On Tuesday, January 10, six staff members of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) were awarded with the United States Secretary of Defense’s office of Employer Support to the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) Patriot Award, an award given to individuals who have shown dedicated support for an employee to serve in the U.S. Military Guard or Reserve.
As a religious organization, the UUA is exempt from many aspects of the Uniformed Services Employment and Re-Employment Rights Act (USERRA), which mandates that employers accommodate their employee reservists. However, the UUA is one of the few religious organizations that voluntarily follow the law, working to ensure that military chaplains have a job to return to after deployment and allowing time off for their stateside military duties. After receiving such support from the UUA, the Rev. David Pyle, UUA Congregational Life staff and Army Reserve chaplain, made the recommendation for the award.
"When I joined the UUA staff, I did not know whether I would be able to continue my service as a Reserve Military Chaplain,” Pyle said. “When I was told that the Association was choosing to provide those protections even when they did not have to, it made my continued military ministry possible. The support the Association has shown for my ministry has been wonderful. I hope other religious traditions and our congregations follow the example of our Association."
Those who received the award included the Rev. Peter Morales, president; the Rev. Harlan Limpert, chief operating officer; the Rev. Scott Tayler, director of Congregational Life; the Rev. Sarah Lammert, director of Ministries and Faith Development; the Rev. Megan Foley, Congregational Life consultant; and Rob Molla, director of Human Resources. The award was presented by Paul Desmond, director of training, ESGR Massachusetts.
Pyle said the UUA also received the award in part because of its resources for welcoming military families. The UUA recently created new guidelines for Unitarian Universalist congregations for ministers serving in the U.S. Military Reserves or Guard.
“Military ministry is one way that we ‘show up’ as Unitarian Universalist ministers called to serve the greater world,” the UUA website states. “Our military chaplains also help Unitarian Universalism engage more deeply with military service members, their families as well as veterans.”
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