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Church to hold memorial speaker series

The memory of a Westside Unitarian Universalist Church member will live on in a speaker series set to kick off Sunday, Feb. 8.

Linda Lee Kraeger, who was killed in the Ten-nessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church shootings last July, will be honored by an annual memorial speaker series at WUUC, her home church.

Kraeger, an author and community college teacher, moved to East Tennessee a year-and-a-half before she attended TVUUC’s production of “Annie Jr.” Sunday, July 27. While there, 58-year-old Jim David Adkisson allegedly walked into the church with a Remington Model 48 12-guage shotgun carried in a guitar case and fired shots, killing two, including Kraeger, and injuring six more.

Jafarzadeh believes the combination of literature and religion in the speaker series is something Kraeger would have enjoyed.

“For a woman who enjoyed being bleached-blonde, and who liked her rhinestones and her fancy shoes, she was brilliant … and that was part of her legacy, to keep those ideas alive and active,” Jafarzadeh said.

“She was an academic but she was also very creative, and very much wanted to encourage the brilliance and talent in her students,” she added.

The first speaker of the series will be the Rev. William Sinkford, Unitarian Universalist Associa-tion president, who is attending TVUUC’s 60-year anniversary that same week.

“This is a chance to celebrate that achievement and also look forward to the future,” Jafarzadeh said.

“The kickoff is special because Sinkford is in town and we’re taking advantage of his presence,” she added.

The inaugural speaker series event normally will be held in the fall, Jafarzadeh said, perhaps beginning as soon as fall 2009. In future, Jafarzadeh hopes to add a writing contest for short stories to the memorial speaker series.

Sinkford will present his speech, “Taking America Back … And Forward,” at 3:30 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 8, at WUUC, 616 Fretz Road. A reception will follow.

For more information, call WUUC at 865-777-9882.


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