New Member Profile


Meet Jonathan Springer

by Kathy O’Laughlin

Jonathan Springer attended events at the Fellowship for four years, and decided to become a member this year. His initial connections to the community were through Open Minds and the New Humanist Forum.

Jonathan notes that at the congregational retreat a few months ago, four principal purposes of the Fellowship were identified. The ones that he identifies with most strongly are the creation of community and the search for truth, both of which drew him to the Fellowship when he started attending.

Jonathan was recently elected to the Board of Directors, and is finding that service to be a vehicle to become more involved in and aware of other aspects of the community. He also serves on the Communications Team, and assisted in setting up mailing lists for different groups within the Fellowship. For the last few years, Jonathan has given an annual talk at the new Humanist Forum covering areas he wants to understand better, such as the nature of the mind and the philosophy of mathematics.

Professionally, Jonathan is a software engineer for a company in New York, and is able to telecommute from Carbondale.   He has two sons, Will and Julian. Will recently graduated from high school and is attending college in Seattle. Julian is a senior in high school. Jonathan’s interests include computers and photography. He is often seen at the high school football games taking photos of the Carbondale Marching Terriers, and many of his photos are displayed on their website.

Please welcome Jonathan as one of our newer members!



Meet Laraine Wright

by Kathy O’Laughlin

Laraine Wright visited CUF occasionally over the years, but felt moved to join the community after the death of her husband, Jerry O’Malley. No longer a caregiver, Laraine felt the need to reinvent her life and reach out to other people. She wanted to love and be loved, and felt a strong need for community. Since joining CUF, she has been surprised to realize that beyond the need for community, she has also found herself drawn to exploring spiritual issues at a deeper level.

Laraine grew up in the Evangelical Lutheran Church (ELCA). After moving to Birmingham, Alabama from the north in the late 1950s, she was shocked to experience segregation and the reaction of people in her community to early attempts at integration. After leaving home to go to the University of Wisconsin, she made a choice to leave the church, which she realized didn’t match her beliefs.

After graduating from college, Laraine went to work as an editor for the Christian Board of Publication in St. Louis, creating religion education materials for a consortium of liberal Christian denominations. She met her husband there, and together they joined
a newly formed Disciples of Christ church which was creating an intentionally diverse community. They developed a close friendship with a single mother of 14 children through the church, and Laraine remains close to the family even now. Unfortunately, the church fell apart after ten years due to lack of funding and burnout. That ended
Laraine’s involvement in organized religion (until recently).

In 1983, Laraine came to Carbondale to be the publications director in the office of Public Relations at SIU. She loves the Carbondale community, and the beauty of Southern Illinois.

Laraine is an avid bird-watcher, enjoys the outdoors, and is a committed environmentalist. She is a long time board member of the Southern Illinois Audubon Society, and is on the board of the Friends of Crab Orchard (National Wildlife Refuge). She coordinates the Bluebird Trail Project, which monitors 200 bird houses weekly in the Crab Orchard. Laraine has been a monitor for twenty years, and has been responsible for preparing the annual report for the last twelve years. She also participates in an annual breeding bird survey conducted by the federal government. Laraine has travelled widely for birding in the United States, as well as internationally, visiting Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela, and Europe.

Therese finds herself dipping her toes in as she slowly gets more involved at the Fellowship. She is interested in social justice activities and is particularly engaged by the issues of racism and classism that have come to our awareness in the wake of Ferguson.

In addition to her outdoors activities, Laraine loves to paint landscapes and birds, of course! She finds that the painting is meditative and helps her to focus her mind. She is also a devoted walker of her beloved dogs, Judy and Sister.

Laraine is looking forward to being involved in the CUF community, and is particularly interested in helping the Feed My Sheep program.

Please welcome Laraine as one of our newest members!