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Don't be stingy with your faith

Many people are looking for what you've found in Unitarian Universalism. Not letting them in on the secret is a form of stinginess.
By John Gibb Millspaugh
Summer 2007 5.15.07

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There are a whole lot of people, in your town and in mine, who have not participated in a community of faith for some time. And they miss it. Jaco ten Hove and Barbara Wells ten Hove, in Articulating Your UU Faith, suggest that the individuals in that group are hungry for some unnamed something that is missing from their lives; perhaps their children have begun to ask questions that they cannot answer without the answers sticking in their throats; perhaps they went back to the religious homes of their childhood and found that they no longer belong there. Perhaps they have recently experienced a life tragedy. Consciously or unconsciously, they are searching.

Just a few short years ago, you might have been in that group. Now you have a religious community. But there are others, still out there, still searching for what you have found in our religious tradition.

Imagine that you’re at work or at a party and you run into one of these people who is looking. You might not know that they are looking; they might not present themselves as if they are looking, but they are. They say, “Oh, you’re a Unitarian Universalist. What’s that?” How do you respond? Really, think about what your most likely response would be. Maybe you have tucked away a few thoughts for a moment such as this, and you share them. You talk about what Unitarian Universalism means to you. There are those who seek what we have here, and it is in our power to share it with them.

Unitarian Universalism saves lives, and I mean that literally. There are people right now who are alone and hungering for a place where they will be accepted for who they are. Not letting them in on the secret is a form of stinginess.

It is so easy to take a few minutes to figure out what you are going to say the next time someone asks you what it means to be a Unitarian Universalist. You might paraphrase Erica Alston, whose words appear in Articulating Your UU Faith, and say, “It’s a free-thinking liberal religion that is guided by shared values rather than a particular dogma or creed. This lets individuals claim their personal beliefs based on conscience and experience. At its core, Unitarian Universalism places an emphasis on the worth and value of every person and the interconnectedness of all things. UUs are encouraged to give life to their values, demonstrating compassion, respect, and justice, working together to make the world a better place to pass along to our children.”

It would take three minutes to get that down, or a few minutes more to write something for yourself. Not taking the time to prepare ourselves to welcome other seekers into this faith, is, in a word, stingy.

Excerpted with permission from “The Seven Deadly Sins of Unitarian Universalism,” in the March 2007 issue of Quest, published by the Church of the Larger Fellowship. See sidebar for links to related resources.

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