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Niose to speak at UU Church, receive Wolfson Award for Contributions to Humanism

  • Apr 7, 2013 · 10:00 AM
  • This location is shown only to members

David Niose, former President of the American Humanist Association and current President of the Secular Coalition. will receive the first Irving and Annabel Wolfson Award for Contributions to Humanism. All are welcome.

David will also be giving the Dr. Irving & Annabel Wolfson Memorial Lecture on Liberal Religion

The lecture, established in 2012 from a bequest of Dr. Irving Wolfson, retired local cardiologist and long-time member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Worcester, is devoted in part to answering the following: “Irving and Annabel Wolfson were agnostics who tried to live by the highest moral standards. From where does that motivation come to live by such standards to a person or persons who did not believe in a hereafter of rewards and punishments?”

This year’s lecture, “God on Our Side? Is Any Nation Under God?” will be delivered by David Niose, President of the Secular Coalition for America, a Washington-based group that lobbies on behalf of atheists and humanists. David previously served two terms as National President of the American Humanist Association. He is also author of Nonbeliever Nation: The Rise of Secular Americans, which will be coming out in paperback this fall, and he blogs about humanist issues for Psychology Today.

Mr. Niose will also be honored by the Wolfson Lecture Committee this Sunday with the 1st Annual Dr. Irving & Annabel Wolfson Award for his contributions to Humanism.

A reception will follow the service in the Fellowship Hall of the church. The public is invited to attend. Admission is free. The Unitarian Universalist Church of Worcester is located at 90 Holden Street, Worcester, MA[masked], and is a barrier-free and LGBTQI welcoming congregation. For more information, please visit or call[masked]-1942.

Biography of Dr. Irving Wolfson

Irving Wolfson was born July 20, 1919, in New York City, the son of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe who arrived in the U.S. early in the 20th century. His father was a physician and his mother ran her own business as a custom dressmaker. Irving stayed in New York to attend Columbia University, then received his M.D. from Yale Medical School. It was during a subsequent internship at New York’s Mount Sinai hospital that he met his future wife, Annabel Kreider. After several residencies, the Wolfson family moved to Worcester and, a few years later, to the home on Laconia Road where Irving lived until his death in 2010.

Irving devoted his middle years to medicine, becoming Chief of Medicine at Worcester’s Fairlawn Hospital, Chief of Cardiology at Worcester City Hospital, and a Professor of Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Nevertheless, he found time to champion progressive political causes, being particularly active in the 1960s civil rights movement and in opposition to the Vietnam War. He was a generous supporter of Amnesty International, the American Civil Liberties Union, the NAACP, and the United World Federalists. After retiring in 1983, Irving blossomed in remarkable ways, becoming an accomplished oil painter and enjoying his long-standing interests in chess and swimming. Irving loved the privacy of his home; visits from his three children, six grandchildren and one great-grandchild; and the social and cultural opportunities of the Worcester area.

Irving’s religious views were shaped by his commitment to rationalism and the principles of secular humanism. He and Annabel were naturally drawn to Unitarianism—especially given the displeasure that their religiously mixed marriage engendered in Irving’s parents. After a few years’ association with the downtown Worcester Unitarian Church, the Wolfson family found a more comfortable home in what was then the Universalist Church and is now the Unitarian Universalist Church of Worcester. Irving remained a lifelong member and active supporter of UUCW, and on occasion could even be found in the pulpit.

Biography of Annabel Kreider Wolfson

Annabel Kreider was born October 30, 1914, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. She was a graduate of the Mount Sinai Hospital School of Nursing in New York, and it was at Mount Sinai that she met her future husband, Irving Wolfson. The family moved to Worcester in 1951, and Annabel was a Worcester resident from then until her death in 1983.

Annabel’s calling was helping people, first through her profession as a nurse and then in a variety of volunteer activities. She was active in the peace movement, serving on the national Citizens Committee for a Sane World and, during the Vietnam War, as a counselor to young men who were conscientiously opposed to military service. During that time her basement shelves were lined with issues of The Selective Service Law Reporter, which she read thoroughly enough to develop a lawyer-like competence. A number of men probably owe their lives to Annabel’s draft counseling. In some dramatic cases she obtained stays just days before her clients were to report for induction into the armed forces—or to face arrest or emigration to Canada when they didn’t report.

For twenty years Annabel was the face of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Worcester County. Each year as Halloween approached, her dining room table was strewn with UNICEF preparations, and she often recruited young volunteers to help. Annabel’s UNICEF activities raised nearly $200,000 for the organization. In 1983 she became one of only 28 individuals since 1940 to be awarded the U.S. National Committee for UNICEF’s Honorary Citation. Other community service included a stint as a Cub Scout den mother, and volunteer work in school libraries.

Annabel’s work for peace and justice was honored with a chapter in Michael True’s 1985 book Justice Seekers Peace Makers: 32 Portraits in Courage.

It was Annabel who first brought her family to the Unitarian Church of Worcester in 1958, following several years of at-home “Sunday School,” with Irving reading to his children from Beacon Press religious education books. Annabel helped promote religious tolerance and cooperation through service on the Worcester County Ecumenical Council. She remained a Unitarian Universalist for the rest of her life.

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  • Mike H.

    Wish I could make it.

    April 6, 2013

3 went

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