Last year I found a wonderful church community in a local Unitarian Universalist (UU) congregation. My empty spots that needed spiritual community and the sharing of spiritual experiences found what they needed. I wasn’t able to attend frequently, but I enjoyed it when I could and was glad to interact with church members through social media. Our family joined the church and we were even married there. I was hopeful that we’d found our spiritual home. I really, really like the people we met at the church. They are very genuine and full of love and have shown me a whole new side of what religion and church can be. This summer the interim minister I loved moved on; the new minister, whom I really like, will begin her ministry in September. Lots of changes and exciting times are in store for the church, I’m sure, but I’m not sure we’ll be a big part of it.
My idea of what “church” looks like or is meant to accomplish has changed greatly from my days as a Baptist. I like sermons about love, peace, religions of the world, and even how the church can be an active force in the community. The church we found seems to put more emphasis on being an active force in the community than anything else. That is what the majority of the congregation has chosen, so it only makes sense that the church would steer that direction. This emphasis on social activism is a bit much for me, though. Today I learned that the Religious Education (RE) curriculum for the fall would be about racial justice and social activism. One of the things that drew me to UU in the first place was the RE program for children – I love the concept! Religious education, from a progressive, open-minded perspective, that introduces children to many ways of thinking is a wonderful idea and something I’m totally on board with. I’m perplexed by this church’s choice of RE emphasis for the fall, though, because I do not see how a curriculum about racial justice and social activism fits the concept of RE. Naturally, this is just my own perception of what Religious Education stands for – the majority of the church feels differently and that’s fine.
I guess I’ve felt like we didn’t quite fit for awhile; the Religious Education thing just gave me a pointed example of why. I feel strongly about a great many things, but the overall focus on social activism at the church has been beyond what I (and my husband) feel comfortable with. I thing it’s wonderful that the church is involved in so many great programs, but social activism is not what I’m looking for spiritually. Church does not equal social activism, in my mind, and never will. The IFB church I grew up in was not socially active… at all. I was disturbed by the lack of ministry that reached out to the greater community and knew it was wrong. The UU church I found goes a bit too far the other way for me, so now I will begin looking for something that sits more in the middle. There is another UU church nearby that I look forward to attending, possibly even tomorrow. Hopefully we can soon find a spiritual home that better suits our family. With a long Midwestern winter looming, I know I’ll need the community connection a church brings. I’ll keep you posted.
How do you feel about a church’s role in social activism? How has your church involved itself in the community? What does it teach about racial justice, LGBTQ issues, gender equality, environmental stewardship, etc.?
P.S. Check out my Pinterest board on Religion & Spirituality. I found a few lists of picture books for children that focus on spirituality without being specifically religious. So many of the books sound good – can’t wait to work through them with the kids!
P.S.S. This baby better come soon or I will go crazy! We are 6-10 days overdue (depending on which set of calculations I follow, long story) and I’m ready to deliver the baby and move on to the next chapter in life.