August 19th Speaker Bio: Chandler Coggins

Chandler is from Jacksonville and works as a recovery specialist with Mental Health America of Northeast Florida. In this role, he provides services that support the recovery of people with mental illness experiencing homelessness. In addition, he is a facilitator of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Connection Recovery Support Group in Jacksonville, which meets every other week at the Riverside YMCA and brings together people living with mental illness in our community. He also served on the board of directors of NAMI Jacksonville for two years, and he recently returned to Jacksonville from the DC area, where he completed an internship in the Homeless Programs Branch of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). In his professional and volunteer activities, he is motivated by his own experience living in recovery from mental illness.

Generosity in Action for August

Our Generosity in Action honorees this month are Jake Mehrman and Bowen Barrs! Bowen is the Hospitality co-chair. He and Jake do the shopping every Sunday morning and then come in and help the coffee host — and they have happily filled in when we had no host! Jake and Bowen installed our lovely new coffee brewing and water filtration systems, and Jake got the power back to the kitchen the morning of the Spaghetti dinner fundraiser.

They routinely (and without fanfare or recognition) come and do landscaping upkeep on the property — most notably the ongoing upkeep of the asiatic jasmine bed between the sanctuary and the parking lot and keeping the upper parking lot free of leaves and debris.

Bowen was one of the speakers for Mark Stewart’s Christmas play, and Jake is the leader of our safety team that helps us stay safe by keeping a vigilant eye out Sunday mornings.

Next time you see them, make sure to give them a BIG thanks for all that they do…and wish them a happy 30th anniversary as well!

August 12th Speaker Bio: Taryn Wharwood

Taryn “LoveReigns” Wharwood is a native of Miami, Florida and began her public speaking at the Ebony Village school in Dania, Florida at the tender of age of 5! It was there that Taryn developed a love and deep passion for poetry, and public speaking. All credit to the owners/directors of the school whose vision, and daily mantra that students recited each morning: “I am Taryn Wharwood, and I have a GREAT mind!”

Since then, Taryn has been performing on and off stages across the US & Canada from Open-Mics to Universities and more. She is the Co-host and Founder of Artis(Tree) Live, and the Cypher Open Mic Poetry & Soul. Taryn is also an avid mentor, community advocate, public speaker and soon to be published author. Taryn is also the New Hire Development Coordinator & Sales Trainer for, a position that garners two of her greatest life passions: poetry & helping others.

Memorial Service for Gail Bristol

A Memorial Service for Gail Bristol will be held at UUCJ (7405 Arlington Expressway, Jacksonville, FL 32211) on August 4, 2018 at 1:00 pm. There will be a reception afterwards in the Social Hall, provided by UUCJ members and friends.  If you are able to help with finger food donations and/or the set-up/clean-up for the reception, please contact Betsy Deuerling at or Lois Hoeft at

Please plan to bring food by 12:30 pm.

Thank You from READ USA

READ USA sent us a warm thank-you letter following our fundraiser for their book fair:

Thank you to the generous congregation of Unitarian Universalist Church for your tremendous role in delivering over 26,000 new books to 6,697 pre-k to elementary students in 16 Title 1 schools in 5 days with 1,000’s of smiles!

Your generous donation of $5,000 and Meg Rohal’s volunteer leadership and recruitment among your congregation not only helped ensure that every student at Arlington Heights Elementary School participated in a colorful, beautiful book fair…by choosing 3 brand new books to own for free just in time for summer break, but you also encouraged other donors and volunteers to expand the impact! 100% of your donation went toward the purchase of new books the students chose to own because READ USA, Inc. is 100% volunteer run…Thank you for your investment in literacy where it matters most to our future! Readers are Leaders!

~ Ellen A. Will, President, READ USA, Inc.

Green Sanctuary Meeting: August 5

Green Sanctuary meeting: This Sunday, August 5th, 12:30 in the Fletcher Room

Any member or guest interested in UUCJ’s efforts to “green” the Sanctuary is encouraged to attend. Brief updates will be given and future plans discussed. All are welcomed!

June 29th Speaker Bio: Rev. Victoria Hamilton

Rev. Victoria Hamilton, is co-pastor of St. John’s Lutheran Church. She co-pastors with her husband William, affectionately known as P-Ham, to whom she has been married for more than 48 years.  Vicki was called to the then 128 year old historical congregation, whose membership was declining in January 2000 as a mission developer.  The congregation has changed dramatically and has become ethnically diverse.
She has been a church-wide board member of the African American Lutheran Association, Assistant to the Bishop for the African American Strategy, synod’s anti-racism team. She is an advocate for LGBT rights and is a member of Reconciling Works. She has also served ecumenically with Beat the Odds (a community program helping and encouraging young teen parents to finish school) and has conducted numerous workshops on self-esteem and empowerment.

June 15th Speaker Bio: Ericka Kofkin

Ericka Kofkin is the Special Populations Coordinator for the City of Coral Gables. The city firmly believes in including every person in their recreational, sporting and social activities, regardless of their physical or cognitive condition. This means that Ericka is responsible for addressing the needs of and providing accommodations for all persons wishing to participate in public programs in Coral Gables. Compassion for and understanding of those with physical disabilities comes easily for Ericka, who lost her hearing when she sustained a traumatic brain injury at the age of 19.

Ericka currently holds a Therapeutic Recreation  degree from Florida International University, where she was the first disabled student awarded accommodations to travel on a University sponsored program. Ericka’s compassion doesn’t end with human beings. She is also a champion of animals. She moves through the world with the help of her service dog, Avery, whom she trained herself. In the past, she once came to the rescue of 13 dogs and 30 cats, moving them into her own home after a flood until they could be returned to their shelter. This inborn sense of compassion and commitment makes Ericka a natural advocate for those who face physical or cognitive challenges.