The Rev. Mark Belletini, senior parish minister at First Unitarian Universalist Church, marked an important anniversary this week.

The Rev. Mark Belletini, senior parish minister at First Unitarian Universalist Church, marked an important anniversary this week.

Tuesday, Sept. 22, marked 30 years since Belletini became one of the first two openly gay people to be ordained into the Unitarian Universalist ministry.

"Mark was a trailblazer and helped us get where we are today, which is fully recognizing GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered) ministers," said Beth Miller, the director of ministry and professional leadership for the national Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), based in Boston. "As many denominations continue to struggle with this issue, UU has been open and respectful for decades."

Belletini has served as senior parish minister since 1998 at First Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbus, 93 W. Weisheimer Road.

Prior to his arrival in Ohio, he was minister of the Starr King Unitarian Universalist Church in California for 18 years. He began his ordained ministry by serving as assistant to the lead pastor at the First Unitarian Universalist Society of San Francisco. As chairman of the Hymnbook Resources Commission, he helped produce the 1993 UUA hymnal, "Singing the Living Tradition."

"Mark has also been a valued mentor to many of his colleagues, gay and straight," Miller said in a statement released by the local church.

Belletini has taught in a number of seminaries, including Meadville-Lombard in Chicago, which awarded him a doctor of divinity in 1994, and his alma mater, Starr King School for the Ministry. His topics have included worship and celebration; Unitarian Universalist history; gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans-gender studies; and the Gospels from a Unitarian Universalist perspective.

A published poet, Belletini works for social justice through central Ohio organizations such as BREAD, a coalition of churches, temples and mosques banded together to address community issues.