WUURL’s March lunch meeting enjoyed a fascinating and informative program about the Revs. Mary Augusta Safford, Eleanor Gordon and other early members of 1U. Joy Dickinson and and Joan Erwin shared stories about Orlando and the Suffrage movement in Orlando and Florida and gave the group an opportunity to ask questions.
Worship Leaders: Rev. Margalie Belizaire / Judith Stein-Farrall / Aubrey Connely – Candelario / Linnea Nelson / Charles Connelly-Candelario / Charlotte Kendall / Wendy Derrow / Joan Nelson
Come meet, connect with and honor the Reverend Mary Augusta Safford.
Our Mary Safford Historical Marker
Our Spring Congregational Meeting truly made history on March 19, as we dedicated a heritage marker honoring the Rev. Mary Augusta Safford — leader in the fight for votes for women, Unitarian trailblazer, and early member of our church. Following a special reception, Orlando District 4 Commissioner Patty Sheehan spoke about the marker’s significance and the essential role of voting in our democracy. She then joined Rev. Margalie, guests, and 1U folks to unveil the marker and cheer our church’s long commitment to diversity, inclusion, and equality.
Commissioner Sheehan, who has represented our District 4 since 2000, is a trailblazer in her own right as Central Florida’s first openly gay elected official. Also representing the city were Jennifer Fritz-Hunter, Orlando’s historic preservation officer, and Kathleen Russell, the mayor’s special assistant for community collaboration. The event continued a Women’s History Month celebration that began March 7 with the unveiling of a sister marker at 37 N. Orange Ave. that honors Orlando as the birthplace of Florida’s Equal Suffrage Association in 1913. It also pays tribute to Safford as the association’s president.
Both Orlando markers are part of the National Votes for Women Trail, an initiative of the National Collaborative for Women’s History Sites, with funding from the William G. Pomeroy Foundation of Syracuse, New York. The Trail includes more than 200 markers across the nation as well as an online database containing more than 2,200 sites related to women’s suffrage (for more information, click here).
The Rev. Safford led women’s suffrage efforts in Florida for most of the decade before the passage of the 19th amendment in 1920. She also led the suffrage movement in Iowa. Her friend since childhood, the Rev. Eleanor Gordon, was our church’s founding minister. Both women, who were part of the famed Iowa Sisterhood, moved to Orlando because of their friendship with Caroline Groninger Gore, the wife of Orlando pioneer Mahlon Gore and the inspiration for Gore Hall’s name.
At the March 19 program, 1U member Joy Wallace Dickinson also talked about the marker’s use of the women’s suffrage colors of white, violet , and sunflower gold. You’ll find the Mary Safford marker on the Hampton Street side of the campus, near the sidewalk leading to Gore Hall and the Sanctuary. It’s a great reminder that our present has strong roots in the past.
In cooperation with the City of Orlando and the Orlando Mayor’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission, the Interfaith Council of Central Florida (ICCF) facilitates the kick-off event to MLK week in Greater Orlando. A Gathering started at Orlando City Hall followed by a procession to Shiloh Baptist Church. The service was titled was “The Daybreak of Freedom” and the Keynote speaker was Bishop Derrick L. McRae, pastor of Experience Christian Center and president of the African American Council of Christian Clergy.
One of the earliest galleries in our 1UPhotos website is called “Dinner with the Divas”; it happened on November 11, 2006. There are about 120 photographs in the gallery [here] with many familiar faces. It was a wonderful fundraiser for the handicap accessible restroom in Gore Hall.
In the event some of our men appeared in drag. Can you find Dave S, Mike M and Ben M in the last picture? Is there anyone else you recognize in this picture? Any other memories? Click on LEAVE A COMMENT above.
The congregation would like to thank John B. for providing the beautiful plaque and memories of Frank Cofer for the artwork that decorates the back wall of the sanctuary. Frank was a longtime member who left his estate to our church along with his wish for a commissioned piece of art honoring Unitarian Universalism and its welcoming of the world’s religious traditions.
New plaque near the sculpture.
Close up of new plaque.
The “Frank’s Dream” sculpture was first installed and then dedicated in the 1U Sanctuary on May 18, 2008.
From Ann Cook’s opening remarks:
“In 2004 this church lost one of its most colorful members to AIDS – Frank coffer. Everyone in this church whether they knew it or not participated in Frank’s life from listening to him talk to running errands to sitting at his bedside in the last hours of his life. This beloved community provided Frank with a safe place. In return Frank left his entire estate to this church with the stipulation that the money be used to commission a work of art in the sanctuary showing major world religions and their relation to Unitarian Universalism.
We selected Stefan Alexandres, a sculptor whose metal bas-reliefs took our collective breath away. Thank you, Stefan Alexandres, for translating Frank’s dream into a splendid work of art. Thank you First Unitarian Church for coming through for Frank when he needed you. Finally thanks to his good friend Stuart Bogue who gave me a most Frank-like exit line.
When I asked Stuart if he thought Frank would like the sculpture, he said, ‘I think Frank would have turned this into a necklace!’ “
About the Artist
Stefan Alexandres is a sculptor living in Central Florida, who works with steel, copper, and brass using a process called repousse. Born in Athens, Stefan has honed his craft all over the world. In 1989 he moved to the United States.
When asked about inspiration he says, “This art has been inspired from my interest in civilizations around the world. I have surrounded the lotus with traditional motifs from various world cultures. It is a source of wonder that so many of the same symbols appear in cultures that are unrelated in space and time period.”