In Seach of a New Church Home: Unitarian Universalism.

Via on Apr 22, 2012

A Review of The Unitarian Universalist Church:

Since Sarah thought that Easter might be a big disruption to the normal goings-on in the Christian circuit, Easter Sunday she set us up with a Unitarian Universalist Church. They go for every religion, and that was a big new idea for me, so we spent two weeks checking it out.

In order to help us process our search we like to focus on these criteria:

Beauty

Joy

Children’s Ministries

Music

Preaching

Body

Green

Outreach

Spirituality

Travel

The score for each category is based on a scale of 0-10 points, with the final total being compiled out of 100.

(Bonus points are awarded by Sarah for availability of coffee and snacks)

*My comments (Joana) will be in regular type and Sarah’s are in italics.

*     *     *

I give 7/10 for availability of coffee and snacks. They were brewing Guatemalan fair trade coffee which was wicked good, and serving it in Real Live Mugs Made Out Of Pottery! Snacks were available and homemade and only cost a buck. After the service, there was a lovely full lunch available for purchase. Next time I’m staying for lunch.

*     *     *

(I just have to add, below is Sarah’s daughter—who has been living some sort of parallel existence to my daughter since she was born—she has always been the model for her mommy’s blog. I (heart) traveling with a cute model on board).

As an individual I have felt drawn toward faith, but repulsed and repelled by the overwhelming, in-your-faceness of the bullshit dogma. Like, don’t follow your heart, don’t follow your conscience, don’t ask questions or use your brain, just do as you are told, and think as we tell you, because we know best. Be a sheep, or go to Hell. It is no coincidence that many religious figures refer to their congregation as a flock.


It is no surprise then that I really feel drawn to the Unitarians, and the idea of taking the very best of religions, and making it my own. I want to be able to be embraced within a community that encourages me to develop my own relationship with god, my own interpretation of various scriptures, my own definition of heaven, hell, or purgatory. I put this at the beginning, because I think my own attraction to the Unitarian way is likely to color my feelings about other stuff we experienced Sunday, and maybe cause me to give the Unitarians a more favorable review than I otherwise might. So you have been warned, take my opinions with a grain of salt.

The Unitarian church we visited is located centrally in the Museum district, in a building that looks sort of mid-century modern at it’s heart, but has perhaps grown sort of organically over the course of time. You enter through the steps, and under a gay pride flag, up into a slightly overgrown courtyard with a lovely water fall in the far corner.

The main sanctuary is minimalist, clean lines, with a small, well lit stage at the front. On the back wall, where you would usually find some sort of disgusting depiction of poor old Jesus stuck to a cross was instead a beautiful sculpture of birds taking flight. Each bird was pointing a different direction, which I assume is representative of the Unitarian’s outward looking views. there was nothing Ornate about it, no guilded walls, no cage for the choir, no imposing lectern from which a fat old man speaks of fire and brimstone.

I like clean, naked lines, with minimal decoration, I have an overwhelming hatred of things that are ornate or overdone. That said, nothing about the space really struck me as super duper beautiful. Pretty? Yes. Functional? Yes. Awesome? Yes. Beautiful? Sort of. I’m going to say 7/10 for beauty.

*     *     *

The building was from the outside was square-ish, red brick—not particularly lovely—but inside there’s a wall of windows in practically every room that let lots of light in, and I think daylight is the most beautiful light you can have.

I also found this this 20′ high wall painted hot pink. I know with what abandon it takes to say, “I’m going to bring this color into my space indefinitely…I like it that much” because I’ve been painting rooms in my own house with bright colors this past week, and I applaud the UU for going for it.

I really felt the joy here. The enthusiastic welcome we received, the easy conversation and laughter in the coffee room, the nice folks who appointed themselves our wing-men, and the sermon which was filled with laughter, there was a wonderful sense of joy surrounding the congregation. I loved the part of the services where we introduce ourselves to the people around us and instead of just mumbling something about peace Be on you or Salam Alaikum, people actually introduced themselves, and chatted or laughed together for a moment. 

I”m going to say 10/10 for Joy. I would give more if I could. What do you think JO?

*     *     *

When we slid in late on Easter Sunday about six people turned around and started talking to us simultaneously. Asking us if we got the crayons and paper, if I wanted to send the girls to Sunday school, just saying hello. Everywhere, the people were smiling…

There is a kitchen which serves breakfast after the first service, lunch after the second—and it’s a good one—for $5. And I have to say, I have never seen anything like this! A small-ish church community that keeps a kitchen running which offers two full meals every Sunday on real china plates. It’s actually, bizarrely wonderful.

Not everyone there was eating a full meal, but every table was filled with people deep in conversation with each other—another mystifying sight. People seemed genuinely interested in one another—they knew each other—and were still interested! I think it’s part of their faith as UU. These are outwardly focused people; they are into discussing anything. If you believe something different it doesn’t intimidate them, it interests them.

Sometimes there is a problem I’ve seen happen in a church community. When you get used to coming to the same place every week and seeing the same set of faces one can start to forget what the world outside is like—that it’s freer and more diverse than the one under your roof and four walls.

It can be like a family in that there are some wonderful things. You get to watch people’s kids grow-up in front of your eyes, take care of each other, see each other through the seasons of life. But there are also drawbacks. A church can be like a bubble;  people start to take each other for granted and look at each other sideways. There can also be this “assimilate or die” attitude that comes into the picture. Maybe it comes with forgetting that we’re actually connected to something bigger, Love.

I asked one of the members if it was “like this” every Sunday,  and they replied, “Oh, yes. The tables in the meeting hall are packed after the 1st and the 2nd services”  So, definitely… people voluntarily hanging around eating, plus conversation, for me, that’s Joy. 10/10!

During the handshake portion of the service the little girl sitting in front of us turned around and showed us her sketching of Michaelangelo’s famous painting, penises and all.  Penises in Church? And everybody thinks it’s awesome? These people might be my people.

I don’t have a lot to contribute to the children commentary, except to say that I think my kid had a pretty good time. The Children’s coordinator was wonderful, and the selection of songs we sang with the kids were really creative. 8/10 for children

*     *     *

When I was a child, growing up, we used to sing a little song in my Church that went like this:

The B-I-B-L-E. Yes that’s the book for me,

I stand alone on the Word of God,

the B-I-B-L-E..

Bible!

Now, I think, how damaging is that to a child’s worldview. How narrow. If we are ever going have a chance of World Peace we cannot continue this exclusive, someone has-the-in-with-God type thinking.

The children’s education in the UU really sounded impressive. Their usual routine is to study stories throughout the year from each of the major world religions until they have basically covered them all. I think that this is a real cultivation of a child’s mind in that it exposes them from a young age to many different faiths, letting them see the differences, and similarities, rather than indoctrinating them into one, saying, “Ours is the best one/right one.”

Out of the two Sundays that I sat in, one they studied the story of the Good Samaritan from the Bible and the other (which was Easter) they loaded up a bunch of wagons with food, made colorful signs and then stopped traffic on church row, parading their wagons down through the front door of the Emergency Aid Shelter. The kids were quite excited, all except for my kids, it seemed.

I kept thinking that it was maybe because they missed Easter at our home church. I am missing our home church madly, too. I miss the people. I miss the check-in. But because of some unfortunate things that happened I can’t go back. I am sorry.

I enjoyed the music, which was provided by a small and informally dressed Choir. There were no massive, rousing, philharmonic masterpieces, but the music was accessible and easy for a tone-deaf and talentless hack such as myself to sing along to.  5/10

*     *     *

The theme for the second Sunday we visited was “The UU View of Sabbath,” so a few of the songs had a really Jewish-y sound, and that was fun. It made me wonder if the music changes based on “the religious tradition of the week” there often.

One coincidence that happened was that they sang “Rivers of Babylon” for the postlude, and Sublime’s version had come on my iPod that very morning as I was getting ready…I love that song!

By the rivers of Babylon
Where we sat down
And there we wept
When we remembered Zion

Oh, for the wicked carry us away
Captivity required from us a song
How can we sing King Alpha’s song in a strange land?

The week I went, the sermon was addressing the idea of the Sabbath. The concept of resting, relaxing, listening, and taking a sabbatical, however brief, from your every day responsibilities. The guys at the front, who delivered the sermons and readings were engaging speakers, making an effort to make eye contact with every person in the room. The sermon went from serious to intellectual, to somber to outright hilarious.

The preacher was discussing the way that religious scholars had, by the time of the birth of Jesus, managed to compile a list of 1,600 activities that were prohibited on the sabbath. There was, evidently, another list of similar size that could be referred to by the faithful regarding permissible and encouraged activities. He mentioned that one of the encouraged activities was to engage in sexual relations with your partner. from the back of the church, came the shout of a happy man “Yesss!!!!” and everybody burst out laughing. Peals of un-selfconcious laughter, hoots, and squeals resonated through the church. Joyous. it was lovely.

The sermon continued, touching on the Jewish tradition of providing your fields a sabbatical, touching on how we interact with the world on the whole, touching on various faiths and cultures traditions regarding rest. There was continued laughter, merriment, etc… everybody was happy, the sermon was free of judgmental dogma and fire and brimstone bullshit. It was right about this time that I was like “well f*ck me…. I am a Unitarian” Who knew? I always thought I was just a really bad Muslim. 8/10

*     *     *

It was kind of strange to be visiting the Unitarian Church on Easter, because my entire life I’ve based my beliefs on the notion of Jesus dying on Good Friday, his spirit descending into Hell for three days—during which he ministered to the Dead before his body raised again (spirit intact) on Easter Sunday—Alleluia! After that, he stayed on ‘earth’ for 40 days making appearances to his followers, at the end of which he ascended into the clouds to be with his Father in Heaven.

When I say ‘earth,’ I am talking about the place you and I inhabit now. When I say “Heaven” I mean someplace different, and “hell” is also different. We don’t know exactly what it all means, but I got the idea that the Universalists don’t subscribe to any of it. Although I’m sure they would accept me in spite of my beliefs, for them I’m pretty sure there is no resurrection, no heaven, no hell. This is all that there is.

 Rev. Daniel’s style was impressionistic; snippets, anecdotes, fragments of ideas rather than one finely honed idea pitched and coming at you, Bing, Bang, Boom! Generally, I think that’s what a sermon is for: Show me an idea, help me get my head around it, and then Make Me Believe. Even if I disagree, it’s nice to hear a pastor try—I guess it’s a high bar to set, but it’s the center ring, man—Show Me The Love!

I know we’ve praised tolerance a lot in this post, but I don’t think I want to sacrifice passion at its expense. The Gospel is a story of Love and Passion (John 3:16), and maybe that’s why I’ll always be a Christian in my heart.

Every week they have “The Big Idea,” and I liked that. It didn’t make me feel passionately, but I like ideas.

I’ve combined various sermon impressions from the two weeks below.

One hour into writing, I feel a need to send the following open letter to the editors at elephant journal: I Hate your blog design interface. It makes me want to light myself on fire. That is all.

Moving on: the Body. The downtown Unitarian church is a small, intimate community. The kind of community I feel at home in. I grew up in a small town, my graduating class was 40 people, I have never been, prior to Houston, in a place where everyone didn’t know my name. So I felt very at home in this small church setting. The body was casual, no one was wearing uncomfortable fancy clothes. The kids were rocking tie-dye shirts, or everyday dresses, the guitarists for the choir wore Hawaiian shirts.  People introduced themselves to me everywhere, in a kind and genuinely interested way. There was no Zombie Like, or Cultish “Join Us….” crap. Everything was genuine, sincere, and relaxed. 10/10

*     *     *

I spoke with two different women who had found the Unitarian church out of a compromise with an atheist partner, so it’s definitely a church that’s popular with atheists.

I also met a Heterosexual couple who had actually created their own new last name! They didn’t want to hyphenate, so they just made up a new one! Unitarians are people who seem to be living life on their own terms, without regret, without judgement and I think it makes them happy. It also makes them want to get together a lot socially. There were tons of upcoming events, and they were working hard on getting Sarah and I to come to some of them; an informational meeting with food, wine and dessert for people interested in finding more about what the UU believes, and also a book club.

Also, since 1970 the UU has been enacting resolutions in support of bisexual, gay, lesbian and transgender relations. In 1996, the UU was the first mainline denomination to support legal marriage between same sex partners. In 1989, there was a resolution made that the 1970 resolution language of “supporting  bisexual, gay, lesbian, transgender” was not strong enough, and instead they became a “Welcoming Congregation,” hence the flags everywhere.

If you are gay you should really think about going here! It’s terrible to be in the closet (or even, too self-conscious) about anything, not just your sexuality. I’ve been a closet Mommie Revolutionary for three years now.

 

The coffee really was great. I got to enjoy precisely one sip before my two-year old, Noa spilled it. I ended up on hands and knees cleaning—until Mr. Sexton arrived with his mop. But I have to say—Real Mugs!

It’s a funny thing sometimes, being indoctrinated into a belief your whole life that God knows everything you do. Right, wrong, He’s watching, and if you mess up he’ll know. When I was a kid I took it so literally that I used to keep a tally to make sure that I wasn’t doing anything that Jesus wouldn’t do.

But now that I’m older, I realize how messed up that is. Your ethics can’t be based on pleasing someone else, you have to do the things for yourself. Whether it’s choosing cloth diapers, or to forego the Styrofoam coffee cup, or to buy fair trade or to not be a part of making traffic. Clean air and earth are good for us. One of the main Unitarian Universalist doctrines is “We live in harmony with the Earth, because our love for it and it’s beauty are what sustain us.” That made a lot of sense to me.

On that note, The parking lot was pretty packed, and I didn’t see a bike rack outside, but I didn’t really look for one either, because I didn’t ride my bike! The church was only four miles from my house and I could have, but it was Sunday morning, and laziness, Sunday clothes and and offer from Sarah to drive kept me from it. So now everyone knows, I am a hypocrite—and there’s really no reason to be, because,

I hate cars!   !   !   !   !   !   !   !   !   !   !   ! I love riding my bike. That’s living, just gotta do it.

Green 10/10

 “We are a get-out-and-do church.” Said the greeter to me the first Sunday. And it’s true, they had an entire table of sign-up sheets, and half of their offering for each week they give to a charity. For complete list of their outreach ministries, click here.

The following photos were taken during the kids Easter morning parade to the Emergency Aid Shelter. It was interesting to walk down Fannin Street and see ‘church row!’ But strangely, it’s not even the only one in town! There’s actually another ‘church row’ even closer to my house.

It just made me wonder, with all those churches so close together, why wouldn’t they want to join forces or something? Or, at least get out and meet up sometime.

Outreach 10/10

I loved walking into a church beneath the colors of a rainbow flag. I don’t need to walk beneath a crescent, beneath a cross, beneath the goddamn flag of Texas in order to attend church. Let’s not just be inclusive, let’s celebrate gayness, weirdness, awesomeness, differentness, let’s actively seek out those around us who want to worship. Let’s be a rainbow.  10/10.

*      *     *

Amen, sister…

Here’s Sarah, on the floor with the kids, looking lovely at church—I love my new church-visiting partner.

The Church is located at 5200 Fannin Street in the Museum District, right across from the light-rail line (but you have to walk four blocks from the nearest stop) which is the Museum District stop.

However, the Houston Museum of Fine Art has just started something called Fine Art Food Trucks, so if you’re hungry after services you could walk while you discuss faith and spirituality, and then pick up a bowl of something from The Rice Box—which is the food truck they have stationed across from the MFA on Sundays.

Here’s the link to directions, buses, parking everything. It’s easy.

I give them 10/10 for travel.

First Unitarian Universalist Church of Houston:

raw score: 88/100,

with bonus points, 95/100! Whoa, baby…

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~

Editor: Kate Bartolotta

About Joana Smith

Who I'd like to meet: Superman's Children, eco-warriors, truck drivers, persephone, roller derby queens, nurses, scientists, givers, priests, yogi, storytellers, people who don't know right now, playwrights, philosophers, people who are more visual, people who hop trains, performers, poets, seamstresses, activists, Spider-Man, kids, rangers, Snow White, dj's, massage therapists, people who work with their hands, bunnies, sportsracers, people who work in offices, dancers, baristas, artists, cleaners, climbers, Jeff's sister, Colbert, Skiers, Bikers, skaters, surfers, ani, people who are recovering, trees (and flowers), people who will die soon, gardeners, horses, Jolie-Pitt, soon-to-be mothers, margie's daughter, astronomers, people who are scared, girls who wear black and listen to the Smiths, cuffmakers, lambs, Miranda July, the man in the moon, Bono, people from 'round here, Obama...

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40 Responses to “In Seach of a New Church Home: Unitarian Universalism.”

  1. thekitchenboy says:

    thank you so much for this post! i've been curious about UU for awhile. great to get your insight – i am inspired to go explore for myself! also (as usual) adore the visual assemblage.

  2. Thanks for this, Joana. Like thekitchenboy, I've been curious about UU. My Shambhala center is almost an hour away now that I've moved & like the idea of an open-minded spiritual community with activities for my kids.

  3. Lots of timely food for thought for me in this. I've checked some UU churches in the past and didn't have anywhere near as great an experience as you seem to have had.

    But I'm starting my own more series shopping soon and there are a couple of Boston UU churches high on my list and your post is giving me hope on that front.

    It's nice following your journey because it is not easy finding a spiritual community that you want to call come. I've certainly struggled with that in my life.

  4. MamasteNJ says:

    Joana,I love this.
    :One hour into writing, I feel a need to send the following open letter to the editors at elephant journal: I Hate your blog design interface. It makes me want to light myself on fire. That is all."
    xoxo
    ~Mamaste

  5. David D. says:

    Great way to share your experience. I too was angry with the religion of my upbringing when my wife and I started attending UU churches some 30 odd years ago. And it has been a wonderful relationship. And as I have come to terms with my Christianity, I began to see some of the hypocrisy in UUism touched on by your comments about people "whooping it up" when fun being made of some Christian views. Therein lies "the rub" for me. We UUs sometimes get carried away with "how wonderful" we are. As long as we keep that at the forefront of our identify we will continue to be small and inconsequential. I now identify myself as a Christian Universalist and realize the discomfort that creates for some UUs who have gaciously asked me "wouldn't you be more comfortable in a more Christian church?" My answer is a resounding no! I want to live it here.

    • Claire says:

      There's definitely a lot of "how wonderful we are" at UU churches. I grew up UU (we first went to a UU at 1st Church Houston!) and I'm more, say, accustomed to all the wonders and foibles than a lot of people who come into UU once they're adults – folks who have often been put off of their religion of origin and do a lot of comparing.

      Each church is certainly different, but also Texas churches are a lot less tolerant of Christian UUs than some of the other churches I've attended in the Northeast. I've been to Boston churches and live in Brooklyn NY, where the church is (and I think also the other area churches are) more OK with the Christian theology, especially on big holidays like Christmas, Palm Sunday, and Easter. When I went to First UU the choir wore robes! And the guitarist in one of the pictures looks so much like my dad, he probably would have been the one playing if you'd been at First Jefferson UU in Fort Worth.

  6. Steve says:

    By the way, there are two bike racks at this church – one on Southmore and one on the 3rd floor deck.

  7. Wendy says:

    Another "by the way" from a First UU member: our music is different from service to service. The early service tends to be more traditional and the second service more eclectic. And yes, we try to make it fit the theme of the day. Glad you liked us!

  8. Donna Rowe says:

    Were you searching in the Boston area? It's my understanding that the UU churches in the northeast tend to be more traditionally Unitarian and formal. Joana visited a UU church in Texas, which would have had more of the informal Universalist influence. There are cultural differences between very proper Massachusetts and Texas, who, like us in Kansas, has the Wild West as a part of its history.

    Please don't give up your search for a church home. Wherever you end up, UU or not, may you blessed.

    • Donna Rowe says:

      "…may you blessed." May you be blessed. Sorry.

    • Yes, in the Boston area. And you're probably right about that being one of the things up here that isn't clicking for me – that traditional and formal (I'm from Virginia originally) aspect.

      Hopefully my spiritual community quest will be more fruitful this time around! :-)

      Thanks!

  9. Ken Puckett says:

    Hey that's me in some of those pics! Yellow Hawaiian shirt.

  10. Gale says:

    I'm a seventh generation Universalist. Even at my home church I have an affectionate reputation as the 'Universalist police." I know it's hard for new comers, and the general public is definitely clueless, but we are properly referred to as UUs or Unitarian Universalists since 1961. Referring to us as Unitarians is like referring to a Southern Baptist as a Southern or a Jehovah's Witness as a Jehovah. I guess since Unitarian is in the adjective position it would still be proper English to call us Universalists, but UU is better.

    • Joana Smith JoanaSmith says:

      Sorry Gale about the misnomer. That's awesome–Unitarian Universalist. I'll remember that!

    • Sarah says:

      That's interesting! My cousins in North Carolina, and friends in Colorado who are UU refer to themselves as Unitarians.

    • Justin says:

      As an LDS, I'd say that referring to us as "Mormons" is like referring to Southern Baptists as "Pauls" — or Jews as "Moses-es" — or Pagans as "Natures" [and Hindus as "Elephants", lol].

      I guess since Latter-day is an adjective, and Mormon refers to a prophet who compiled a set of scriptures — it would still be proper English to call us Saints, or maybe LDS is better. But really I'm just generally turned-off by label police.

      It’s all just a name and a label used for appearance’s sake — it tells people what perception of me I want them to have — but it doesn’t really say anything about me. It's what a false religion does — gives codified stories and approved key-phrases that all lend to the appearance of a community having real experiences — but it’s all just the re-telling of other people’s story — just the putting on of a good show on a stage every week.

      None of these labels gives me any indication about whether a person has experienced Jesus or not. And therefore matters not one iota to me.

      You can call yourself [or be called by others] whatever you want — as Sarah pointed out, there are plenty of Unitarians who don't mind going by "Unitarian" — but I guess all those cousins/friends are just the "new comers" who are not yet properly conformed by members of the Universalist Police on what they ought to be calling themselves.

    • Claire says:

      I wouldn't quite say that it's the same as calling a Southern Baptist a Southern, but it should be noted that they were two denominations, with their own different, originally Christian theologies. And the denominations only merged in the US – both came from Europe originally and the traditions there are way more traditional.

      Unitarian – having to do with the one-ness of God (aka not digging the Trinity)
      Universalist – Universal salvation

      I definitely identify as more Universalist than Unitarian but still find myself sometimes calling us Unitarians, or going with UU, which can also be weird for newcomers.

      MS Word, and apparently Firefox, say that Unitarian is a real word, spelled correctly, but don't think the same of Universalist

  11. Gale says:

    Oh! I should have mentioned that Reverend Daniel used to be the minister at my church.

  12. Dave H says:

    I am a UU in Southern California, and I think it's worth pointing out that diferent UU Churches put different emphasis on music. If you had been to mine, you would have given our music 10/10!

  13. Hi there! I’m at work browsing your blog from my new iphone 4! Just wanted to say I love reading through your blog and look forward to all your posts! Carry on the outstanding work!

  14. Justin says:

    2,372 views
    Comments 17

    Well — the number of views on this post kinda exploded

    • Joana Smith JoanaSmith says:

      It's true Justin– I think that the Unitarian Universalists must have a list or a website someplace this got posted on. This is my most viewed post 'ever.' I keep saying..I have never not worked so hard for views.

      Also, traffic on Elephant is up because of Waylon's frontal nudity photoshoot–and also just because it keeps growing in general. Look! It's already up to 2581…

      And, I just wanted you to know, thanks for all your comments. Sometimes I don't say something back when it seems like it's standing best on it's own. I don't want to water you down. You've had some great ones, you add to me perfectly, and I miss our conversations. Things are getting weird around here.

      Working on a post about "Ecclesia.' It's kind of an 'emergent'-type church with lots of art. Not sure where we'll go next Sunday. I think I want something really spirit-filled this time. I just want to find a home. I'm already weary of traveling.

      We'll get to the LDS one of these days….for sure!

      • Justin says:

        I told Cheryl about your rating system for visiting churches at one of her posts:

        here

        She said, "Oh, I absolutely LOVE Joana's rating system. I am going to steal it. Fantastic."

  15. JoLaine says:

    UU is the next evolutionary step in the development of religion. Our congregation in Gainesville FL has this mantra: It's a blessing you were born, it matters what you do, your experience of the divine is true and you don't have to go it alone.

  16. GabyGYoga says:

    LOVE this review. I became a UU at age 15 and have stayed deeply connected to my UU community for almost 15 years now! Its a big deal b/c I was traveling down the wrong path before I met my UU youth community. I think this is the best environment to raise intelligent, compassionate, & socially responsible kids. UU is about empowering yourself and empowering those around you in an authentic way. Its similar to a lot of Yoga philosophy Ive read.

  17. Melanie C says:

    As a UU mom, I'd like to note you will find lots of like-minded parents there, too. Our fellowship has lots of self-described 'crunchy granola' moms. I have to admit, I can't describe myself that way, but I learn from them all the time. Glad you had a good time. When I greeted at our church, I would tell people they need to visit 3 or 4 times because it can be so very different from week to week.

  18. Andrew Conrad says:

    I've been a happy guest at First UU in Houston for perhaps 3 months now. I just regret that I'm a snowbirder so I get to be a part of this remarkable community for half the year. You'd never know that for the welcome I've received. It's truly a splendid place full of joy and possibilities…

  19. Robert Schaibly says:

    Wow! What a vibrant place! I’m proud I used to be a member (and more)!

    Rev Bob Schaibly

  20. Malcolm Bud Russell says:

    I believe America is based on the idea "That Love Is a Special Way of Feeling" and America should have Rules of American Ethical Conduct so all Americans are playing American by the same rules.I propose a 28th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States that establishes the responsibility rules for all American citizens. This Amendment could be called “The Bill of Responsibilities” or “The American Ethical Conduct Rules”. Maybe President Obama would then know that all Americans are playing American by the same set of patriotic rules. The Bill of Rights (Constitution Amendments 1 through 10) establishes the ethical-conduct responsibilities of the American Government to Americans. There are no ethical conduct rules for Americans. No American would be exempt from following these responsibility rules including the Supreme Court. An example is the Supreme Court’s agreement that Westboro Baptist Church’s disruption of American soldier funerals because they hate homosexuals was acceptable 1st-Amendment “freedom-of-speech” would be judged to be un-American behavior and appropriate discipline invoked.

  21. Malcolm Bud Russell says:

    More on 28th Amenndment:
    This Amendment would be invoked like the driver’s license program with; issue of a Manual to every candidate American, and mandatory knowledge-and-practice proficiency examinations. Passing proficiency grades would be required for qualification as Americans and eligibility for public-office, defender, or law-enforcement group-membership. I would recommend introducing the Manual to American children when they enter the American education program, relentless teaching of the doctrine throughout the Program, and proficiency testing when they leave the Program.

  22. Malcolm Bud Russell says:

    More on 28th Amendment:
    I have developed a suggested “Manual-of-American-Ethical-Conduct-Rules”. This Manual; emphasizes family relationships and the idea that “Love Is a Special Way of Feeling” in clear unambiguous language. It is brief and can be easily tested for completeness. I tested the contents against the following documents: Plato’s philosophy of ethics, Moses’s Ten Commandments, Christ’s Sermon-on-the Mount, The Golden Rule, Paul’s message to the disobedient Corinthians, Washington’s copied “Rules-of-Civility-and Decent Behavior”, American Declaration of Independence, American Constitution, American Bill-of-Rights, American Pledge-of-Allegiance, Lincoln’s Gettysburg-Address, Boy-Scouts-of-America Law, Girl-Scouts-of-America Law, and Anglund’s “Love Is a Special Way of Feeling”.

  23. [...] spending two weeks with the all-inclusive Unitarian Universalists, I was reminded of an important verse from the New Testament where Jesus says, “I am the way, [...]

  24. [...] FROM READERS: Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbia calls new settled minister – (columbia… [...]

  25. Jenny says:

    I find myself envying your experience. It sounds wonderful! I recently attended a UU church for the first time but my experience wasn't as positive as yours. Some things were the same—the fair trade coffee in real cups and the readiness to laugh during the sermon. Others weren't. My eight year old daughter said the children's time mostly consisted of coloring and as she said, "I like coloring but that's a LOT of coloring." To be fair they are looking for a children's director so it was probably a stopgap measure. The singing was very difficult to follow as the four people leading it did not following the timing in the written music and were not confident enough in their singing to carry the congregation with them. Perhaps it is because I live in such a conservative area but the congregation seemed wary of newcomers and at first I thought no one was going to speak to us at all. After the service I was taken aside by the person who was apparently in charge of welcoming guests and given a mini lecture on tolerance for all religions. As I had done nothing more than respond to greetings I don't think this was based on anything I did. It felt patronizing, however, and almost shaming. She knew nothing about me or my reasons for coming and it was strange to have someone assume I would be intolerant when the very reason I chose to attend was because of the UU reputation for tolerance and respect for all. I don't even consider myself a Christian so it was quite odd to be reminded in a hushed, syrupy Sunday school teacher voice that they might have a Hindu or Buddhist come and "we need to be tolerant." All in all, it was not a great experience but your post gives me hope. I may try a UU church in another town.

  26. [...] three church reviews with my friend, Sarah: In Search of a New Church Home: Christchurch Cathedral In Search of a New Church Home: Unitarian Universalism In Search of a New Church Home: Ecclesia (Emerging Church Movement) We were thinking of continuing [...]

  27. Kim L. D. says:

    You know…EVERYTHING can't be true. If every religion is true, then truth has no meaning. A church that says everyone is already good and doing just fine makes a lot of very bad people feel really good about themselves. Churches that place no value on living a holy lifestyle harm those who are victimized by people who think they are just automatically forgiven for everything cause "I'm so good." This invalidates the work of Christ dying on the cross. This church sounds like a very warm and fuzzy place to be, but UU churches lack foundational scripture because anything that makes someone uncomfortable is discarded or ignored. There was a cost paid to ransom the soul of people who are sinful. These churches spend a lot of time focusing on the GOOD of the person and not the good that was done for them by Jesus.

  28. -The second section of the test is a practical analysis.

    For instance, a school nurse gets a fixed salary with small yearly increases, but gets excellent benefits from the

    state or county that includes a generous vacation package and retirement plan. After all,

    what good is training if your news skills do not get used.

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