Barrett Foundation Funds New Director of Worship and Music Resources
Richard and Elaine Barrett are Unitarian Universalists (UUs) with a long tradition of giving to the Association. For over twenty years, their family foundation (the Barrett Foundation) has also been supporting various educational institutions to which they have personal connections, as well as programs which deal with social justice, environmental concerns and animal welfare.
From a long heritage of Universalists, Richard Barrett believes that there are many individuals who benefit from being a part of the Unitarian Universalist community—and that our congregations draw new members when a church has a vibrant congregation engaged in worship and the Ceremonies of Life, and celebrates these things with rousing music.
Because of this belief, the Barretts awarded in 2008 a grant to help fund a new full time staff position at the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA)—a Director of Worship and Music Resources. This individual will be responsible for, among other things, developing new UU worship materials, serving as a clearinghouse for “best practices” in Unitarian Universalist worship, offering programs for clergy and other UU professionals in worship and music development, and training lay leaders in worship arts.
Richard Barrett is especially inspired by his grandfather, the Rev. Otto S. Raspe, who was a Universalist minister serving both a church in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and a summer parish in Barnard, Vermont. In 1922, the Iowa Universalist Convention published Rev. Raspe’s piece titled the Five Pillars in the Temple of Universalism, through which he provided a historical reflection on the power and meaning of Universalist doctrine and shed light on what beliefs Universalists then held in common.
In certain ways, the Barretts’ gift will enable the UUA to honor the work of Rev. Raspe by bringing some uniformity to worship resources, and providing congregations with resources and ideas for incorporating a new language of reverence in worship—letting people know not only that we are a welcoming community, but bringing clarity to what it is we believe.
This new staff member will play a part in enhancing the quality of UU music programs, and encourage the use of newer hymns with a present day appeal, coupled with relevant worship sources, with the objective of inspiring new and younger individuals to come to church and be active in their church communities.
Richard Barrett also believes that to keep a congregation strong, its facilities must be well maintained. Every year, the Barretts give to the congregation in Barnard, Vermont, to help preserve their building. Last year, the Foundation funded major renovations to the sanctuary of the UU Congregation in Westborough, Massachusetts, where Richard’s sister, Phyllis and nonagenarian mother, Amalia (Rev. Raspe’s daughter) are members. At the dedication of the new building in October 2007, several of Richard’s cousins, who are talented musicians, lent their talents to the celebrations, and the Rev. Beth Graham from the UUA preached a sermon titled Want to Come Inside? Richard expects that the new facilities will continue to invite people to attend, and ultimately help to increase the congregation’s membership.
The profound generosity of Richard and Elaine Barrett has impacted countless individuals and institutions across the nation over the years, and their most recent generous gift to the UUA will surely transform the culture of worship and music across our whole family of congregations.