|In conversation with an earlier post, Anna Flowers asked this in the comments section,
I was born into the UU church and dedicated in one of our congregations as a little kid (about four years old). Quite simply, this is my church. I love it. I have high hopes for it.
That said, I deeply believe that God is not at all interested in denominations. It is a spiritual commitment of mine not to overly attach to any one in particular, choosing instead to think of all of us as one Church. The denominational distinctions that seem so huge and important to us are ultimately insignificant. Heresy, I know! But we are humans discerning the will of God. None of us has it quite right. Our doctrines and statements of faith are a stab in the dark. I am a covenantal woman – I believe that the Church is a broad and complicated response to our feeling called to be God’s people. So let’s be God’s people.
I love what Unitarian Universalism can be when it is living into its best vision of itself. One of my best friends and UU ministerial colleagues calls me “our Luther,” as I am always pounding my theses on the church door and working toward reform. I think Unitarian Universalism is a religious movement that the world of today really needs and wants. The trouble is, we’re tripping over ourself making a mockery of our claims to embrace freedom, reason and tolerance as our “holy trinity.” I am committed to doing what I can to make our faith tradition all that it can be for the good of all souls who join in common quest for a deeper life than any of us can have alone.
I’m a scrapper and fixer by nature, so this is my calling. It is deeply satisfying. Plus — and this is a huge, enormous plus — I do this screaming and yelling and reforming work within the context of serving a congregation that I love and respect, and where I experience almost none of of the characteristically “UU” dysfunctions that are rampant in the wider movement. I cannot claim to have anything to do with this: I inherited a healthy, mature congregation when I was called here ten years ago. Of course we have our growing edges, but they are more connected to being an historic Standing Order New England church than in being “UU.”
People often assume my congregation is Christian UU. Nuh-uh. No way. But I can minister among the largely Humanist community because they welcome spiritual depth and seriousness in worship. We laugh a LOT. It is a celebratory community. But we are a church. We take church seriously, whatever our theological orientation.
I have often said that I don’t like to write about my congregation as my digital ministry is independent of my parish ministry, but it would be disingenuous to pretend that my passion for Unitarian Universalism is not greatly informed by the positive experience I have as the pastor of one of our UUA member congregations.
I have Privilege of Call in the United Church of Christ and have an intimate relationship with the UCC and am well aware that the UCC and the UUA share many “besetting sins.” I also do a tremendous amount of mentoring of ministers in mainline Christian denominations and I consult with Christian congregations. I know full well the grass is not greener anywhere in the religious landscape in America right now. I do not take my frustrations with UUism personally, as I have a good scholarly grasp on our historical context and am able to stand back at any given time and see exactly what’s going on from a broader perspective. Unitarian Universalists tend to think that they are a really unique animal. We are not. Our practices, polity, denominational (associational) structure and forms of worship are firmly in alignment with mainline Protestantism. I’d like for our narrative of belonging to shift from shallow and rejectionist to deep and inspiring.
I hope this for all churches and denominations. We are all expressions of God’s desire to bring us together to be a people. To say that in a non-theistic way, I believe that there is an energy in the universe, a force field, that draws creation toward harmony and wholeness, and that feels to the human organism like love and inner peace. When human individuals and communities align themselves with this energy, it changes them, and they are in turn able to influence their environments to be in further alignment with this beautiful energy. We know this is working when there is the possibility for intellectual, emotional and physical freedom and flourishing for all beings, and enough for all to have their basic needs met for a decent quality of external life. This is my version of the Kingdom of God.
I am working toward that. There are many ways that God brings us together to be a people. The Church is the most dear to my own heart, with the performing arts a close second.
Thanks for asking. I hope this answered your question.