2021 Annual Award for Distinguished Service to the Cause of Unitarian Universalism: Rev. Mr. Barb Greve

Presented by the Unitarian Universalist Association to the Rev. Mr. Barb Greve

The Rev. Mr. Barb grew up a Unitarian Universalist (UU) in a family firmly committed to this faith. He grew to understand Unitarian Universalism both as a lay leader and through the experience of his mother, a Director of Religious Education, and her colleagues. His calling to this faith has been varied and significant. Few things he has invested in have failed to thrive and change. There is much in our faith, in youth leadership, transgender and queer inclusion, religious education, and institutional support that Barb has quietly and consistently had a hand in. Everything he has done has improved the lives of Unitarian Universalists.

Barb’s leadership began early when he served his congregation as a Religious Education (RE) teacher, a youth leader, and, eventually, when he was a young adult, as a member of the Governing Board. His mother’s life in professional religious leadership influenced and inspired him. As a youngster he was mentored by beloved UU laity, religious professionals (some ordained and some not), volunteer committee members, and RE teachers across the generations. Barb has now served as a mentor to countless Unitarian Universalists (UUs) of all ages, starting as a mentor to youth when he was a young adult. Over the course of his life thus far, he has served on the congregational, district, and national levels. That leadership and his institutional commitment has led him to serve in many ways over the last 35 years.

To be honest, Barb has served in too many leadership roles to count. There are his roles as President of the North Atlantic Liberal Religious Educators Association (LREDA) chapter and Chair of the board of Starr King School for the Ministry, and co-founder of both the Guild of Interim Religious Educators and TRUUsT (Transgender Religious professional Unitarian Universalists Together), our organization of trans UU religious professionals. There’s his work as a dean at Starr Island’s Lifespan Religious Education Conference, where he served as a life preserver, a catalyst, a compassionate shoulder, and a thoughtful companion, and his years working at the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), where his efforts resulted in adding the “T” to the Office of Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Concerns, the Welcoming Congregation Program, and the denomination’s justice work, and where he challenged the institution to "think beyond the gender binary." There’s his work in congregations as a religious educator, a consultant, a Beyond Categorical Thinking trainer, and more. And of course, there’s his most recent service as Co-Moderator of the UUA, shaping a new shared leadership model in concert with others, under difficult circumstances, and in so doing moving us all forward.

It’s impossible to overstate the impact that Barb has had on this faith through his steadfast commitment, leadership, and drive to help Unitarian Universalism embody its ideals and become the religion it is called to become. He models what it means to hold true, to give selflessly, and to never stop working to dismantle oppression in all its forms. His skills as a mentor, trainer, religious educator, facilitator, chaplain, and bylaws nerd have likely touched every single person listening in today in ways that even he may never know, through the hundreds (if not thousands) of trainings he’s done, the committees he’s served on, and the leaders he has coached and helped create space for.

The Rev. Mr. Barb Greve's commitment and care are evident in all he does; his current work as a hospice chaplain only serves to underscore his embodiment of a faith that raised him to become and to be his authentic self. It comes with no surprise that he has done this ministry under the most extreme circumstances with recognition and distinction from his employer.

His great gift of love for this faith is one that he shares widely, to create space for all of us to grow into, and to be, our most authentic selves—both as individuals and as a religion. He seeks to love others into being, as he was loved into being. I cannot imagine this faith without him in it, and I can’t wait to see where his leadership will take us next. It gives me the greatest pleasure to thank you and honor you for your distinguished service, Rev. Mr. Barb Greve.