The More We Get Together

RE NEWS from DRE Joanne Dingus

I’d like to thank all the youth and adults who helped make our multigenerational service on May 19th so wonderful. I hope everyone enjoyed the stories and songs that illustrated the theme, “Together We Are More,” so beautifully. Special thanks goes to Rosalee for sharing her storytelling of the “Hare’s Gift!”

The Spirit Play class and the congregation sang, the more we get together, the happier we’ll be, for your friends are my friends, and my friends are your friends . . . I’ve been thinking about this line in terms of how we are in community with others.

What if your friends or my friends are not UUs? Are they still welcome in our beloved community? Would they feel comfortable visiting one of our services or religious education classes?

I’d like to think that they would feel incredibly welcome. Unitarian Universalism has such a strong message of acceptance and hope. I’d like to think that some of these visitors would not only enjoy their visit but might even choose to make the UUFP their faith home.

I also realize that UUism does not speak to everyone. It is highly likely that many of our outside friends have their own faith homes that they love and cherish as much as we do ours. So a visit to UUFP would probably not convert them. But that’s okay.  My main concern is that a visit to UUFP not offend them. If we always offer what we have in the best light, and always bring our best selves, our fellowship and Unitarian Universalism will be welcoming and not offensive.

But we are human and I know that from time to time there have been disparaging or judgmental comments made within our walls. Sometimes, although we profess tolerance and acceptance, we fall into the common traps of criticizing others and general negativity. UUs are famous for explaining who we are not instead of helping people understand who we are. If we are not careful, our passionate expression of ideas may be construed as exclusive.

Sometimes we may make generalizations or assumptions about other groups of people outside of our church instead of focusing on the behaviors of individuals. And yet, to be fair, I know of the hurt, some members have felt, that is directly related to negative experiences with other religious groups.  Some have had to sever ties with the churches of their childhood. Some have had to end friendships over irreconcilable differences in religious beliefs. It is not uncommon for our children and adults to be told that they are “going to hell” by outside friends.    This can be very confusing and upsetting and may cause anger and resentment and the desire to say equally mean things in return. So as much as we need the UUFP to be a tolerant place we also need it to be a safe place for people to express their pain, vent their anger, and to heal. Can it be both?

This year the Children’s Religious Education program plans to sponsor a “Bring a Friend to Church,” day for children and adults. We are also looking into the possibility of hosting an interfaith panel discussion and lock-in for youth.

It takes work to nurture a culture of inclusion which honors our similarities and celebrates our differences. But in time, I believe the more we get together, the happier we’ll be.

See you in the RE!

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