by Steve Farthing
I have been a member of the UUFP for eight years.
Let me preface this testimonial by saying that it was incredibly hard to write. (I wrote at least ten versions.) Last Friday I finally determined why: I do not like to write about myself and I hate talking about my feelings. What follows is the best I can do.
I was born in Danville, VA to two loving parents with little more than two nickels to rub together. Despite our lack of material comforts, my two sisters, my brother, and I lived a happy life filled with books, dreams and church. We attended Moffett Memorial, a segregated Southern Baptist church of similarly situated families. I was not damaged by my time there. Instead, I saw much to admire and inspire among the hard-working people who made up the congregation.
I spent a number of years running away from my “redneck” background. I moved away, purged my accent — I cannot even fake a Danville accent — got an education and a profession, and abandoned religion altogether. I also became extremely cynical.
Having children changed me. In what appears to be a normal progression — ask my son about my profound ignorance: he will have much to tell you — I discovered that my parents actually knew a lot about life. I also came to the realization that I could be the person I wanted to be without abandoning my roots; I was throwing out the baby with the bath water.
Courtesy of an article in the local newspaper written by a Unitarian Universalist minister —Andrew, those articles really are worth writing — we found the UUFP. Jeanne and I came originally to provide Susannah, my daughter, and Ethan, my son, with a sound moral foundation for their lives. (Our example was not sufficient, since teenagers do not always listen to their parents.) The UUFP provided that and much more.
At the UUFP I can speak my mind; no hypocrisy required. No one insists that I believe in magic or thinks that I cannot be a good person without God. The Fellowship neither fears or nor feels threatened by science and reason. Most of my friends are here. We fight for justice in our community and the world. I am not enthusiastic about every position we take, but I never doubt the commitment or the integrity of our members.
My parents were right about church. They would feel at home here, as I do.
I am still a Danville redneck — who else in the Fellowship received moonshine for Christmas? — and I am something more. I do not invest my time and money in the UUFP for purely selfish reasons, but it has positively affected me and my family. If you do not feel connected, I encourage you to get involved. We need you, and I believe that you need us.