2023 Annual Award for Distinguished Service to the Cause of Unitarian Universalism: Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt

Presented by the UUA to the Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt

The Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt has served Unitarian Universalism for many years in many ways. We are deeply grateful for her dedication and leadership. She has been a special leader and teacher through changing times and needs.

Born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, Rev. McNatt is a graduate of Yale University and Drew Theological Seminary. She also has been teaching since 2005 at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, Yale Divinity School, and Starr King School for the Ministry. She taught Unitarian Universalist history and polity since 2005 at Union Theological Seminary and Yale Divinity School. Her teaching at Starr King began in 2014 and continues to the present.

An editor and widely anthologized writer for more than 20 years before answering the call to ordained ministry, The Rev. McNatt is a former editor at The New York Times Book Review; the author of three books, including her memoir, Unafraid of the Dark; a former contributing columnist for Beliefnet.com, a former commentator on MSNBC; a contributing editor to UU World, the magazine of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), and a cultural critic whose work appears regularly in The Huffington Post, The New York Times Book Review, Essence. and other print and online publications. Her current projects include continuing research into the multiracial liberal religious coalitions of early 20th century Chicago.

Her years of service to Unitarian Universalism have included work as a member of the Committee on Urban Concerns and Ministry; the Task Force for Strategic Options for Beacon Press; chair of the Board of Trustees of Starr King School for the Ministry; the UUA Panel on Theological Education; and the UUA Board of Trustees. She also served as a faculty member of the 2008 International Council of Unitarian Universalists Leadership Training Conference in Nairobi, Kenya—the first ever such gathering on the African Continent.

Her social justice work included service as the convener of OccupyFaithNYC, a multi-faith economic justice organization founded in the spirit of Occupy Wall Street, and a co-convener of Moral Monday NYC, a multi-faith social justice group inspired by the Rev. Dr. William Barber. In 2002, she helped to found the Unitarian Universalist Trauma Response Ministry, created to provide culturally sensitive liberal religious responses to mass disaster and other significant trauma; and, served as Chair of Disaster Chaplaincy Services of New York, the multi-faith disaster spiritual care service for the metropolitan New York area.

Our movement’s gratitude to the Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt is broad and deep. She has demonstrated deep commitment to justice work, service, teaching, stewardship of the Association, and love of our faith. Rosemary is an extraordinary religious leader. It is with great joy that we honor her for all that she does for Unitarian Universalism, and to thank you for her superb service over many years.