top of page

Athens church letter to mayor and commission on Laken Riley and immigrants

Dear Mayor Kelly Girtz and Athens Clarke-County Commissioners,

We, the Minister and the Board of Trustees of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Athens (UUFA) write to you in compassion, encouragement, and moral urgency. UUFA is a diverse group of seekers of many races, incomes, beliefs and backgrounds who highly value human diversity. With many others in the Athens community we deeply mourn the tragic death of Laken Riley on the UGA campus on February 22nd.

Our congregational mission is fourfold:

1. To build inclusion: For this reason UUFA vehemently decries those forces trying to promote a political issue by desecrating this wrongful death—dishonoring many of our immigrant Athens. Our immigrant neighbors work hard, raise families, and contribute to the social, economic, and educational fabric of our community in statistically positive ways.

2. To embody spirit: Athens is united in expecting that the killer be held accountable under the law. Both local and state officials have done an exemplary job leading to the prompt arrest of a suspect. That same spirit of unity should strengthen our resolve to cooperate to see that the American Spirit of “liberty and justice for all” prevails to ensure the safety of all members of our community, free of hatred and division, in this and any case.

3. To serve justice: Our country is based on justice under the law, and rhetoric that seeks to diminish immigrant rights and dignity or to exclude Latinos as a group is un-American. Caring citizens, not demagogues, serve justice. UUFA has a long history of working within the law to remedy injustice within Athens. We will continue to do so and call on others to join us.

4. Grow love: Laken Riley, a nursing student, was pursuing a career in healing and caring. UUFA calls on the Athens community to honor her chosen path with compassion and caring to address the conditions in Athens that still make it unsafe for all women here.

We offer compassion to the Athens Clarke-County Mayor and Commissioners as you lead our community in this difficult time. We encourage your continued support of the entire community, including the immigrant community who is enduring animosity due to the vitriol surrounding the identity of the suspect in the murder. We encourage each of you to uphold with good will the full 2019 Resolution in Support of Athens Immigrant, Undocumented, and Latinx Communities. Furthermore, we urge each of you to invest impactful resources in addressing the pervasive persistence of men’s violence against women, including through preventive measures that utilize science-based approaches for community uplift rather than through punitive approaches that evidence demonstrates do little or nothing to increase women’s safety.

The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Athens invites our entire Athens community to seek and establish common ground and move forward together to promote mutual respect and love as well as physical and emotional safety for all.

In Compassion and Good Will,

Board of Trustees, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Athens Jane Mayer, President

Susie Weller, Vice President

Paul Schliekelman, Treasurer

Sarah Cook, Secretary

Tracy Brown, Member at Large

Iva King, Member at Large

Marguerite Holmes, Member at Large Penny Oldfather, Member at Large

Jamie Mendenhall-Turner, Member at Large

Rev. Dr. Pippin Whitaker, Minister, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Athens

778 views10 comments


Obviously, if one disagrees with the cult, name-calling ensues.


I completely support this statement from the Unitarian-Universalists of Athens.


This group claims to be religious? Since when does a religion condone law breaking? That is what illegal aliens are-lawbreakers. Illegals want the east way out instead of immigrating legally.

Replying to

Which east? Southeast? Northeast? It’s all so confusing.

Almost like not knowing anything about Unitarian- Universalists. Or thinking that churches are favor of upholding the law.


This group hurled insults and threats to the organic community group of “ UGA MOMS”, they publish this to protect the unjust!! They are aiding and abetting In undocumented in our community illegally thus breaking the law under the pretext of shielding them from the monsters in big trucks with weapons of war!!!! If you don’t like the laws, get elected and change the laws.

Replying to

Please show documentation that those who are members of this church hailed insults. Then show us who these UGA moms are.

bottom of page