Monday, February 23, 2009

About my faith, part two

This past December, I wrote this post about my faith journey. Here is the link; rather than me retell the whole story again, you can click on it to learn more.

But in this post, I'm going to tell you more about my particular church, why I like it, and the people who shape it.

One of the reasons why I like being a Unitarian Universalist is that no two services are alike. Take this month's services, for example. We began the month of February with a service led by our Covenant of UU Pagans, the "Winter Cross Quarter Fire Festival." This was the service on which I based my "Perspective" post. The following week, we had another lay-led service based on the concept of truth. How do we know what's true? What determines the truth, and why? I participated in last week's service, titled "One Singular Sensation," a service devoted to spirituality and the place single people have in society. I may post my sermon up on the blog, if anyone's interested.

Unitarian Universalism doesn't have a creed, but has its base in Judeo-Christian religious traditions. Basically, it's dedicated to developing and promoting "the inherent worth and dignity in every human being". This is what I love most about my faith, that every human being is valued, regardless of race, color, creed, or sexual orientation.

There are so many people from different backgrounds that attend my church. In addition to the Covenant of UU Pagans, we have atheists, agnostics, humanists, former Catholics, and former Episcopalians at my church. Everyone contributes to the church, and everyone's contributions are welcomed.

Just as important as the diversity of services is to me, the feeling of community I receive from the church is wonderfully enriching. I have made so many new friends in the church. It's a small enough community that if anything happens to anyone, either good or bad, we all rally around for support. We had, for example, a special collection for a family whose mother was fighting breast cancer. We collected over $1200 for this family; an astounding amount, given these tough economic times.

My favorite part of the service is "Joys and Concerns". It's a short part of the service, usually about five or ten minutes, where we share what's going on in our lives, both good and bad. We request prayers, for example, for people who are fighting illnesses, for pregnant women, or for good karma for job interviews. That's how wide it can range. Joys and Concerns helps me bond with my fellow parishoners, and brings us all much closer.

We don't have too many rituals in the church, but the ones that we do have are very interesting. Our church year runs from September to June, same as the school calendar does. At our first formal service of the year, in September, we have what's called "Water Ingathering". Every member of the congregation brings in a water sample from somewhere special to them. We pour all of our water samples into a bowl, and our minister takes it home with her, boils it, and filters it. This water is used for celebrations throughout the year, such as child dedications (our version of baptism). a nutshell, that's the story of my faith. If you have any more questions for me, pass 'em along!

P.S. You may have seen me mention a blogger known as PeaceBang in my posts. She's a UU minister at a congregation in Norwell, Massachusetts and is an absolute riot. Go over to her blog, which is on my blogroll, when you get the chance. PeaceBang rocks!


CDB said...

I'm interested in your sermon. So, everyone takes turns, giving the sermon? What an interesting concept. I appreciate an open congregation like this, it sounds very inviting and non-judgemental.

Mammatalk said...

Just stopping by for a quick Bloggy High Five on my big, Bloggy, Joggy Day! And, oh, what a jog it has been! :-)

Jenners said...

I had bookmarked your church after you posted about it before and now I am even more intrigued. I just need to do something about it.

Mel said...

I'm like Jenners: very intrigued. I attended a couple of writing workshops at a Unitarian church here in Charlotte and gathered a bunch of leaflets they had displayed, but I never got around to looking at them. I'll have to dig them up and read them. I love the idea of diversity and nonjudgemental feeling I get from what you've written about it. Those are the two things that have always bothered me most about the churches I've attended. Thanks for sharing this piece of you with us!

Jodi said...

That is SO interesting! I would love to read your sermon.

I think that is fabulous about helping out that family. How interesting about the water too. It is very interesting to read about. I really appreciate you posting about this. I love to hear about different religions.

How many people normally attend a service?