MHA Newsletter: Issue 2


The Morganton Humanist Alliance is a secular support and community action group for those who value compassion, rationality, and critical thinking. We are a chapter of the American Humanist Association.


During the holidays, the MHA sponsored a 28 day initiative called “Random Acts of Kindness.” Community members were challenged to do spontaneous good deeds. The response was amazing.

Humanists reported (to name just a few):

  • Helping an elderly person stack firewood
  • Giving emotional and financial support to a homeless man
  • Paying for the food orders of people
  • Leaving mega tips for wait staff
  • Paying off a stranger’s layaway at Target
  • Donating books to the library
  • Sharing a meal with a stranger at a restaurant who got the wrong order
  • Donating gas money to someone stuck on the roadside

…and many, many more!!


The MHA and several individual members contributed to the campaign of a local veteran, Joseph Pritchard, who joined the peaceful protest at Standing Rock Indian Reservation.

Mr. Pritchard was quoted by the Morganton News Herald as giving the following advice which should resonate with all humanists:

“Stand up, show up, even if it is against tremendous odds. Show up, especially the young people… Show up in your life and what is going on around you and make a difference.”


In the fall of 2016, the MHA decided to form a scholarship to help Burke County students attend Western Piedmont Community College. We dedicated the scholarship to one of Burke County’s great humanitarians, Ronno Cooke.

Sadly, Ronno passed away shortly after the New Year but he left a legacy of kindness, social consciousness, and activism that touched many lives.

Ronno organized events for the original Earth Day in 1970. He was an early member of the Foundation for National Progress, an organization that uses revelatory journalism to inspire a more just and democratic world.

Mr. Cooke was the coordinator for the Green Construction Program. The focus of Green Construction was to retrain laid off workers who were having issues finding employment in new skills to help them gain work in the modern market.

Ronno was a woodworking artist who specialized in creating furniture. He was a respected educator at Western Piedmont and other local community colleges. He and his students were responsible for several important building projects on the WPCC campus. One of Ronno’s instructional efforts was participation in the B.R.I.D.G.E program which is program sponsored by the National Forest Service to help rehabilitate youthful offenders.

Mr. Cooke was a long time member of the Sierra Club and served as past chair for the Executive Committee on the NC State Executive Board.

If you would like to contribute to the scholarship, please send donations to:

MHA Ronno Cooke Memorial Scholarship
PO Box 321
Morganton , NC 28680


MHA President, Isaac Crouch, delivered the invocation for Morganton’s first City Council meeting of 2017. This historic event was the first secular invocation since the Council was formed in 1913! The invocation was poignant, candid, and unifying. Here it is in its entirety:

Elected officials and hired public servants, my name is Isaac Crouch and I’m the president of the Morganton Humanist Alliance. I’ll start by thanking you for allowing me to be here today. Prior to the formation of our non-profit group earlier last year, there did not exist a community in the area for secular-minded people to fellowship with each other or combine resources and time for works of good. Indeed, many members have expressed worry and caution regarding our public presence due to potential backlash from a highly religious population.
For the most part and to our delight, such a backlash has been non-existent. Without any obstruction, we have planted trees downtown as part of Earth Day, adopted part of the bypass that goes by Catawba Meadows for clean-up, and formed a scholarship for local high school students. We hope 2017 brings even more opportunities for us to give back to the community. Allowing me to give this invocation on behalf of the group illustrates that this local government is not religiously biased, and that means a lot to us moving forward.

If you are a member of the MHA or identify as “secular” please raise your hand.

With that said, I’ll begin with a modified version of an invocation given by a Humanist legislator during the opening of a session of the Arizona House of Representatives.

Most prayers in this room begin with a request to bow your heads. I would like to ask you not to bow your heads. I would like to ask that you take a moment to look around the room at all of the men and women here, in this moment, sharing together this extraordinary experience of being alive and of dedicating ourselves to working toward improving the lives of the people of our city.

This is a room where, as my secular humanist tradition stresses, by the very fact of being human, we have much more in common than we have differences. We share the same spectrum of potential for care, for compassion, for fear, for joy, for love.

Carl Sagan once wrote, ‘For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love.’ There is, in the political process, much to bear. In this room, let us cherish and celebrate our shared humanness, our shared capacity for reason and compassion, our shared love for the people of Morganton, for our Constitution and for our democracy — and let us root our policymaking process in these values that are relevant to all citizens regardless of religious belief or nonbelief. In gratitude and in love, in reason and in compassion, let us work together for a better Morganton.

Thank you for your time.


November 13th, Suzy Fitzgerald, the board chair for the Meeting Place Mission, did a great presentation at an MHA meeting.

This inspired the MHA to partner up with LGBT Burke and help out. On November 19 and December 10, MHA and LGBT Burke members braved the cold and wind to host a donation booth outside of Food Matters Market.


The donation drive was a major success. We collected three trunk loads of donated supplies. Additionally, MHA donated $100 as a group and MHA members individually donated an extra $125.

Suzy Fitzgerald voiced her appreciation, “Wow that’s fantastic! Thank you all so much. Besides all the great donations, you have really helped raise awareness for the homeless and that is priceless.”





My name is Dennis Wilson. I grew up near East Burke High School. I graduated from WPCC and am a Vietnam veteran. My wife, Debbie, and I have three married daughters. I am retired and Debbie will be shortly. I discovered the MHA recently in the News Herald. It’s early yet, but I think I may have found an organization with views fairly closely aligned with mine. I am a liberal-leaning atheist and although that may not dovetail precisely with the MHA, I think we see eye to eye on most topics. I understand the necessity for the structured meetings and I commend the community involvement, but what I have enjoyed the most, so far, are the informal Thursdays. That’s when I get the chance to pick the brains of the other members. Presently I have found you to be a likable lot and I am having fun. I hope that in the future I can become an asset to the MHA.


We are Robert and Nicole Vasile and have two boys: Andrew, who is ten, and our little one, Booshki, who is four. Robert is originally from Romania and Nicole from California. How we met and ended up in Morganton is a bit of a longer story; it has a Lifetime movie quality to it but maybe not as sappy. 🙂 Our children drive our every move through life.  We enjoy traveling to immerse ourselves in different cultures and marvel at our planet’s wondrous diversity. We believe in being kind to all those we encounter. We look forward to learning more about the members of MHA and becoming involved with making a difference in our little corner of the world. Peace, Love, and Happiness from us to you!

My name is Ken Tolin and live here in Morganton. I came to MHA via the Hickory Humanist Alliance, which I discovered about a year or two ago. After climbing out of the depths of dogmatic religions, I,  like so many people, spent time seeking my own “Truth.” It’s been a great relief to find like-minded people. I enjoy having the Morganton group closer to my home but it’s also good to spend time with both groups.


My name is Lucy Mull. I was born in Tijuana, Mexico a long time ago! I have lived in California, Arkansas, Florida and North Carolina. I have Bachelors in Psychology and a Master’s in Public Administration. I work as an advocate for abused and neglected children in Foster Care, a job I truly appreciate. I believe in defending the rights of children who otherwise do not have a voice or anybody to speak up for them. I am passionate about creating a better world for our children and grandchildren. I am an introvert, but can fake outgoing in a flash.


MHA Meetings and Information:

Regular meetings are held:

Social gatherings are:

  • The second Thursday of every month. Locations will be announced as events are posted.

For more information about the Morganton Humanist Alliance:

For information about the American Humanist Association: