Interweave Continental: Unitarian Universalists for Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Concerns

Our Mission

Interweave Continental is a membership organization actively working toward ending oppression based on sexual orientation and gender identity, recognizing that we will not be free until all oppression is a thing of the past.

We are a related organization of the Unitarian Universalist Association, and Unitarian Universalist principles guide our work.

We value and affirm the lives and experience of Queer people of faith, regardless of their age, race, ethnicity, income level, and ability.

By providing and supporting leadership and working in collaboration with other organizations of similar vision, we strive to connect and nurture all Queer individuals, communities, and groups and their allies.

Click here to view Interweave Continental's informational brochure.

Click here to view Interweave Continental's bylaws.

Our Board of Directors

President: Maryka Bhattacharyya, North Augusta, South Carolina

My parents came to the U.S. from Holland as newly-weds in February 1940. I grew up as the middle child and only daughter of Mia and Carel Horsting. Both my older brother Eric and my younger brother Paul were English majors, while I became a scientist – a bit of gender role reversal.

I obtained a B.S. in chemistry at Jackson College, Tufts University and a Ph.D. in biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin/Madison. During my thirty-five years as a research scientist at Argonne National Laboratory in the Chicago area, I rose to Senior Scientist, received the highest award for research at Argonne and an award as Outstanding Mentor from the Department of Energy, having guided the research of more than sixty students and faculty and published more than eighty articles in peer-reviewed journals.

My husband Samit was born in India and came to the U.S. after getting his undergraduate degree in India. We met in graduate school and have a son, Roby. Sam and I recently moved to North Augusta, South Carolina.

I am currently trying to re-start my career as Professor of Medicine at Georgia Health Sciences University/Medical College of Georgia. My research focuses on environmental causes of osteoporosis, in particular the metal cadmium. My appointment at GHSU is half-time, and I know that retirement is ahead – I just don’t know when. I still have places to go and things to do, including playing a lot of tennis!

I fell in love with the DuPage Unitarian Universalist Church (DUUC) in Naperville, Illinois when I was looking for a church home in the late 1970s. I served as member and Chair of the Sunday Services Committee, Head of the Welcoming Congregation Task Force, and Chair of our Interweave Committee, once our congregation achieved Welcoming status. I loved my ~10 years of investment in working with and supporting the BGLTQ community at DUUC, in Naperville, and in the state capital of Springfield, Illinois. I learned so much about myself and what it is to be human, and I love the broad spectrum of diversity that opened up to me.

Now that I am in South Carolina, I have joined the Church of the Larger Fellowship and am still learning to make my way around there. I am very happy to be President of the Board of Interweave Continental and staying in touch with the UU community. We have much important work to do together!

Vice President: Nisco Junkins, Eugene, Oregon

Nisco Junkins and her wife Marilyn were instrumental in starting the first Oregon Interweave chapter, at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Eugene (UUCE). UUCE’s Interweave chapter has met for a potluck, movie and discussion on LGBT issues every second Friday for six years. These meetings serve as both education and outreach to the local LGBT and straight community, attracting some community members to join UUCE. As a result of consistent advertising, twenty-five to thirty-five people attend each meeting from both UUCE and the local Eugene/Springfield area.

Nisco is very excited about recruiting more UU churches to start Interweave chapters and about raising the funds necessary to enable Interweave Continental to do its good work.

Secretary: Dr. Susan Gore, Ft. Worth, Texas

Susan discovered she was a UU in 1987, upon moving to Dallas, Texas from Washington, D.C. She is a long-time Interweave member and past board president, as well as co-editor with the Reverend Keith Kron of Coming out in Faith: Voices of LGBTQ Unitarian Universalists (Skinner, 2011). Susan also has served as a consultant to the Journey Toward Wholeness Transformation Committee of the UUA on efforts to increase congregational diversity.

Susan is currently a Master of Theological Studies student at Brite Divinity School, with the goal of deepening the social justice work she has pursued throughout her life. In addition to her studies, Susan is at work on an ENDA reader, a collection of essays examining the need for and implications of employment non-discrimination based on sexual and gender identity.

Susan’s career spans academic, corporate and nonprofit roles, as well as twenty-two years (so far) as principal of The Mentor Group, a consulting practice that specializes in strategic planning, leadership and communications for clients seeking to leverage the benefits of diversity in the workplace (www.mentor-group.com). Susan also offers coaching to individuals who want to clarify and expand their strengths.

In her spare time, Susan loves cooking for friends, going to movies, and traveling. Her favorite trip is always “the next one.” 

Board Member: Tova Vitiello, Iowa City, Iowa

Tova Vitiello moved from New Jersey to Iowa City, Iowa in order to attend graduate school. She is a retired psychology professor and therapist. She is also a published poet. At age fifty-nine, Tova hiked the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. She was a co-founder of Lesbian Alliance and an active member of New Jewish Agenda and Women Against Racism. Presently, Tova is co-chair of Interweave at the Unitarian Universalist Society of Iowa City. She enjoys kayaking, tennis, and the children in her life.

Board Member: Niala Terrell-Mason, Los Angeles, California

Niala Terrell-Mason is a thirty-two-year-old member of the Universalist Unitarian Church of Riverside. She has been a member there since 2009. During that time period, she has served on the Board of Trustees, the Ministerial Intern Committee, the Worship Arts Committee, and several nominating committees. She was in the group that re-established her congregation’s Interweave group after years of being inactive. Niala was also a SALT (Spiritual Activist Leadership Training) fellow through the Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of California. For her final project, she formed an interfaith study and activity group called Bridges. Niala has a bachelor’s degree in Sociology with a concentration in Women’s Studies from Scripps College in Claremont, California. She spent six years working for Planned Parenthood as a clinic worker and community educator before leaving to work briefly for California Congressman Mark Takano (the first openly gay person of color in the U.S. House of Representatives). She has currently taken a work hiatus to focus on her grandmother’s health as well as to work her way towards seminary. Aside from her activism, Niala also enjoys reading, volunteering with her local rape crisis center, British television, fandom and her baby cousin, whom she calls her “Sweet Potato.” 

Our History

Interweave began in the early 1970s as “Unitarian Universalists for Gay Concerns,” a grassroots support network for sexual minority lay people and clergy in the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA).

We advocated sucessfully for a UUA “Office of Gay Affairs” (now the Office of LGBTQ Ministries) in 1973 and for the Office’s funding in 1975.

Interweave held its first Convocation in 1983, with workshops and speakers chosen to raise awareness of gay and lesbian issues.

We adopted the name “Interweave Continental: Unitarian Universalists for Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Concerns” in 1993  and merged with the UU Bisexual Network to emphasize our commitment to inclusion for all identity groups and to encourage individual and chapter memberships.

We resolved in 1994 to address institutional racism by outreach to people of color, and in 1999 we became the first UUA Affiliate Organization to begin the Journey Toward Wholeness anti-racism process.

Interweave became a stakeholder in the Consultation on Ministry to and with Youth in 2006, and we continue to work with youth and young adults to improve our services to and connection with younger generations.

Interweave promotes interfaith dialogue through participation in the National Religious Leadership Roundtable, Equal Partners in Faith, and other multi-faith organizations.

We remain dedicated to becoming an anti-racist, multicultural organization working to end all forms of oppression within the UUA and society at large.

Principles and Sources / Principios y Fuentes

We, the member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association, covenant to affirm and promote:

  • The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
  • Justice, equity and compassion in human relations; 
  • Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations; 
  • A free and responsible search for truth and meaning; 
  • The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
  • The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all; 
  • Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

The living tradition which we share draws from many sources:

  • Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life; 
  • Words and deeds of prophetic women and men which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love;
  • Wisdom from the world's religions which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life;
  • Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God's love by loving our neighbors as ourselves;
  • Humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science, and warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit;
  • Spiritual teachings of earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature. 

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Nosotros, las congregaciones miembros de la Asociación Unitaria Universalista, convenimos en afirmar y fomentar:

  • El valor y la dignidad propia de cada persona;
  • La justicia, equidad y compasión en las relaciones humanas;
  • La aceptación del uno al otro y el estímulo al crecimiento espiritual en nuestras congregaciones;
  • Una búsqueda libre y responsable por la verdad y el sentido;
  • El derecho de la conciencia y el uso del proceso democrático dentro de nuestras congregaciones y en la sociedad en general;
  • La meta de una comunidad mundial con paz, libertad y justicia para todos;
  • El respeto por el tejido interdependiente de todo lo existente, del cual somos una parte.

La tradición viva que compartimos proviene de muchas fuentes:

  • La experiencia directa de aquel misterio y maravilla afirmada en todas las culturas, que nos lleva a una renovación del espíritu y a una apertura a las fuerzas que crean y sostienen la vida;
  • Las palabras y escrituras de mujeres y hombres con visión profética que nos desafían a enfrentar las poderes y estructuras del mal con justicia, compasión y el poder transformador del amor;
  • La sabiduría de las religiones del mundo que nos inspiran en nuestra vida ética y espiritual;
  • Las enseñanzas judías y cristianas que nos llaman a responder al amor de Dios, amando a nuestros vecinos como a nosotros mismos;
  • Las enseñanzas humanistas que nos aconsejan a oír la guía de la razón y los resultados científicos y que nos advierten contra las idolatrías de la mente y del espíritu;
  • Las enseñanzas espirituales de tradiciones tierra-centradas, las cuales celebran el sagrado círculo de la vida y nos enseñan a vivir en harmonía con los ritmos de la naturaleza.