforts, priceless pieces of Unitarian, Universalist, and Unitarian Universalist history are now in being preserved in our climate controlled building, being processed, and cataloged to become more accessible. We are at the beginning of this very long process, but we are excited to share some of the interesting things we have found thus far.

John Leeker shares with us some of the interesting pieces he has found in our archives:

  • Handwritten sermons and lectures by Henry Ware Jr., an influential Unitarian minister from the early 1800s. Most of the documents we have date from the 1820-1830s.
  • The personal papers of Marjorie Newlin Leaming (1915-2010). Not only an accomplished writer, she is one of the handful of UU women who had their own pulpit in the 1950s and 1960s.
A page written by William Ellery Channing

A page written by William Ellery Channing

  • The records of the Unitarian Society in Lawrence, Kansas from the 1850s. The Unitarians who founded the society moved to Lawrence from Boston to help make Kansas a free state. During the time of the records we have, Lawrence was burnt down twice by slave supporters and was in a constant state of warfare.
  • The personal papers of Dorothy Grant (1905-2004). She was a head start teacher, advocate for domestic violence victims, an archivist, author and an all-around awesome person.  Most importantly for our archives, she kept detailed records of other U.U. women in the middle of the 20th century, and her papers give us a rare glimpse into the day to day lives women who are otherwise shut out of the historical record.
  • The personal papers of James Vila Blake, an important early 20th century Unitarian poet. Included is a book of unpublished love poems, not to be read or published until 25 years after his death, and a collection of love letters that were supposed to be burnt after his death. Both the
    More archive boxes!

    More archive boxes!

    poems and the letters are addressed to someone who is not Mrs. Vila Blake.  Also, both the poems and the letters were last touched by James Vila Blake himself. They are still unopened, 80 years after he locked them in a box and tied them into a parcel.

Our 2013 Graduating Class!


Earning the Doctorate of Ministry:

Lynn Margaret Acquafondata of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

B.A., Binghamton University

M.Div., United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities

Dissertation Title: “Mapping Congregational Emotional Systems”


Leddy Elaine Hammock of Clearwater, Florida

B.A., University of Missouri at St. Louis

M.Th., Emma Curtis Hopkins College and Theological Seminary

Dissertation Title: “Music in Ministry: Method, Mysticism, and Message”


Earning the Master of Arts in Religion 

James M. Moir of Warren, Michigan

B.A., University of Michigan

M.L.S., Wayne State University

Douglas J. Traversa of Tullahoma, Tennessee

B.S., Clearwater Christian College

M.S., Air Force Institute of Technology


Earning the Master of Divinity

Joel Wyatt Araujo of Cincinnati, Ohio

A.A., University of Cincinnati

B.A., College of Mount St. Joseph


Deborah Diane Cole of Severn, Maryland

B.A., University of Maryland, College Park


Jorge E. Espinel of Colombia

B.S., Colombia Naval Academy


David Bruce Etherington of Micanopy, Florida

B.S., University of Florida

M.B.A., University of Tennessee

J.D., Georgia State University


Shawna Leigh Foster of Papillion, Nebraska

B.S., University of Nebraska


James Robert Foti of Minneapolis, Minnesota

B.A., University of Wisconsin, Madison


Roger C. Grugel of Naples, Florida

B.A., Moorhead State University

J.D., University of North Dakota


James Ellsworth Magaw II of Carrboro, North Carolina

B.A., University of North Carolina


Patrick McLaughlin of Vista, California

B.A., University of California at San Diego


Margaret C.F. McLaughlin of St. Paul, Minnesota

B.A., Youngstown State University


Tisha Lee Moore of Ann Arbor, Michigan

B.A., University of Michigan


Sarah Catherine Richards of Somerville, Massachusetts

B.A., University of Iowa

M.A., Boston University

Ph.D., Boston University


Ja Rickard of Wilmot, Wisconsin

B.A., American Public University


Amy Petrie Shaw of Blanchester, Ohio

B.A., Northern Kentucky University


Kevin Joseph Tarsa of Maple City, Michigan


M. Linda Thomson of Burlington, Ontario

B.A., McMaster University


Gretchen Elaine Weis of Arlington, Virginia

B.A., University of Wisconsin, Madison


Lynnda K. White of West Peoria, Illinois

B.A., Illinois College


Judy A. Zimmerman of Banks, Oregon

B.A., California State University, Fullerton

M.A., University of California


Earning the degree of Master of Divinity and Master of Leadership Studies 

Nathan Alan Hollister of Carrboro, North Carolina

B.A., Northeastern University

B.S., Northeastern University

Larry Ladd – Doctor of Humane Letters Degree Recipient


Larry Ladd serves as an administrator, trustee and consultant in higher education and is an active volunteer leader in Unitarian Universalism. He is the national director of the higher education practice of Grant Thornton LLP, the fifth largest accounting and consulting firm. Before joining Grant Thornton, he was the Director of Budget and Financial Planning at Harvard University, chief financial officer of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Dean of Administration and Dean of the College of Special Studies at Tufts University, Assistant Provost at Boston University, and Assistant to the President of Duke University. He serves as a trustee of the Porter Foundation, having served previously as a trustee of the University of Massachusetts, Boston Architectural College, and Civic Education Foundation. He is a frequent speaker at organizations such as the American Zoo & Aquarium Association, Association of Jesuit Colleges & Universities, Association of Theological Schools, Greek Orthodox Church, Green Mountain Summit on Investor Responsibility, National Association of College & University Business Officers, Public Broadcasting Management Association, and Consortium of Endowed Episcopal Parishes. He has been quoted in The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, and other industry publications.

A third generation Unitarian Universalist, he is a member and former president of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Falmouth, Massachusetts, where he served as president. He is currently the Chair of the UUA Nominating Committee. He has served two terms as Financial Advisor of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) and one term as a member of the UUA Commission on Appraisal. He also served on the board of the Connecticut Valley District (now Clara Barton District) and as treasurer of the Church of the Larger Fellowship. As a youth he was the continental president of Liberal Religious Youth, the predecessor of YRUU.

A Look Into The Life of a Seminarian

Shawna Foster is in her final year of the Master of Divinity program . Shawna will be graduating this Sunday. We asked Shawna to reflect on her time at Meadville Lombard as a seminarian. Get a glimpse into her life, and the life of our seminarians, in this blog post. And congratulations to all of the 2013 graduating class – we will see you this weekend!

Shawna FosterIf a month of my intern ministry were condensed into a week, it’d look like this:

On Sunday I’d preside over a worship service where the congregation will text their joys and concerns. I’d give a sermon about what the next generation of Unitarian Universalists need. After posting the sermon on YouTube, I’ll meet with a small group working on anti-racism in the congregation, Skyping a few members in. Then I’ll make a pastoral visit to a veteran who recently decided to remove his feeding tube. On Monday, I have a staff meeting and will discuss the youth mission trip’s fundraising success with the bookkeeper. That evening I’ll join choir practice before meeting with the UU-UNO committee about Human Rights Day coming up this December. The next day I’ll go to my clinical pastoral care site and visit with those who await surgery, or will be told that their cancer is inoperable. On Wednesday, I’ll take a break, but on Thursday I’ll lunch with colleagues in the region before my Google hangout with my peer praxis group. We’ll submit our assignment on family systems in congregations via LiveText after we co-create the memo.  That evening my teaching pastor and I will meet for our weekly advising appointment, and then I’ll discuss my progress with my lay committee. Friday, I’ll write a sermon about doomsday predictions and contribute to the Google doc my co-presenters created for a solidarity workshop we’re presenting at the upcoming regional conference. Saturday morning, I join the garden team to spruce up the church grounds for spring, meet with my entire seminary class cohort via teleconference, and that night my family and I are going to a Celtic dance benefit for the church. And Sunday – well it’s church again!

All this while still in seminary.

The strongest aspect of my ministerial formation is the praxis work. The principles I learn in intensives and during the year are immediately applied. I see and discuss the results among my peers and faculty. I have a three-year relationship with my teaching pastor who sees my formation through community, pastoral, and congregational ministry. As a mother of two kids starting kindergarten, the idea of finishing my Masters of Divinity and being ready to work for a congregation in as little as three years works for me. It also works to be a full time student and intern at community and congregational sites for 8-20 hours a week. All while learning from faculty who understand the multi-cultural, post-denominational, ministerial world I’m stepping into.

This year I’m graduating with 24 other seminarians who are going to be placed in congregations, hospice homes, legislative action ministries, human rights work, chaplain residencies, denominational vacancies, and internships. I will be working as an intern for International Bridges to Justice after I submit a grant proposal to the Unitarian Universalist Funding Panel to start a program connecting Unitarian Universalists with ways to prevent torture worldwide. My experience at Meadville took me to Suzuka, Japan, where I studied Shinto to Phoenix, Arizona, where I presented with faculty at Justice General Assembly about multi-cultural work in congregations. Even though I live in Omaha, Nebraska.  Meadville Lombard is oriented to the future, centered on progressive theology, and teaches what ministers need to know today. Looking back, I’m in awe of all I’ve learned, and looking forward, I know what to do with what I’ve learned – thanks to Meadville Lombard.

CPE From a Student’s Perspective

Jill Sunde, a student at Meadville Lombard Theological School, reflects on her time spent in CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education).

Jill Sunde during Fall Convocation

Jill Sunde during Fall Convocation

I completed my CPE in August of 2012. It was almost a year ago that I left New Hampshire, my current home, to drive across country with my mother back to the home of my childhood, and most of my adult life, in Seattle, WA. There is an old saying “you can never go home” – this is not the case for me. Now, more than ever, my spouse and I are looking forward to returning to the West Coast. What better way to see how I have changed? How the reformed me interacts with the old places?

For the summer I stayed with a dear friend, who, kindly, redid a room for me and made me feel at home. He treated me like family. We had Sunday morning breakfast, dinner during the week, a variety of movies, “The Family Guy,” and “Big Bang Theory.” These all proved to be excellent ways to decompress after a shift or on-call. Seattle, though changed, was still familiar – the one North/South Freeway, the traffic, the chilly June, and warm August. Swedish Hospital was my home for CPE. The medical campus included three other sites that we were required to cover when on-call. Having my car was a perk and the hospital provided parking.

Two weeks before CPE I received a phone call, the original supervisor was replaced with another supervisor whom I was now speaking with. She sounded nice enough on the phone and assured me that she would have selected me. The first week I met my colleagues, a group of people that traveled from all over the country and hailed from diverse areas. I soon found that our faiths were as diverse as our hometowns and included Unitarian Universalist, Swedish Borgen, United Church of Christ, two Catholic Seminaries, a Rabbi, and an Evangelical retired physician. By the end first week we learned we are not “students” but “adult learners.” We are not simply students waiting to be taught, at CPE we were taking ownership of learning.

The second week we were “on the floor.” It was my first day as chaplain. I could not go into a room alone. I did have the ministerial presence, to knock and say “Hi I am…” without hand holding, but what else? Later the on-call staff came down and said a family on my floor needed a chaplain. The patient was dying; her son and daughters requested a chaplain for a prayer. Crisis management abd being ready to pray – this I knew.

The children gathered around, I said a prayer and asked them to recall memories. It was with laughter they all agreed if she did not see their father in heaven, they would understand, he left her to raise them alone. I was a Chaplain. I was able to pray when needed. I would walk up to a door, know my own introduction, knock and go into any room tomorrow. I would be ready for the day to day tomorrow. For now my shift was over.