What brought you to this Fellowship? For me, nearly 20 years ago I was feeling uncertain of what was next for me. I know I wanted a more meaningful social life and wasn't quite sure my job was as satisfying as it could be. A friend went to the UU church near me in Michigan and invited me to go. When I walked in the door, I knew it was where I wanted to be. The worship service spoke to me in a way that made me realize I was not alone in my struggle for meaning.
It took me some time to figure out what I was looking for. The congregation offered a lot and I sampled most of it. The Worship Services moved me with meditation and music and the sermons zoomed over my head with talk of Kierkegaard and Nietzsche. Adult religious education moved me gently along, and opportunities for fellowship with like-minded people drew me in. I helped the congregation with the homeless shelter and did what I could under the leadership of social justice. All the while, UU principles and the values that encourage us to live right with the world were sinking in. I found my way to them. That was what my search was about.
It took me over a year to formally join the congregation, and even then it took some time before anyone invited me to help on a committee. It wasn't all about work in the church, it was more about the work of the church. I began to live my life differently, bringing UU values into my workplace and in my generosity to social causes. The UU faith changed my life. What does it mean to you to be a part of this community?
The Board, Program Council and the newly formed Long Range Planning Committee are reading a book by UU minister Roy D. Phillips called Transforming Liberal Congregations for the New Millennium. (The book is out of print, but if you want to borrow a copy, let me know.) Phillips' argues that people join UU congregations to find a community, to develop a sense of individual worth and value, to gain a sense of meaning or purpose, and to find hope that our work in the world matters. This certainly fits my experience.
We welcome visitors into our sanctuary every Sunday, and we hope we are warm, inviting and provide a beginning flavor that maybe, just maybe MVUUF can offer the individual the sense of community, purpose and meaning that is needed to make life so much richer and the world so much better. I would like to encourage our visitors to explore what MVUUF has to offer. Don't worry about not understanding everything right away. If we seem to provide what you need, perhaps you will consider the path toward membership.
And to those of us who are actively involved in the work of the church, what is it that we can do to support each other in our spiritual development while we work? How might we covenant with one another through membership in this congregation to develop meaningful lives? How might we get to know one another at a deep level so that when we get involved in the church it is because we want to build a congregation that helps us all on this kind of journey? Phillips thinks we are all ministers. Let's get to know one another, one-on-one, as ministers. Let's support each other's growth in small groups. And finally, let's make membership a meaningful commitment to the search for how to make the world a better place through how we live in it.
~ Alice Diebel