One of the men who influenced me the most in my youth recently became a fan, on FaceBook, of an evangelical organization. I went to look at its website, because my respect for this man had me intrigued; I wanted to know why this group inspired him.
I found a group that teaches people how to be evangelical. They even have two separate targeted programs for kids of different ages. They take people who are excited about their faith and teach them to share it more effectively, which would be awesome if their version of faith wasn’t so scary to me. The idea that they are teaching childcare workers how to better influence (and my by reading, limit) the thinking of the children entrusted to them was worrisome, but I admired the spirit.
So, I looked into UU evangelism. I mean, if anyone has good news to share, it is the message of love, respect and acceptance that the UUA has for the world. What I found was that there was as much information on evangelizing TO UUs as there was for UUs excited about sharing the Principles with others.
I think back on my time with the Young Adults of DUUF, and a plan jokingly hatched by my friends Brian and Eric. They wanted to go to UNT and, in homage to the hellfire preachers brought to campus by Christian student groups, they wanted to reach out to the “sinners” and tell them the good news: “You’re OK!”
Why isn’t there more of that? With all the community outreach and support work that UUs contribute, why don’t we tell people what we believe about their worth and dignity? Why are we so moved to work for peace, liberty, and justice, but disinclined to talk about what brings us, Christian, Agnostic Pagan, or even Atheist, together for the effort?
I have found people who are very happy to welcome me. I know people who are happy to have a community where they can be themselves and not fear judgment. I have enjoyed fellowship with people who are happy to welcome people into their family. I have found some really great people who have formed wonderful communities in UU churches.
What surprises me is what I haven’t found: as proud as UUs are of their churches, I haven’t found a lot of people looking to invite people in. They are happy to see you show up, certainly, but few are going to encourage you to come by in the first place.
With that in mind, this is me, declaring my first effort at Ministry. I Am UU. I am proud of that, and I think that what we offer the world is good for our country and the world. I think that promoting the Principles to the world, and encouraging others to embrace them, with out having to give up their own spiritual identity, can bring positive results. I think that everyone benefits when people choose to respect each other and really listen when the chance for discourse comes up.
I Am UU. I want it on a shirt, with the principles printed on the back in big, friendly letters. I am going to find reasons to talk to people about progressive principles, not in a political way, but in light of the things a person can do every day to make the world better for everyone; a better life for one is a better world for us all, and we all need to realize that we can do something every day to make positive changes. The more people who try, the more change we can really achieve.
I am posting this to my friends in the UU community, because I need help. Some days will be discouraging and change won’t always be measurable on a week-by-week basis. There will be people who resist the message that people are, generally, capable of choosing their own path to happiness and that trying to follow someone else’s path is a major cause of stress.
I Am UU, and I’m ready to start being proud of it. Who’s with me?
(I really wish I had finished this the other day, but I was rewriting a note I posted to FaceBook, and I wanted to polish it a bit. Oh well, better to get it right…)