Dear Ones of First UU,
It is with a heavy heart that we write to tell you of the death of Rev. Dr. Carolyn Owen-Towle, beloved minister emerita of this congregation. Carolyn experienced an inoperable aortic tear late last week and her status declined rapidly. Tom gathered the family and brought Carolyn home with hospice for her final days. She died on Monday evening, surrounded by love. Tom is doing as well as can be expected and he expresses his appreciation for our love and prayers, welcomes our emails and cards, but asks that we hold off on calls or visits for the time being.
Carolyn served this congregation as co-lead minister with her husband Tom (Rev. Dr. Tom Owen-Towle) from 1978 to 2002. During that time, this congregation flourished and grew, with highlights including providing a safe space for members of the LGBTQ community, offering care and support to people living with HIV, and being a model for other congregations in living our social justice values in the larger world. It was during Tom and Carolyn’s time that First UU celebrated our 125th anniversary. In 1993, Carolyn ran for the presidency of our UUA, only the second woman to do so, and she nearly won (losing by fewer than 100 votes). Although the election loss was disappointing, First UU was delighted to have Carolyn continue her co-ministry with Tom until their retirement in 2002. After retiring from parish ministry, Carolyn was free to pursue more fully her love of art, including serving as President of the Board of the Mingei International Folk Art & Design Museum in San Diego.
A more complete summary of Carolyn’s considerable accomplishments will be forthcoming as we celebrate her life and mourn her death. For now, let us say that she served this congregation and our UU faith well. She will be dearly missed by all who knew her but most especially by her beloved Tom and by their children and grandchildren.
We know that this is a huge loss for our faith community. Rev. Kristen will be holding space this evening (Tuesday, October 24) for anyone who would like to gather quietly to light a candle, offer a prayer, and remember our beloved Carolyn. You can join Rev. Kristen in-person in room 323 of the Welcome Center from 5 pm - 6 pm, or on zoom from 7 pm - 8 pm: https://bit.ly/3QcQbxV. We will offer additional times in the coming week with more details to come soon. You can also connect with a Lay Minister who can offer a listening presence by contacting the pastoral care line: 619-298-9993.
We will extinguish the chalice for Carolyn this Sunday, October 29th and there will be a memorial service honoring Carolyn as soon as it can be arranged. Let us hold one another in love as we process the sadness of this sudden loss.
Carolyn lived a rich life and made a difference in the lives of so many. She made the world more beautiful. We will miss her, and we send love and a prayer for comfort and peace to our beloved Tom.
Peace and love to all of you,
Rev. Justine and Rev. Kristen
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