Keeping the Faith Award

to honor those who have worked to keep Unitarian Universalism alive in their community and who touch the lives of congregation and community members in a positive way

KenDeffenbacherKen Deffenbacher
First Unitarian Church of Omaha, Omaha, Nebraska

Ken Deffenbacher has been a hard-working team member and a wise and caring leader in the congregation since he joined in 1970. He has served on the church board, led the Capital Trust, chaired the Green Sanctuary Team, and taught in the religious education program. Active in the community Sierra Club, Ken has lobbied on behalf of environmental issues, helped develop the community gardens, and represented the church at Earth Day activities. An articulate, thoughtful person, Ken has been a model of someone who lives his UU principles daily, in the church and in the larger community.

Mary Lou WernerMary Lou Werner
Unitarian Universalist Church of Willmar, Minnesota

Mary Lou Werner has served as chair of her UU congregation since 2001. She has also worked on the Program Committee and Long-Range Planning Committee, and she visits with members who can’t attend meetings, provides activities for new members, and represents the church in community activities. Mary Lou is active in civic organizations that work for better water quality and effective political debates. Mary Lou is a caring person who listens to all and guides her congregation to consensus as they make their decisions and look to the future. She lives her UU values in her congregation and in the community as well, touching lives in a positive way wherever she goes.


Unsung Unitarian Universalist Award

to honor those Unitarian Universalists whose actions inspire, support and express Unitarian Universalism

Bill RohdeBill Rohde
Pilgrim House Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, Arden Hills, Minnesota

A founding member, Bill Rohde has given forty years of musical and organizational leadership to the Pilgrim House UU Fellowship. His musical skill and enthusiasm have ensured an ongoing music program that is central to the congregation. He created the Pilgrim House songbook and served as pianist and music leader for programs throughout the years. He has encouraged others to sing or play an instrument for services and is especially appreciated for forming the Pilgrim House chorale that sings for special events. Bill has also taken Fellowship leadership roles, serving as Board Chair, leader of the program committee, and organizer of adult education classes. Bill’s positive approach and enthusiasm have inspired his congregation to call him the “soul” of the Pilgrim House UU Fellowship, and he is well-deserving of the Unsung UU Award.


Social Justice Award – Adult

to pay tribute to those individuals who witness to the ideals of social justice and responsibility so important to our Unitarian Universalist heritage

Dr. Erwin KlaasDr. Erwin Klaas
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Ames, Iowa

Professor Emeritus of Animal Ecology at Iowa State University, Dr. Erwin Klaas is a tireless protector of the environment. He leads the Green Sanctuary movement at his church, heads the environmental concerns section of the Social Justice Committee and has organized programs on environmental issues. Erv has also made a lifetime commitment to environmental issues in the larger community through his work in establishing a 430-acre park in Ames, preserving wildlife and safe water, and by recruiting and organizing volunteers to manage a prairie area. Erv’s unselfish contributions to the environment through his unceasing work and effective leadership have made his visions a reality. He has also empowered others to be interested and involved. The people of Iowa today and those in the future will continue to thank Erv Klaas for his dedication and work.


Betty Gorshe Heritage Award

to recognize those who have made a significant contribution to preserving, understanding and celebrating our Unitarian Universalist history is presented to

Sesquicentennial Steering CommitteeThe Sesquicentennial Steering Committee
First Universalist Church Minneapolis, Minnesota

The Sesquicentennial Steering Committee has done much more than coordinate a sequence of celebrations. Working three years in advance of the 2009 anniversary, this group and its allies have achieved the following: a book containing over thirty short articles and essays; a commemorative DVD; a Web site dedicated to the history of the congregation; collection and cataloguing of archives, transferring the oldest to the state historical society . In addition, a “History Hounds” group is now collecting additional materials. Significantly, the congregation’s history is now being integrated into its religious education program. First Universalist now has its history better documented than ever, and has an infrastructure to ensure that this will remain the case. The Heritage and Archives Committee considers the Sesquicentennial Steering Committee’s work a model for the creation of congregational history.


Ellie Morton Award

to pay tribute to a religious educator in Prairie Star District who has made a District-wide outstanding contribution to religious education.

Ben WallaceBen Wallace
First Unitarian Church, Omaha, Nebraska

Ben Wallace has shared generously of his time, talents and enthusiasm in support of religious education for nearly fifteen years. For the past four to five years he has taken a leadership role in religious education for the youth of both First Unitarian and Second Unitarian Churches in Omaha through their joint youth group. He is active at both the local and district level, planning and organizing religious education activities for both youth and young adults. Ben has a natural affinity and talent for this work, to the gratitude of many youth and their parents. Ben contributes a sense of energy, enthusiasm and a “can do” attitude to the religious education activities and the other church activities he is involved in. His work is clearly appreciated by all.


President’s Award

for Outstanding Service to Prairie Star District

John BlevinsJohn Blevins
All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church, Kansas City, Missouri

This award is given in recognition of eleven years of service to the Prairie Star District as Secretary to the PSD Board and as ex officio member of the PSD Board as UUA Trustee. His leadership and support in assisting the PSD Board in its transition to Policy Governance and in re-imagining a new role for the district are deeply appreciated. He is thanked for his commitment and hard work on behalf of our liberal faith.