Why I go to church

Unitarian Universalist Church of Ft. Wayne.
Unitarian Universalist Church of Ft. Wayne.

I’m sure that people who knew me during my student ministry days would be puzzled by the title of this blog entry.

Of course, that was long ago before I abandoned the ministry for a career in teaching, then abandoned that for a career as an editorial writer and newspaper columnist.

But it’s been more than 30 years since I attended any traditional Christian church. That time was during part of my life that I found my way to the Unitarian Universalist church.

I guess what makes UUs – as we refer to ourselves – even a religion is that we honor all religions. Mounted in the front of the sanctuary must be half dozen leather plaques, each portraying a symbol of a world religion.

Do we believe in God? A god? Life after death? Back when I taught an adult class, I discovered that our members hold all sorts of beliefs, about the divine, about the universe, about the afterlife – if there is any.

Our members do profess a sense of the spiritual, although there again you can get a variety of meanings depending on which person you ask. And nobody wants to be told what to think or what to believe. Boy is that clear!

What got me thinking about our church and my own circuitous religious journey was Sunday’s fellowship hour after the service. Here’s the story.

For the past month or so I had been wearing a “boot” to give the stress fracture on my heel a chance to heal. Naturally, I wore the boot when I attended church services earlier in the summer.

I believe Sunday was my second day out of the boot. Evan Davis gave a brilliant sermon. We were editorial writing colleagues at the paper for many years. Then, during the fellowship hour, fellow members took note that I no longer was wearing the boot. Each wished me continued healing. I found myself touched by each such encounter.

It occurred to me that I had just discovered a powerful reason a lot of people go to any church, temple, synagogue or mosque. That’s when we connect with other people. And we get to talk.

Sure, there’s the music. In many churches, there’s a communion or mass. There are the prayers, though not much if any for Unitarians. There are readings. There are announcements. (I always hope these are mercifully brief.) There’s the offering. There’s the sermon or homily.

During our Sunday service, we offer people a chance to light a candle and share some personal joy or concern. This is yet another way our members get to connect with others who might well be dealing with a family crisis.

I did not light a candle when I developed the stress fracture. Nor did I light a candle to celebrate getting to take the boot off. But what a pleasant surprise after the service when several members took note of my progress. I got to connect!

I sure was glad I went to church Sunday.

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