Unsung Unitarian Universalist Award

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

Cheri Cody
Second Unitarian Church of Omaha

Every congregation needs a “Jill of all trades” who is willing to take on the many tasks needed to keep a congregation viable. In every year since 1977 Cheri Cody has served as a leader on committees and boards. She has served on everything from music to treasurer. During that same time she has served on numerous PSD committees and councils. Her congregation feels that she is a natural leader with an innate core of knowledge which has been strengthened by vast and successful range of experience. It is largely through her efforts that the church has a large, active social justice committee. In the greater Omaha community she lives her UU principles through organizations such as Omaha Together One Community and The Nebraska Women’s Political Caucus and The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.

Keeping the Faith Awards

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

Lucinda Scholten
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Ames

Cindy Scholten is an extraordinarily committed, energetic, and effective advocate for UU principles. Through a broad range of volunteer efforts within her congregation and in the larger community she has demonstrated her belief in justice and the inherent worth and dignity of every person. In particular her efforts to make new people feel welcomed and valued have served to swell the membership of the Ames congregation. She has maintained the “wayside pulpit,” overseen the annual membership count, coordinated and taught new-member classes, and remembered the little details of welcome such as name tags, greeters, brochures, newsletter items, etc. In the Ames community she has volunteered in areas of health care, the arts, and education. By living her UU values in the community she has enhanced the image of Unitarian Universalism.

Judy Foster
St Cloud Unitarian Universalist Fellowship

During her twenty-three years of involvement in the SCUUF Judy Foster has served in critical positions during times of transition. Her leadership, keeping the UU principles at the forefront, has guided and strengthened her congregation. She has served as chair of the Religious Education, Program, and Long Range Planning committees and been President of the board. She also led her congregation through the Welcoming Congregation process. She is involved on boards and committees at SCSU where she is an English professor. At SCSU she is know for working to improve relationships among divergent groups, and for promoting diversity, affirmative action and women’s issues. Currently she is an advisor to the UU campus ministry program and is a liaison between the two UU congregations in St. Cloud. In both of these capacities she is helping to keep Unitarian Universalism alive in the community.

Heather Ventura
Gaia Community, Kansas City

The job of congregation treasurer can be a difficult one. This is especially true for new small churches and fellowships that struggle with the nuts and bolts of organization. However, with energy and passion Heather Ventura has shepherded her small congregation through difficult financial times. Thanks to her the congregation was able to move to a new home and begin renting space -- and even have money in the bank! She stepped in and imposed order where there had been none. In the Kansas City community she incorporates her UU Principles in her day to day work as a manger of Section 8 housing by showing respect for all cultures and religions. She also serves other community organizations such as The Salvation Army “Pie Auction.”

Social Justice Award

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

Youth Award

BethAnne Vasel Freund
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Eau Claire

In the insular life of a small rural town it takes a great deal of courage to stand up and speak out against the prevailing mores. This is especially difficult if the person speaking out is a child against the adult leaders around her. BethAnne Vasel Freund did just this when she chose to organize and found a chapter of SAGA (Straight and Gay Alliance) at her high school. In spite of facing strong opposition from the School District Superintendent and other influential adults she persisted in attaining this goal. Although she does not seek the lime light, she does not shy away from it either, if it will forward a social justice ideal. We applaud her courage and look forward to her future as a champion of social justice.

Adult Award

Mark Sanderson
All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church, Sioux Falls

Some people have lives that are defined by their commitment to social justice. Mark Sanderson is one such person. From his anti-war activities in the '60s he went on to work with the Girls Club of Sioux Falls where he designed a program for youth to help them through troubled times. Following that he was a prison educator, a job which helped him gain an understanding of the native cultures of South Dakota. He has been involved with the Death Penalty Task Force to eliminate the death penalty from South Dakota. For a long time he has been a member of the South Dakota Peace and Justice Center, an interfaith networking organization that addresses social concerns. He is currently the All Souls UU coordinator for the Banquet meals program in Sioux Falls. He is also been long associated with the UUSC at the Prairie Star District level. Indeed, his is a life of social justice.

President’s Award

for Service and Leadership on behalf of Prairie Star District

Carol Jackson
First Universalist Church of Minneapolis


Ellie Morton Award

for outstanding work in religious education

Susan Randall
All Souls UU Church, Sioux Falls

Susan was recognized for 9+ years of dedication to religious education in her congregation. Susan is volunteer coordinator of religious education in her congregation.

Karen Kress
Blue Hills Fellowship, Rice Lake

Karen was recognized for 16 years of dedication to religious education in her congregation. Karen is volunteer coordinator of religious education in her congregation.