JUDY RAYMOND Unitarian Universalism has enriched my life for forty years. As a young mother, I could not accept the Christian dogma I was raised to believe without question. I refused to raise my sons in those churches. I thought I’d have to go it alone. For a long time, I just “quit church.” But, something was missing.What I missed, I thought, was community with upbeat, positive people. I was lucky to find them in some of the churches my family attended, but community alone wasn’t enough. I needed that, yes, but I also needed a spiritual community which allowed me to follow my own developing spiritual path.
I needed the freedom to think, express my thoughts –even my doubts– without judgment, and I needed to feel respected and valued. I found these basic needs were met in Unitarian Universalism in 1980. I whole heartedly affirm and promote the seven principles of UU—they were already my principles! And the six sources of UU also inform and encourage me in my spiritual growth. Unitarian Universalism has taught me that “we need not think alike to love alike,” a quote usually attributed to a UU but was probably one of Methodism’s founders, John Wesley! Mosaic UU Congregation is a place where compassion and respect for each other trump dogma and judgmentalism every time.
The freedom to pursue one’s own spiritual path with other seekers has been extremely liberating and inspiring. I’ve become braver about living my life/values out loud since I’ve been a UU. I could never imagine myself openly supporting social justice issues with signs on a street corner, for instance. Even though I am more of a “letter to the editor” sort of person, I have become more vocal in the public setting, for example addressing the school board on behalf of transgender rights for students. Championing rights for the homeless, working toward voting rights restoration for formerly incarcerated citizens, and protesting unjust wars are other justice areas I’ve grown into.
I’ve always been afraid to address a group of people, but I volunteered to lead worship services at Mosaic. I have always enjoyed creating a worship service, but now I can say honestly that I enjoy delivering it! Finally, I have learned how to speak more respectfully to people and how to listen more respectfully to people—UU or otherwise. These are skills we practice intentionally in our congregation. I have made it my personal mission to seek the commonalities among us rather than the differences, even in these very divisive times. Unitarian Universalism continues to be an energizing and inspiring faith tradition for me, and Mosaic UU Congregation.