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  UU and Me

I was raised in a very traditionally religious Christian home. In the United Methodist Church we attended, my father has served as lay minister, treasurer and a Sunday School teacher, among other positions; my mother was a Sunday School teacher for years and still is choir director and organist. As a child, I was very active, and used to give the sermon every year on Children's Day.

While at Harvard, I attended the Episcopal Chaplaincy, and was very engaged by the evocative rituals, more intellectual approach, more liberal stance on many issues, particularly about homosexuality, and the general sense of community. After graduation, I even considered for a while attending Episcopal Seminary to become a priest.

But the truth was that I was never very comfortable with traditional Christianity, particularly on matters of creed and dogma. Simultaneously on both an intellectual and a more visceral metaphysical level it just didn't feel right to me. Applying to seminary was a very positive experience, though, at least in necessitating some sincere, critical soul-searching. That soul searching, along with a more direct exposure to the hierarchical, authoritative nature of church education and polity, resulted in my choosing to leave organized religion, creating and exploring my own spiritual path that was an amalgam of new age, Eastern, neo-pagan, Native American, and humanist philosophy.

I never imagined I'd return to an organized religious community, but over the past couple of years I'd begun to feel quite strongly the lack of a sense of any sort of fellowship in my life. I tend to let synchronicity and coincidence guide me, and over a period of a few months, events began inexorably leading me to the A flaming chalice, a symbol of the Unitarian Universalist churchUnitarian Universalists (Link: Beliefnet's Unitarian Universalist page). I attended some services with a man with whom I was involved in a long-distance relationship; at the same time, I kept stumbling across references on the Internet to the UUs, particularly in relation to their acceptance of queer folk, and their relationship in many communities with earth-centered and other non-traditional, non-Western spiritual paths. On a Saturday in November of 1999, I attended a new UU orientation at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Arlington [Virginia]; the next day I attended my first service. Coincidentally, that happened to be the Sunday that month that Moon Fire (then called Earth Chalice), one of the earth-centered groups affiliated with UUCA, was holding a ritual, so I attended that and was hooked. Besides Moon Fire, where I've already served as newsletter editor and as a member of the steering committee, I've become active in other ways.

For example, I now teach the 8th grade Sunday morning sexuality education curriculum, Our Whole Lives. I facilitate one of the covenant groups on world religions, and am a member of the worship associates, which assist the ministers in preparing and delivering worship services. For a while I co-facilitated a covenant group for gay, lesbian and bisexual members of the church, and currently am a founding representative to the Rainbow Cabinet, which assists the ministers in understanding the needs and concerns of the church's GLBT members and friends, and a member of and communications coordinator for VARUUM (Virginia-Arlington Rainbow UU Ministry), the church's GBLT social, social action, education and ministry group. In 2001, I was one of the church's delegates to the UU General Assembly in Cleveland, Ohio.

In summer 2001, I attended a weekend session at the Unitarian Universalist Association's headquarters in Boston, where I was trained to be a workshop facilitator for the Beyond Categorical Thinking program, which offers support to congregations by promoting inclusive thinking and to help prevent unfair discrimination in the ministerial search process, especially in the areas of race, ability, and sexual and gender orientation.

Interactive Link: Belief-o-matic at Beliefnet (powered by SelectSmart.com). Answer 20 questions about your concept of God, the afterlife, human nature, and more, and find out what religious/spiritual belief system best fits your own personal beliefs.

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