The Unitarian Universalist congregation in Spokane is small in size - 425 adult members in the Inland Northwest - but enormous in its ability to make news and impact the community.
As a faith, one of its fundamental principles is the call to social activism. While many churches take a quiet stance on one or two social issues, Unitarians are not shy.
From homosexual rights to the Persian Gulf War, Spokane Unitarians have been in the limelight, leading protests and calling for reforms in the government and in society itself.
That’s the reason behind the growth of the church both locally and nationwide, said the Rev. Linda Whittenberg.
“A large number of people today are looking for an organization willing to take a stand and deal with the hard issues,” she said. “Everything we do is to back up our belief in the worth and dignity of every person and to support the democratic process.”
Several non-profit associations are among the Unitarian Universalist legacy in Spokane:
The Single Parent Outreach Connection - An organization that helps single parents find jobs to sustain their families.
The Gay and Lesbian Resource Committee - A group of volunteers who provide information about services, events and support for homosexuals in Spokane.
The Hanford Education Action League - Founded by the Rev. William Houff, HEAL is a watchdog group that monitors the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.
The Central America Committee - A standing committee at the church that monitors the political freedoms of individuals living in Central America, often sending individual observers.
The Social Justice Committee - Also a standing committee, this group strives to ensure the church is a welcoming congregation for all minorities.
Fighting anti-gay rights initiatives - The Unitarian Universalist Church is a local meeting place for activists opposed to anti-gay rights legislation.
The Unitarian Universalist Church also has been connected to many other causes.
It was the only church in Spokane to declare itself a haven for military personnel who object to the Persian Gulf War.
Members have campaigned to legalize physician-assisted suicide and ensure that women have the right to abortion.