More than 35 years ago, the Shinn Service began to honor the memory of Barbara Shinn and her commitment to social action. Barbara was an active member of First Parish and chaired what was then known as the Social Responsibility Committee. She was a respected educator and a leader in the community and had a passion for teaching children with disabilities. She displayed great courage in the face of a debilitating illness, arthritis of the spine. She was the granddaughter of the Universalist minister Dr. Quillen Hamilton Shinn, who founded the Ferry Beach camp in Maine.
The original Shinn Conference fund was set up by her sisters after Barbara’s death in 1976. Each year the Social Justice Committee coordinates this service and our sermon speaker to address a matter of public concern. While the original funds have been depleted, the committee has chosen to continue to fund and continue the tradition of the Shinn Service. It is one of the ways that, as a church community, We Live our Faith.
Over the years, we have heard Shinn speakers talk about a variety of social justice issues including anti-racism, the cost of capital punishment, the work of the UU Urban Ministry, the war in Iraq, climate change, the Beyond the 11th Foundation, marriage equality, ethical eating, and economic justice.
Our Most Recent Speaker
In November 2013, our Shinn speaker was the Rev. Chris Antal, minister of the UU Congregation at Rock Tavern in New York. He was an Army chaplain in Afghanistan in 2012, where he led the UU Congregation at the Kandahar Airfield military base (http://www.uuworld.org/news/articles/284043.shtml). He delivered a sermon there on Veteran’s Day in 2012 titled “A Veteran’s Day Confession for America”.
Chris is the director of faith community development for Soldier’s Heart, a nonprofit organization that tends to the emotional, moral, and spiritual wounds of veterans, their families, and communities. He also serves as a community minister with the Church of the Larger Fellowship, an online UU spiritual community.