Why am I Unitarian Universalist?
(Thoughts from Carol White, a ten-year member of the Keene Unitarian Universalist Church)
There are many reasons I am a Unitarian Universalist (UU) but the prime reason is because of the wonderful people that are part of this church community. I moved to Keene about 10 years ago, knowing only a few people. I met a woman at the CALL program at Keene State who became a good friend. She invited me to visit the Keene Unitarian Universalist Church which is often referred to as KUUC. I am so happy she did. I found a warm and inviting community here. As I became involved in the church community, I became active in a number of activities which were new to me as I had not previously been part of a church community. KUUC is so much more than just Sunday morning services. There are opportunities to participate in and help plan services, including doing readings, singing, and playing instruments, to help in decision making for the church as part of it’s board, to work in the church garden or just enjoy it’s peace and quiet in this busy world, to participate in church pot-lucks, (prior to the pandemic and hopefully again soon), to informally go on hikes together, and to enjoy being together, making berry bowls, wreaths, and other crafts (again this has been limited due to the pandemic). We also have a very active Book Group that meets monthly as well as a scripture study group. A number of members are involved in social action initiatives, the community breakfast program, and the Monadnock Interfaith Project with a current focus of working on the issues of homelessness in this community. There is also a religious education program. A fun, bonding experience is also planned every year in the Spring at Ferry Beach, a retreat just south of Old Orchard Beach in Maine.
So there are a lot of choices on how one may want to become involved in this church community and it is also perfectly alright if you choose to only get involved in a limited number of activities. I became president of the board of the church, attended pot-lucks, made berry bowls for the Green Sale, went on hikes with other church members who loved the outdoors as much as I do, and for the last two years have enjoyed participating in the Book Group whether on ZOOM or in person in the church garden. I am looking forward to returning to Ferry Beach in a few weeks. I made friends with others who like me were open to various expressions of spiritualty. This church does not have one dogma which everyone must follow but rather a set of 7 principles which are all aimed at humanitarian values which help us live with a respect for all people. I found I liked being part of a church community with such positive values.
If you are new to Keene, new to being part of a religious community, or want to be among people with a respect for varied beliefs and backgrounds I would recommend a visit to the Keene Unitarian Universalist Church to see for yourself. I am glad I did.
Why am I a Unitarian Universalist? By David Teubner
That’s an easy question to answer. It’s because I like being in a church community; I like being inside a church environment, like our sanctuary; I like to sing hymns and hear encouraging sermons; I like to play my guitar and help with the streaming of our service to YouTube. Where else can I do this?
Through the years I’ve learned a lot by being a Unitarian Universalist. For example, our first principle is “the inherent worth and dignity of every person.” And we believe that we are all “saved” by default. Our Universalist belief is that there is nothing I need to do to be saved. As UUs we do not shame each other, threaten each other with damnation, or force each other to adhere to a certain creed or doctrine. Our 4th Principle states that we believe in “a free and responsible search for truth and meaning.”
Many of us are formally from other faith traditions. For myself, I grew up Lutheran. Later, while in college, I got caught up in fundamentalism (kind of a disaster for me). And finally I landed in the UU church. Now as a Unitarian Universalist I can cherish and celebrate a diverse set of religious ideas from all over the world. Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Native religions, etc. But more importantly, I can learn from others. We all come from a diverse and colorful background.
So I invite you to come to the Keene Unitarian Universalist Church if you miss being with a church community. At KUUC, as we call ourselves, everyone who comes can participate in creating a meaningful community. Many of us help plan our services, along with our minister, and lead singing and pick our readings. So I invite you to come…
Why am I a Unitarian Universalist? By Carol Mills
I came to KUUC over 20 years ago, fairly broken spiritually. I had heard about the wonderful community that was KUUC from a couple fellow, at the time, UU’ers from KUUC. From my first visit to date, the welcoming spirit that I was told about is played out each time I gather with my fellow parishioners to worship, participate in community service work, share fellowship with, enjoy nature with, or just to meet up with.
I feel so blessed to have had such a warm place for my children to learn the 7 Principles & values of Unitarian Universalism. They, as was & am I, were welcomed to explore our faith journey in a manner as individual as we were.
As a Pagen UU, I have always felt I belong to this community who so deeply value our differences just as much as our similarities. Through my many years of teaching in our Religious Exploration program, I learned as much as I hope I taught my many learners over the years.
I cherish the friendships I have formed over the years & look forward to many more years of learning & sharing our amazing Unitarian Universalist traditions.
Why am I a Unitarian Universalist? By John Walter
As a teen I struggled to make sense of the religious beliefs that I was suppose to accept, one of them being that a perfect, loving God would exclude from heaven people who were not Christian, even if they had never learned of Christianity. I soon learned that Muslims were equally convinced that their way was the only way to enter heaven, and that, even within Christianity and Islam, there were sharp disagreements regarding God’s will. The notion that a loving God would eternally damn anyone made no sense to me.
Yet I understand the appeal of traditional religions: Answers to the big questions of life (morality, death, our purpose in life…). Being part of a community and part of something larger than one’s own (often petty) concerns.
Unitarian Universalism may not provide “all the answers,” but it provides the right principles (and support) with which to find one’s own answers, and it does not require believing things that fly in the face of science or reason. Worship services nurture both the mind and the spirit.
The community at the Keene Unitarian Universalist Church (KUUC) is wonderful – so many inspiring, kind, giving, thoughtful, fun people. It is a community that makes it easy to be one’s best self. There are those who identify with Christianity, with Buddhism, with earth-centered spiritual practices, with humanism, and with other spiritual traditions. All who are at least somewhat open-minded about the spiritual practices of others are welcome.
My two (now grown) children benefited greatly from a religious education that exposed them not to dogma, but to a variety of spiritual traditions.
These are the reasons why, after first entering KUUC’s sanctuary with very little knowledge about Unitarian Universalism, I continue to call KUUC my spiritual home.
Why am I a Unitarian Universalist? By Tina Stevens
My name is Tina Stevens. I have been a grateful member of the KUUC community since 2017. I have served on the Worship Committee as well as Religious Exploration. I am presently serving on the Board of Trustees.
I go to KUUC because I feel at home there. I am among like minded people; people who are part of the change in our community, people who are brave, people who speak up. There is a spark within me that is ignited when I attend services, when I sit in silence with others, when I go forth from the building with peace in my heart and purpose in my steps. I go with joy and with a deep sense of relief that I have found community among and with others that transcends a right or wrong way of knowing God, the higher consciousness, the great I AM presence. For that I am thankful and grateful that my search has ended and my journey has indeed begun.
I encourage you to attend a service and you will see first hand what a welcoming congregation we have here in Keene. We are currently streaming services as well as providing in person worship.
Why am I a Unitarian Universalist? By Tom Julius
I have participated in KUUC for 18 years as a religious exploration teacher, a KUUC Outdoors leader, a Committee of the Ministry member, and a congregant in the pews. KUUC is my inspiration, my connection, and my sanctuary.
The UU principles are a deep well of inspiring wisdom that sustain me when I am looking for direction to guide my thoughts and actions.
KUUC connects me spiritually and socially to a network of people who preceded me and those who will come after in the pursuit of leaving this world a better place that how we found it.
The KUUC service, whether in person or on Zoom, provides a time of mental reset that readies me for the tasks in my week ahead, a true sanctuary of rest and rejuvenation.
KUUC and the UU principles inspired me to connect with others who together founded the Monadnock Interfaith Project (MIP), an interfaith coalition for community, understanding, and social justice. MIP is a launching pad for those who work to make more good things happen.
I encourage you to come to KUUC for your sanctuary, inspiration and connection.
Why am I a Unitarian Universalist? By Jimmy Mills
I grew up in the youth programs here at KUUC. At first, as a die hard sports fan, I preferred my Sundays be only for watching football. My mom taught a couple Religious Exploration classes here. As time went on this church changed my view on not only what Unitarian Universalism meant, but it allowed me to explore my own spirituality. At first, I did not know what my spirituality was, but that’s what was great about KUUC. My spirituality could be whatever I wanted it to be. There was never judgement from others. An experience I had that I won’t forget was going to many different services of different religions. It opened my eyes to how others express their spirituality.
I have also had experiences growing up going to Ferry Beach with this church, as well as going to Star Island for about fifteen years. I highly recommend Star Island to anyone reading this. Not only is it beautiful, but I made lifelong friends with Unitarian Universalists from all over the country. KUUC was a big factor in helping me find my spirituality, and in feeling comfortable and able to lead a service at Star Island.
To be honest, I went from a stubborn kid that felt like I was being forced to come on Sundays, to wanting my future kids to experience what I got to. I have had friends who were raised in other religions ask what Unitarian Universalist means. When I tell them, I have always gotten a positive response. Most of them have said they wish they got to be a part of something similar. I would like to thank all my group leaders and mentors here at this church for pushing me, challenging me, but most importantly supporting me in my search for my spirituality. I am grateful for this community, and all the experiences and friends I have made in the process. I think freedom of religion, and expression of your own personal beliefs is super important. Finding that here and not being told what to believe really helped me grow as a person.
Why am I a Unitarian Universalist? By Deborah Dunnell
I have been a member of the Keene Unitarian Universalist Church since 2003. As a born-and-raised Unitarian, it was important to me that my daughter Nina have the same kind of religious education as I had, and KUUC was clearly the place to find it. I also wanted to be a part of a community of like-minded people who shared my values and who would challenge me to think more deeply about the world. KUUC has been that community for me ever since.
In 2012 I became part of the Religious Exploration Program by serving on the RE Committee, teaching classes, and developing new curriculum. I merged my background in progressive early childhood education with my life-long commitment to liberal religion to develop our unique Block Program, which integrates building with wooden blocks into religious education. Our children love having the opportunity to learn in this creative setting.
There are so many different ways to participate in the KUUC community while growing in your spiritual life. Being a member of KUUC has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my life and I look forward to continuing here for many years to come.
Why am I a Unitarian Universalist? By Deb McLay
Spiritual but not Religious? Me too! How about your child?
When my son Ron was 3, I knew I wanted him to have an understanding of religion and spirituality. When I found out that Unitarian Universalist (UU) churches have a Religious Exploration Program that does what the name implies, and found my way to KUUC, I was hooked. My son learned about all the major world religions, along with ethics and spirituality. HIs very positive UU experience contributed to him becoming the well rounded, fine young man that he is today.
I came to realize that the UU 7 principles resonated deeply with me. The people of this community constantly inspire me to be my best self. Many of us are involved in social action groups. I have made several lifetime friendships here. I enjoy fundraisers, potlucks, “KUUC Outdoors” events and more. My spirituality is important to me. Our beautiful building is home to people from all walks of life, full of endless potential. “Belonging’ within a community such as ours continually gives me hope for a better world, and inspires me to think, speak and act as if that better world is right here, right now, in each and every one of us.
Why am I a Unitarian Universalist? By Carol Hill
Our Church, KUUC, has given me and my husband, Bob, many opportunities and paths for community service. We have been able to coordinate an Interfaith Breakfast Program which prepares and provides hot meals five days a week to the most vulnerable in our area.
The gardens and grounds of the church often need tending and there are church members wanting to help.
Some thoughtful readers have formed an active Book Discussion Group which meets monthly.
The weekly “Zoom Worship Service” shares music and a message that uplifts us and roots us in our UU tradition.
I am so grateful to the good people who care and support us in our Church Community!