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The Gift of a Lifetime
It all started with a $50.00 contribution in 1981, the year when Brad Bradburd joined the Board of the Joseph Priestley District (JPD). Twenty-eight years later, Brad and Julie’s lifetime total giving to the Association tops the charts at well over 2 million dollars—a remarkable milestone in generosity. That this has all been in cash, and thus available to be utilized by the Association in the present, has been an extraordinary asset to Unitarian Universalism (UUism).
But it really started in the 1940s when Julie’s father in Wisconsin heard sermons by Rev. John Dietrich on the radio on Sunday mornings, broadcast from Minneapolis, MN. That’s when Julie learned about Unitarianism. Years later, in 1954, when she and Brad were getting married, they chose the First Unitarian Society in Madison, WI, for their wedding. That same year, the Bradburds moved to Chicago and joined the First Universalist Church of Chicago, which was nearer to their house than the Unitarian church. (So the Bradburds blended the Unitarian Universalist faiths in their lives before the faiths themselves merged!)
It was a small congregation, racially integrated, and aligned with their values—they were hooked! And as their family grew to include four kids, they became deeply engaged in the church. In 1974, they left Chicago and jumped into another community—the UU Church of the Restoration—when they moved to Philadelphia. Their new church was also small and racially integrated, and they came to feel right at home.
A few years later, in the late 1970s, Brad went to hear one of the then-candidates for the UUA Presidency. It was then that he realized there was a larger world of Unitarian Universalism “out there.” As Brad puts it, “up until then, we didn’t really know and didn’t really care about the central office.” But upon hearing Rev. Paul Carnes talk about various issues regarding the need to strengthen our denomination, the Bradburds’ eyes were opened.
Soon thereafter, Brad joined the JPD Board. And after that, the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Board. And a few years later, he ran as the Association’s Financial Advisor, a role in which he served for 8 years. During that same time, Julie was involved in various UU committees and organizations, from their home church, to the Delaware Valley Area Council (a cluster of 17 UU congregations), to the International Association of Religious Freedom (IARF). Those are just some of the positions the Bradburds have held, for they are both still active volunteers in a variety of UU causes, three decades after their epiphany the night they heard Paul Carnes.
But as Julie and Brad have given of their time, they also have contributed generously to the Association financially. Since that first Friends gift in 1981, they have given to the Friends each and every year. In fact, sometimes they give more than one gift. And they have given to every Capital Campaign since the Visions for Growth initiative in 1986, along with various special appeals that speak to them as well.
Furthermore, the Bradburds were early donors to the Association’s five-year-old Umbrella Giving program. Working with Terry Sweetser and Beth Graham they fashioned a major cash gift to three entities near and dear to their hearts—the UUA, the UU Service Committee, and Meadville Lombard Theological School—making a significant impact on all three institutions with their visionary giving.
The Bradburds feel lucky to be in a position to contribute to the Association at this level. But why are they so generous to Unitarian Universalism—with their time, talents and treasure? “Because we’re true believers,” they say, without pause. “Because we’re seriously committed to this faith. And because it’s something we want to do.”
For that, our movement gives deep thanks.