2020 History Research Prize

The Unitarian Universalist History and Heritage Society is delighted to announce the winner of our 2020 History Research Prize for Future Leaders: Lóre Stevens, for her essay, “‘Strong at the Broken Places’: A History of the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashville, 1992-2019.” 

Stevens is a queer Latinx atheist, a second-year MDiv candidate at Harvard Divinity School, and a member of the congregation that is the subject of her essay. Her analysis of one congregation’s grappling with secrecy and transparency in the face of ministerial misconduct is a historical account that affects ministry in this moment. Even as the UU Ministers’ Association is revising its bylaws to make ministers more accountable to one another and to their congregations, stories of misconduct continue to be actively repressed by ministers and laypeople. As Stevens points out through first-hand observation and through detailed sources, clergy sexual and emotional abuse must be uncovered, brought to light, and recorded in order for it to stop and for healing to begin. We applaud her for being brave enough to present this paper for the record. 

This year’s contest was highly competitive, with outstanding entries from seminarians from several different schools, with topics that creatively link UU history with Jewish, queer, African American, and Korean American history. Many contestants, including Stevens, conducted groundbreaking research on how national and denominational issues played out at the level of local congregations. We commend them all for their active commitment to putting historical research at the service of our movement’s ongoing transformation. We are also grateful to our outstanding panel of judges for their hard work and careful attention to each entry.

Next year’s UUHHS prize will be for the three best new entries for the Dictionary of Unitarian Universalist Biography. Contestants will need to select their biographical subjects in consultation with the DUUB’s editor; details of this process will be forthcoming on the UUHHS website in the fall.

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Jay Kiskel has written 4 articles