or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Mom › Talk Amongst Ourselves › Spirituality › Summer Unitarian Universalist Thread - All Welcome
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Summer Unitarian Universalist Thread - All Welcome

post #1 of 97
Thread Starter 
Welcome to the Summer support, community, information, conversation, and fun thread for UUs and UU curious.

Here is the link to the previous Spring thread.

Come on in and say "Hi", ask a question, tell a story, or feel free to just lurk for awhile.

Summer is the time when many UU ministers take a vacation, and it sometimes seems that our congregations kind of take a church vacation too. I am a big believer in having summer be a time of relaxation and fun and a break from the rest of the year (I will never be a supporter of year-round school), but I don't stop being a Unitarian Universalist when it gets hot outside. How do you "practice" Unitarian Universalism in the summer?

I have been focusing most of my church service energy on getting the hang of being the Religious Services Committee Chair. I had fun coming up with hymn options and finding meditation words for the church member who is doing a lay-led service next Sunday. I have been listening to a lot of Spiritual music on Pandora and I love seeing what "liking" one song will cause Pandora to present me with next. I was surprised to find that one song I had liked that was new to me was actually a hymn in Singing the Living Tradition. Here is the first verse of a different hymn from StLT: #51 "Lady of the Seasons' Laughter" (Words by Kendyl L. R. Gibbons, music by David Hurd):

Quote:
Lady of the seasons' laughter, in the summer's warmth be near;
When the winter follows after, teach our spirits not to fear.
Hold us in your steady mercy, Lady of the turning year.
Wishing you all a season of warmth, beauty, peace, joy, and love.




Adele
post #2 of 97
Thanks everyone for the congrats. Even though the Summer is upon us and many of the congregation members are getting ready to head out on vacations, there are still things around here that are buzzing. We have a member of the congregation participating in Pastors for Peace and we also have the yearly Pride Parade happening. There is also lots of planning for next year that is happening.

Our RE program is tiny. There is my DD (3 in September) so mostly childcare and we had a visiting child last week (maybe he'll come back?) and the one youth who just did the bridging ceremony, so now young adult. Voila! We need to work on that. I want to go into the RE room (if they will let me) and make it more kid-friendly. Sometimes there are lamps by the window with the electrical cords hanging down and other things people haven't thought about with little ones.

Has anyone used the Harvesting the Power Tapestry of Faith curriculum at their congregation?
post #3 of 97
subbin'!!!
post #4 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by Adele_Mommy View Post
I have been listening to a lot of Spiritual music on Pandora and I love seeing what "liking" one song will cause Pandora to present me with next. I was surprised to find that one song I had liked that was new to me was actually a hymn in Singing the Living Tradition.
That's awesome! How did you find that station?? Every time I've tried to search for some spiritual music on pandora or grooveshark, I wind up with Christian inspirational music and give up.
post #5 of 97
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by treehugz View Post
That's awesome! How did you find that station?? Every time I've tried to search for some spiritual music on pandora or grooveshark, I wind up with Christian inspirational music and give up.
Well, it's kind of an on-going process!

On Pandora I listen to a custom station I created. I like folk songs and traditional spirituals, so there actually is some Christian music on my station, but whenever it starts to head toward Christian inspirational I am persistent about clicking the thumbs down until Pandora gets the idea and goes back to what I like.

I started by creating a station and seeding it with a couple specific songs. The hymn from StLT I mentioned above is #357 -Bright Morning Stars. On my station I have a great version by Crossing North. There are actually lots of hymns in StLT that are traditional hymns sung in mainstream Protestant churches and you can find some wonderful versions on Pandora that I really enjoy listening to. One example is #126 - Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing. I listen to a version by Fiddlesticks. Then I started discovering songs I didn't know that are spiritual and many have Christian imagery in the lyrics, but they are not what I would call Christian inspirational and I really like them. I like Northern Cross by Dar Williams. One Voice was the special music at a service at our church awhile back and I found a version I liked by The Wailin' Jennys. Now I have a station of spiritual music with a wide variety of songs. I have other stations on Pandora too, but I have mostly been listening to this one recently.

HTH!
post #6 of 97
Thread Starter 
I forgot to mention in my post on music a couple artists you might like whose songs my minister uses frequently for Small Groups, services, etc.

David Wilcox
Susan Werner

Pandora says Susan's album The Gospel Truth "may just be the world's first gospel recording for agnostics."
post #7 of 97
I've never heard of Pandora, that will be interesting to investigate.

I have a question for you all. I started going to my local UU church a while ago, and have been attending pretty regularly for about a year now. I'm starting to get to know people, but not well enough to strike up a conversation in coffee hour about what the service was about that day (which is something I"m usually dyign to do, but spend more time excusing myself and DD after she runs around looking for cookies and banging on the piano).

We had a program over the school year called coming of age for older teens/young adults. They then created a service based on their experiences and published a booklet with all their own ideas about beliefs - faith statements I guess. Not one of them believed in anything along the lines of somethign divine.

That really bothered me. I know there's a big group of people who are atheists in my church, but really didn't expect to see this high a proportion. I figured there would be a kid or two who talked about some kind of divine entity, maybe a pagan kid talking about nature as god or something. But what it all boiled down to, more than anything, seemed to me to be a rejection of the Judeo-Christian etc based god. Rejection of the god of the heavens standing over and punishing with his son that he sent for a glimmer of hope. It seemed there were more rejections in the faith statement than anything positive. Few affirmations, or branching out in an idea of something cosmic out there that isn't anthromorphic crabby dad. I suppose I'd expect that of kids who were raised Christian or whatnot, but I didn't expect it of kids raised UU. I thought UU kids would have a broader religious sense, something that doesn't boil down to "here's what we're not."

And now I find myself disgruntled that there's the general sense of being atheist because we're not Christian, rather than I'm a UU-fill-in-the-blank because one book does not hold all there is to know about the divine. I"m one of the latter.

Do you find this general atheism in many/most UU churches?
post #8 of 97
Teenytoona, I have the same worries. We went to the local UU church once and the "sermon" was on science and basically how there was no God...not really a comfortable place for my Christian/Pagan self to be.
post #9 of 97
The UU congregation we attend has a very humanist perspective. Many of the members decided that felt right for them after being raised in strict Christian homes. I was at a choir practice and one woman complained the whole time when we sang one passage because it sounded bilical. That bothered me a lot. I do come from a Catholic background (not strongly enforced) and even though I don't identify that way, I still love the music (often I will change a few words to make it fit for me). There is still a lot for me to appreciate even if that isn't my path.

There may be members who do believe something different but they don't voice their opinions.

Teenytoona - how is the rest of the RE program? Are there a few adults leading it? What are there personal beliefs? I am not saying they are purposely shaping their beliefs but sometimes it can come out anyways. How about doing some activities at home to supplement or have an open discussion. If you believe in the divine, you can share that with your little (or littles) and let them know that you support their beliefs no matter what they are. There can also be peer pressure to fit in so someone in the coming of age group might feel too shy to stand out from the crowd, even if they are told it is open and welcoming.

Since DD is the only child, we haven't explored too much yet in terms of RE. I am looking at the tapestry of faith curriculums or at least some stories so we can start to have a focus. Even if it is just an art project and story. She will only be 3 in September so I want to follow her pace but at least be prepared. One thing I really like about the tapestry of faith stuff is the take home activities to do with family. It really comes full circle in that respect. They are available for free download if anyone wanted to explore.
post #10 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by Moonprysm View Post
Teenytoona, I have the same worries. We went to the local UU church once and the "sermon" was on science and basically how there was no God...not really a comfortable place for my Christian/Pagan self to be.
I don't mind that there are atheists, but I don't like that it's the dominant thread, and that it's more defined less as atheism and more as "we're NOT Christian" Atheism. Which is a whole different thing. It drives me crazy that people who leave Christianity then define themselves as atheists. As if the bible's god is the only concept of the divine available.

Quote:
Originally Posted by singin_angel View Post
The UU congregation we attend has a very humanist perspective. Many of the members decided that felt right for them after being raised in strict Christian homes. I was at a choir practice and one woman complained the whole time when we sang one passage because it sounded bilical. That bothered me a lot. I do come from a Catholic background (not strongly enforced) and even though I don't identify that way, I still love the music (often I will change a few words to make it fit for me). There is still a lot for me to appreciate even if that isn't my path.

There may be members who do believe something different but they don't voice their opinions.

Teenytoona - how is the rest of the RE program? Are there a few adults leading it? What are there personal beliefs? I am not saying they are purposely shaping their beliefs but sometimes it can come out anyways. How about doing some activities at home to supplement or have an open discussion. If you believe in the divine, you can share that with your little (or littles) and let them know that you support their beliefs no matter what they are. There can also be peer pressure to fit in so someone in the coming of age group might feel too shy to stand out from the crowd, even if they are told it is open and welcoming.

Since DD is the only child, we haven't explored too much yet in terms of RE. I am looking at the tapestry of faith curriculums or at least some stories so we can start to have a focus. Even if it is just an art project and story. She will only be 3 in September so I want to follow her pace but at least be prepared. One thing I really like about the tapestry of faith stuff is the take home activities to do with family. It really comes full circle in that respect. They are available for free download if anyone wanted to explore.
I'm not sure about the rest of the RE program. I know there are at least 5 people on the committee and then a director. I know they do lots of different things. I've not looked into much because DD's just 2 and loves the nursery and the lady who looks after them. My older DSC go with DH to his church. I always intend to do little thigns with DD, but then never get around to it. Gotta work that out.

Our church is fairly humanist too. I don't mind that, but I do mind that there's so much "we're atheists because we reject Christianity" floating around. I'd rather see 2 thigns happen: that the concept of divine be expanded from "white guy in the sky" and thus reject it to something more abstract that's embraceable to many. Seems like so many atheists are just anti-biblical god. And then the second one is I'd like to see more faith expressions being about what their faith is, rather than what their faith is not. I feel like defining yourself in what your not has a negative energy that can drag you down.
post #11 of 97
Thread Starter 
We recently had our Coming of Age service too. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend, but what I heard from others was that the vast majority of the kids identified themselves as atheist or agnostic, but every single one of them gave "Unitarian Universalist" as his/her primary self-identification.

This is just my opinion, but I see this as partially due to the nature of being a teenager. It is kind of a time of rejecting things, particularly ideas or systems viewed as "authority".

We do have a strong humanist element among the adults in our church, but as our congregation has grown, the mix has become somewhat more balanced. Some members of our church identify as Jewish or Christian. I will admit we do not have a very strong pagan influence in our church.

Because so many people become UU after being raised other religions, and most of those "other religions" are Christian, I think an attitude of rejecting Christianity is going to be common in UU churches. I agree that this is not a particularly healthy or welcoming attitude, and our minister has mentioned it as a problem and something we all need to work on more than once.

I think kids raised UU are taught a lot about other religions and they are not told what to think (doctrine). I think this is a good thing, but defining one's own theology is a long and difficult process. I know I went through a stage where it seemed like all I was sure of is what I was NOT. I would learn about a religion and say well this element and that element do not make sense to me. After college I knew I was not Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Pagan, Hindu, Taoist, or Jewish and I was also not as comfortable with the atheist label I was raised with and always considered myself!

I see UU as a religion that allows for changing perspectives and a view of spirituality as a journey. I think the stage of contemplating the possibility of an idea of the divine that is outside that offered by any organized religion, even nature-based religions, is a pretty late stage in that journey and beyond the reach of most, if not all young teenagers.

This is not to say that there definitely isn't an unhealthy dominance by the atheists in your church. There could be. I think there used to be at my church and it is getting better now. I just think what the kids say at their coming of age does not necessarily indicate that.
post #12 of 97
Hi.

I am thinking of joining our UU church here and I have some questions. We're Wiccan, but my children are surrounded by so many faiths (Godmother is Buddhist, Godfather is Muslim, friends are other faiths). I am also looking for community and activities with adults and activities for my kids.

One question is about pledging. We right now have nothing. Dh was laid off, I'm pregnant and looking for work IF I can get one, and so money is not possible to give. If we can't do it, will we be told to leave? I was raised Christian and I remember if people didn't give money, they pastor would have the doors locked until all gave.

My second is about sermons. Are they merely focused on Christian faith or do they take from all, including pagan? Will the same be for the children groups?

And finally, what is it about the UU that you love the most? And that you dislike the most? How do you feel about it when it comes to family friendly, homeschool friendly, and child friendly. Are they open to gender expression, orientation, race, socio-economic, religion, etc.?

Thanks.
post #13 of 97
Unschoolingmom - Our congregation won't ask you to leave if you can't pledge or even if you can't pledge a lot. What is important is that we share in community with each other.

As for services, we have quite a diversity. I too am Wiccan (trained as gardnerian) but we have services on a variety of topics. Some were about services in our area that reach out to teens on the street, others were about the Oceans and the dead zones (and how we can help), I led a Summer Solstice service (cast a Circle and everything). Here is the link to my congregation's website and there are past newsletters so you can see what the topics were (or going to be). http://www.donheights.ca There is even talk right now for a service that is all about playing and members are encouraged to bring children/grandchildren and have fun. We have done very little based in the Christian faith but we did have an Easter service but the way the minister framed it made it very inclusive and gave me a new perspective about the holiday.

I can honestly say that they are very welcoming. Our congregation marches in the pride parade, use inclusive language, etc. We don't have any children other than my DD I can say that I've breastfed during service and no one has said anything about it (she was definately over 2years). Many of the members are elderly and they don't have a great deal of income. That has never been an issue because they love to help out doing other things (one man always comes early to vacuum the carpet). There is a library that you can take books out from and programming is free (or if there is a cost it can be waived).

Hope that gives you a little bit of info!
post #14 of 97
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by unschoolinmom View Post
Hi.

I am thinking of joining our UU church here and I have some questions. We're Wiccan, but my children are surrounded by so many faiths (Godmother is Buddhist, Godfather is Muslim, friends are other faiths). I am also looking for community and activities with adults and activities for my kids.
Welcome to the thread, unschoolinmom! What a lot of great questions! I will try to answer them one at a time, but be aware that UU is a congregational religion and churches vary a lot. I will give you my perspective and experiences and I'm sure other regulars on this thread will chime in too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by unschoolinmom View Post
One question is about pledging. We right now have nothing. Dh was laid off, I'm pregnant and looking for work IF I can get one, and so money is not possible to give. If we can't do it, will we be told to leave? I was raised Christian and I remember if people didn't give money, they pastor would have the doors locked until all gave.
You will never be told to leave because of money. The pastor seriously locked the doors?? I find that outrageous! If you actually join a church you will be expected to pledge something, even if it is just a nominal amount, but you can (and in my opinion should) attend a church for awhile before becoming a member. During this time you can participate in all the activities of the church including services, small groups, religious education - everything except vote at the annual meeting. If you are not a member you are not expected to pledge (though you can pledge without being a member if you wanted to for some reason). The church will probably pass the basket during the service, but there is absolutely no obligation to put anything in and lots of people don't at any given service. At my church firsttime visitors are encouraged to let the basket pass because they are guests.

If you become very involved with the church, I'm sure you will want to give to support the church as soon as you are in a position where you are able to do so. My church understands that people's situations change.

Quote:
Originally Posted by unschoolinmom View Post
My second is about sermons. Are they merely focused on Christian faith or do they take from all, including pagan? Will the same be for the children groups?
This is probably where UU churches vary the most, but very few are overtly Christian. At my church the structure of services is like a mainstream Protestant service, but the content absolutely is not. Readings come from a variety of sources and are only from the Bible a few times a year. At my particular church there is not a lot of emphasis on pagan elements, but there is some. You can find groups of UUs with a pagan perspective through the Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans (CUUPS).

Religious Education also varies tremendously from church to church. There is a set of new curricula put out by the Unitarian Universalist Association called Tapestries of Faith. You can find out more about these curricula here. This page outlines the children's RE courses offered this year at my church. My daughter adored the You the Creator class. Not listed on this page is a class she took last year called Experiences with the Web of Life that is heavily nature based and that she really liked as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by unschoolinmom View Post
And finally, what is it about the UU that you love the most? And that you dislike the most? .
Wow. Well, first know that I love my church so much. When I first found UU it felt like a coming home, a discovery of what I had been all along. The thing I love most about my church is the sense of belonging and community it gives me and my daughter. I have made so many friends there and I feel loved and cared about. I love watching my dd blossom and seeing how she feels safe there. I love having a group of people who share my values, if not necessarily my beliefs, to share the richness of life with. I like having an institution that gives ritual to my life, acknowledges celebrations and milestones, and provides a time and place to be spiritual.

Dislike? Well, a church is a group of human beings and as such it is necessarily flawed. There are people at my church that I don't really like on a personal level and that's always going to be the case. Regarding the UU faith - I am not a big fan of the attitude that there is something wrong with the fact that our congregations tend to skew to highly educated people who value intellectualism.

Quote:
Originally Posted by unschoolinmom View Post
How do you feel about it when it comes to family friendly, homeschool friendly, and child friendly. Are they open to gender expression, orientation, race, socio-economic, religion, etc.?
My particular church is extremely family friendly, but not all UU churches are and mine has not always been. This is an area where you do need to shop around if possible.

Regarding gender expression and sexual orientation UU goes beyond open to complete whole-hearted acceptance. I have never heard of a UU church that was not this way, but you can identify UU churches that are particularly welcoming by the Welcoming Congregation logo. My church is a Welcoming Congregation. What I like best in this regard about my church is that my daughter is growing up thinking this attitude is totally ordinary. When she was much younger a cousin made some comment about how a girl couldn't marry a girl, and my dd responded simply and honestly that yes they could because she knew several same-sex couples at our church. For her it makes no sense to her that anyone would have a problem with anyone's sexual orientation.

There seems to be a traditional idea that UU is anti-homeschool. I don't know if that is true anymore. I know of two families that homeschool at my church. One of them mentioned to me that she did get one rather negative reaction, but overall my church has been quite accepting of it.

Getting more diversity in terms of race and socio-economic status is a much-talked-about issue in the UUA right now. If you are interested I can provide links to lots of current articles and discussions. There is not that much diversity at my Iowa congregation.


HTH

I definitely encourage you to visit your local UU church (or society) and see what you think. If you do, we would love to hear your reactions. Also, feel free to ask any other questions you may have on this thread. I love any excuse to talk about UU.
post #15 of 97
If it's okay, this is the church we have. We do not have a CUUPS in Delaware unfortunately.

http://www.firstuuwilm.org/
post #16 of 97
We have a small UU where I live and it seems like the best fit for our family. I noticed from lurking on there webpage that they have a children's program (not active in summer). Could you tell me what a children't program at a UU might look like. What do they discuss??
post #17 of 97
Quote:
Originally Posted by Adele_Mommy View Post
We recently had our Coming of Age service too. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend, but what I heard from others was that the vast majority of the kids identified themselves as atheist or agnostic, but every single one of them gave "Unitarian Universalist" as his/her primary self-identification.

This is just my opinion, but I see this as partially due to the nature of being a teenager. It is kind of a time of rejecting things, particularly ideas or systems viewed as "authority".

We do have a strong humanist element among the adults in our church, but as our congregation has grown, the mix has become somewhat more balanced. Some members of our church identify as Jewish or Christian. I will admit we do not have a very strong pagan influence in our church.

Because so many people become UU after being raised other religions, and most of those "other religions" are Christian, I think an attitude of rejecting Christianity is going to be common in UU churches. I agree that this is not a particularly healthy or welcoming attitude, and our minister has mentioned it as a problem and something we all need to work on more than once.

I think kids raised UU are taught a lot about other religions and they are not told what to think (doctrine). I think this is a good thing, but defining one's own theology is a long and difficult process. I know I went through a stage where it seemed like all I was sure of is what I was NOT. I would learn about a religion and say well this element and that element do not make sense to me. After college I knew I was not Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Pagan, Hindu, Taoist, or Jewish and I was also not as comfortable with the atheist label I was raised with and always considered myself!

I see UU as a religion that allows for changing perspectives and a view of spirituality as a journey. I think the stage of contemplating the possibility of an idea of the divine that is outside that offered by any organized religion, even nature-based religions, is a pretty late stage in that journey and beyond the reach of most, if not all young teenagers.

This is not to say that there definitely isn't an unhealthy dominance by the atheists in your church. There could be. I think there used to be at my church and it is getting better now. I just think what the kids say at their coming of age does not necessarily indicate that.
You're right about the teenager dynamic to it. I just didn't expect such an anti-christian backlash from kids raised UU. I could expect it from, say, Catholic kids, fed up with doing examination of consciences and confessions for a church that has dealt so poorly with a molestation problem, but I didn't expect it here.
post #18 of 97
Gah, I wanted to wait to respond to this thread when it was only 6 posts because I didn't have time to read and respond. Now it's even longer.

We used Tapestry of Faith in our church and liked it. Anything we use we need to be able to adjust, according to who shows up. Some weeks it's a bunch of 7,8 and 9 year olds. Another week it may only be 2 five year olds. You never know, so having something that can be adapted easily is a bonus.

As for teens not believing in God. I think that's really really normal in the UU church. I was raised UU and at that age I would have said the same thing. I only went to church once a week for an hour, and maybe a monthly teen group at night. I was in school 5 days a week for 7 hours with kids that believed in this traditional angry father figure labeled God or The Lord. I was best friends and had sleep overs with these girls. I had way more exposure to what they believed and what their church told them to believe then what my church told me to believe. My church in fact didn't tell me to believe anything. So all I was left with was knowing what I didn't believe. I didn't believe in God. Now that I'm near 40 (next month, woo hoo!) and have been a UU my whole life I am just now at the beginning of defining what I believe. I am realizing that I am in fact a UU Theist.

So what I'm trying to say is please don't be too disenchanted that the kids talk more about what they don't believe in. Be grateful and happy that they have a safe place, their church, where they can comfortable say these things out loud and won't loose friends over it, and won't be ostracized by their teachers etc. The wonderful thing about being a teen and declaring there is no God, is that you leave yourself in a place that isn't afraid to explore, find out more about what is out there.

Anyway I've only gotten through the first 8 posts so far. I'll try and catch up on the thread later today if I can.
post #19 of 97

Ontario UU's?

Happy summer everyone! Just wondering if there are any UU's from Waterloo or Guelph?
post #20 of 97
Hi Stargirl - I'm in Ontario but not Waterloo or Guelph. It's only a few hours of a drive though since I am in Toronto.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Spirituality
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Mom › Talk Amongst Ourselves › Spirituality › Summer Unitarian Universalist Thread - All Welcome