By Lanier Laney
In 1862, Laura Towne, a member of the First Unitarian Church in Philadelphia, travelled to St. Helena Island to work with thousands of people newly freed from slavery and helped found Penn Center. During the last decade, Rev. Nan L. White, who founded the Beaufort branch of the Unitarian Universalist Church 15 years ago, has actively engaged members of her faith, both locally, regionally, and nationally, in support of Penn Center on all levels from volunteering to fundraising. Her church has also been recognized for its volunteer work throughout the Beaufort area, whether tutoring students, feeding the hungry, nurturing local organic farming or cleaning trash from the roads and waterways.
After 15 years, Rev. Nan is moving on to a new congregation in another part of the country, as is the Unitarian tradition. There was a Celebration of Thanks this past Saturday, May 3, at Penn Center as a goodbye party for Rev. Nan for all she has done for the community and several hundred people turned out from all over the region. Rev. Nan and her spouse Sam Ballenger received bricks with their names on them to be included as part of the expanding church building. Nan also received a portrait that will be hung in the church as she was the founding “mother of the church” and its first pastor. She was also honored by Penn Center and inducted into the 1862 Circle last year.
Thank you, Rev. Nan, for all you did for Beaufort. Your big heart will be missed. Here are some pics from the event.