Rev. Arthur Vaeni, who served 13 years as the minister of Olympia Unitarian Universalist Congregation, is returning to New England to be an interim minister to a Unitarian Universalist congregation in Bangor, Maine.
He will serve two years in his new role, which begins in July.
Vaeni will be best remembered for urging his congregation in 2007 to offer sanctuary to a group of homeless campers living in downtown Olympia. Six years later, including the collaboration of other churches and volunteers, Vaeni’s first gesture ultimately resulted in Quixote Village, a 2.17-acre, $3.05 million real estate development at Mottman Industrial Park in Tumwater.
“He has become an important and respected voice for justice and compassion in the wider community,” said OUUC board president Jack Jackson in a statement. “We will all miss him very much.”
He also was credited with growing the congregation, which has resulted in a three-phase building project for the church.
Vaeni earned his masters in divinity degree at Harvard Divinity School in 1987. He served as a minister for 14 years in New Hampshire before coming to Olympia.