Daniel Moore presented this testimonial as part of Sunday services on March 9th 2014 at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Peninsula.
I’ve been a member of the UUFP since right around 2004. Currently, I am the Finance Director.
My path to finding this place is similar to many others’. I was raised here in Newport News. I grew up attending Tabernacle Baptist Church on the corner of Colony and Lucas Creek Road, where, at the age of ten or so, I was baptized. I felt strongly that I should be with the rest of my family in the afterlife. I received my first Bible from the Royal Ambassadors, an all-boys group dedicated to studying scripture and spreading the faith through mission work.
About the same time I came into adolescence, my family changed churches. We moved from the Southern Baptist denomination to an interdenominational church, the Williamsburg Community Chapel, founded by Pastor Dick Woodward, who was Pastor Emeritus for the last two decades of his life. Pastor Woodward was an extremely kind gentleman whose sermons spoke of the love of God and its power in transforming us as individuals and the larger community. I especially appreciated the time he took on a busy Sunday, after delivering the sermon, to try and answer my searching questions about what exactly would happen to those of God’s children who hadn’t accepted Jesus Christ.
Despite Pastor Woodward’s attempts to comfort me and assure me that God had a plan, I remained skeptical. And my skepticism over matters of theology and culture wars of the nineties led me to become further estranged from the faith of my parents. By the time I went to college, I was what you would call a “none”, a person with no religious affiliation. I remained that way throughout school and into early parenthood. As an atheist, I was certain that there was no place for me in any church. I couldn’t join an organization that I didn’t believe in, and with a ton of family in this area, I am not lacking for community.
Don’t get me wrong. I love this community. I’m very happy and proud to consider you as an extension of my family. But that’s not why I’m here. It helps that you’re all nice people and easy to get along with, but it’s not why I’m active and involved with the Hospitality Teams and the Policy Board.
I’m here today and every Sunday because I believe that what we do here is important. This is something I’m certain of. I believe that we have an obligation to the community outside these walls to grow, to continue to work for equality for all in our society, and to spread our message of tolerance and human dignity to those who like myself were not fulfilled by the more conservative faiths. We are sitting on the franchise of liberal religion in this area, and, to borrow a phrase from the Reverend Bill Sinkford, and we must either improve the property or vacate the premise.
I am now a proud member of this church, this Fellowship, this religion. This is why I’m a UUFPer.