SS: The “Book of Bob”

Dr. Nik Richers in an email: “I am still trying to decipher your stance on religion, humanism, and these sermons …  Some day I hope to figure out the Book of Bob (BOB).  :).” Nik and I haven’t met in the real world yet, only via electronic messaging. Some day we will tip a couple of pints and sort all of this out. In the meantime . . .

Here are links to two of the many talks I have given at the Nanaimo Unitarian Fellowship. (a very friendly place by the way)

  • Grow a Soul

    • “One of the attractions of the UU approach to religion and life is caught in the assertion that divinity and spirit are to be found not through blind faith but through finding and sending down roots to the deepest part of one’s unique self. As is true in botany, those roots spread out into the wider community and can nourish us and give us a healthy life. How do we know when we are living in the best place for those roots to grow? In so much as we do indeed “grow a soul” we should consider carefully the garden in which that soul  grows.”

    Tell me a story  Bob_preach

Defy Hate


The Fahs Collaborative at Meadville Lombard has developed a curriculum as part of the Unitarian Universalist Association‘s Congregational Action Project accompanying the film’s  release.  Our new curriculum, We Who Defy Hate: An Interfaith Preparation for Social Justice Action, aims to build bridges between communities of different faiths, so together, they can defy hate, fear and discrimination, and take action for freedom, justice and solidarity.

It is a companion discussion series for Ken Burns’s PBS documentary, Defying the Nazis: The Sharps’ War.

The film features an American Unitarian minister and his wife, Waitstill and Martha Sharp, who saved scores of lives across Europe during the WWII. When most Americans were turning a blind eye to the growing social injustice and totalitarian threat in Europe, the Unitarian Universalist Association was committed to saving as many people as possible.

We Who Defy Hate curriculum was developed by Dr. Jenice View, Social Justice Educator, in a Curriculum Incubator at the Fahs Collaborative, through generous funding from Artemis Joukowsky III and the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock, Manhasset, NY.

The version of the flaming chalice currently u...

The version of the flaming chalice currently used as the logo of the Unitarian Universalist Association. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Dear Robert,
     By now you must be used to my frequent boasts about Meadville Lombard’s amazing students and the equally exceptional faculty who guide them on their vocational paths.  I am ever impressed by the qualities of intellect and spirit they bring to our treasured Unitarian Universalism. But Meadville Lombard is also providing innovative and effective education for a wider world of Unitarianism Universalism and others who share our values. Let me give you just two of our most recent examples:
Global Fellowship for Multifaith and Multicultural Engagement
     Last month, six religious leaders from three different faith traditions in six countries arrived in Chicago for a month of classroom studies, workshops and informal conversations.  Along with Meadville Lombard students, faculty, and staff, they took up the topics of religious practices in Kalkota and Japan, interfaith challenges in Azerbaijan, children’s rights in Uganda, the on-going armed conflict in Central African Republic, and women empowerment in Bangladesh
     Barwende Sane from Central Africa Republic, Nageeba Hassan from Uganda, Rafiz Manafov from Azerbaijan, Rashida Khanam from Bangladesh, Suman Barua from India, and Tetsuya Higuchi from Japan came into Meadville Lombard’s “global classroom” to hone the skills and tools needed to form interfaith partnerships, and thereby become most effective in leading social change and peacebuilding in their home countries. During the first week of July, Professors Nicole Kirk and Mike Hogue guided them in the classroom, where they explored the global religious landscape through theology, practice, space, and objects.  The following week, they learned with Dean of Students Darrick Jackson how the art of improvisation can enhance ministry and social engagement. Their time in Chicago ended with a weeklong workshop in Interfaith Dialogue and Engagement.
     Matriculated Meadville Lombard students Robert LaVallee and Jenny Peek joined the group for structured conversations and exercises that allowed them to examine the role of religious leaders in promoting equality, justice, and compassion, and to explore how spiritually grounded projects help to build peace.
Baha’i House of Worship
Front Row: Rafiz Manafov, Rashida Khanam, Baha’i Temple guide, Barwende Sane, Jenny Peek Middle row: Tetsuya Higuchi, Karen Hernandez, Facilitator of Interfaith Dialogue Workshop, Claudia Espinel,  Director of International Faith Formation, Suman Barua Back Row: Nageeba Hassan, Bob LaValle
    I am grateful to the individual donors whose expansive worldview and generous contributions helped to nurture this program from its inception several years ago and have grown it into one of our educational staples. During their time here, this group made an impact on every one of us who had them in class or had the opportunity to talk with them. It was a July in which Meadville Lombard greatly enhanced the education of our own students AND took our Unitarian Universalist values to the larger world!
Crossing Boundaries: Multi-faith Leadership in the New America

     Then, in early August, thirteen lay leaders from around the United States, 11 Unitarian Universalists, a Presbyterian and an Episcopalian, joined Roger Doebke, MAR ’14, and me for our first ever laity-only class, an intense, weeklong course held on the program-packed

Roger Doebke and Lee Barker

campus of The Chautauqua Institution, located in western New York. Predicated on the Meadville Lombard understanding that we “act our way into new ways of thinking,” Roger and I designed this course to allow each participant to begin to acquire the skills, resources and perspectives necessary for she or he [sic]  to become a leader in interfaith engagement in his or her own community.

     During five days of rigorous study, our intrepid students were immersed in a variety of worship experiences from the traditions of Islam, Judaism, Catholicism, Unitarian Universalism and so many others, while attending special lectures from leaders of diverse faith traditions who are deeply engaged in multi-faith leadership, and, finally, working on their specific plans to create interfaith partnerships back home.

Crossing Borders at the Chautauqua Institution
   In all our work, Meadville Lombard continues to find innovative ways of widening the impact of our life-changing Unitarian Universalist education and this week was just one more example.  (Crossing Borders was offered as a for-credit course to seminarians last summer and will be offered again to M.Div. and M.A. students in 2016.)
     All our students understand how Meadville Lombard is shaping the future of Unitarian Universalism and the larger world – and, as a result, greater and greater numbers of them are joining our learning community.  This fall 33 people will become first year students.   On Monday, 31 of them will arrive in Chicago as we launch our Community Studies cohort for 2015-16. I am very pleased to report that 23% of our new class identify as people of color.
     The global perception of boarders is changing. In this age of burgeoning technology, heightened political tensions, stressed congregations, and religious and racial violence, all of our students, whether new or returning, are aspiring to lead Unitarian Universalism across the borders that separate people and communities. They hope to lead UUism to a new future and they know that no school is as effective in training them to do so as Meadville Lombard.
    Please consider making a gift to support Meadville Lombard. Help us to fulfill our mission to shape the future of our faith.
Lee New Headshot


Lee Barker Signature

Rev. Dr. Lee Barker, DMin ’78, DD ’01

President and Professor of Ministry

Meadville Lombard Theological School