In 1968, Betty Boone became the first female president of First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Diego. As only the second woman to graduate from the University of San Diego School of Law she was truly a trailblazer. “I went to San Diego State University to enroll in a Master’s program, and while I was there I just happened to hear someone mention that there was a law school at USD. So I took the kids back home, called up the law school and found out they were enrolling that night!” For the next five years, Betty worked full time as legal secretary while attending law school at night. “I started with 78 classmates, all men except me. By midterm we were down to 28."
A prolific writer, lecturer, abolitionist and reformer, Harper wrote many poems and novels with anti-slavery themes. A writer for the African Methodist Episcopal church and member of the Unitarian church, her activism combined African American civil rights with women's rights. One of her major concerns was the brutal treatment Black women—including Harper herself—encountered on public transportation.
"We are all bound up together in one great bundle of humanity, and society cannot trample on the weakest and feeblest of its members without receiving the curse in its own soul." ~ Frances Ellen Watkins Harper
At the time of her ordination in 1978, Carolyn joined a group of less than 60 female Unitarian Universalist ministers in the United States. A pioneer in many ways, Carolyn was the first woman President of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee and the first woman President of the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association. After her undergraduate degree in Art she completed a Doctor of Divinity degree at Meadville Lombard Theological School and served as the co-minister, with her husband Tom, of First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Diego for 22 years. Carolyn has also been an unwavering champion of LGBTQIA rights. She offered pastoral care to the gay community from the earliest days of the AIDS crisis, performed civil unions for same sex couples when acceptance in any kind of church was a rarity and championed the rights of transgender people.
By Maureen McNair
In June of 2019, four or five congregants attending the annual meeting in the Meeting House wrote down that their vision for the future of First UU included a food pantry or a soup kitchen. At the time, the primary concerns on the minds of most people at that meeting were things such as how we would respond to the offer from UCSD Medical Center to purchase our Hillcrest campus; whether we would expand our music, dance, and art programs; and, requests that we find more ways to enjoy meals together. I didn't believe those few requests to start a food pantry would make it into the top five goals of the new strategic plan the congregation was providing input for. But, those requests reflected such an acute and immediate need that, as a newly elected member of the Board of Trustees, I thought we should do something about them.
Over the course of several years, First Church undertook an ambitious plan to completely renovate the central meeting center. Now called the Welcome Center, this shining new building hosts events, ceremonies, workshops, services, a full commercial kitchen, a library, meeting rooms and many activities.
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