Today, Ledcat and I went to our second ever service at the Allegheny Unitarian-Universalist Church on the Northside. We've been pondering it for over a year. Recent stuff going on pushed me to finally sit down and chat with Reverend Dave about things.
So this morning we bundled up and drove down to the Church. It feels silly driving a mile but the treacherous snow covered sidewalks made walking a bit much.
Random things I liked about it
– The greeters were a couple we know. He was wearing a Steeler's jersey. To church. We had the chance to talk and get to know them a little better and enjoy the delightful company of their daughter.
– Another man was drinking coffee. In church. During the service. Using a reusable travel mug.
– One of the songs used the word “gay”
– The congregation was small, but diverse
– The children went to their religious education under a giant fleece peace blanket.
– I ran into multiple Facebook friends in real life for the first time.
– People were genuninely nice and friendly.
– The message was delivered by a neighborhood man who teaches martial arts to children on the Northside.
– People got up to offer their own intercessions (my word), both joyful and sorrowful.
– There was lunch. With delicous oatmeal raisin cookies. Mmmm.
– Someone spoke a quote I liked. I had no pen in my purse so I tweeted it to myself (phone was on silent, I'm not that bad). Someone “liked” my comment. He was also in the service. Awesome.
– They had half and half cream for the coffee. Sweet.
– I felt good about attending even though no one mentioned God. I still felt God spoke to me quietly and told me this is a place to explore.
– Being on medical leave is lonely, even with all of the medical treatment contacts. I've been averaging two coffee socializations a week, but sometimes it seems like the only human contact I have are people I have to engage. This is a nice contact by choice supplement. There's only so much decaf you can drink.
So it was pretty nice. My concern about joining a UU congregation is that I am somewhat traditional. I've written that I have a secret desire to be an evangelical and I'm not kidding. I've been to two other UU congregations, one in Pittsburgh and one not, but both left me cold and I never went back. However, I've been hearing about Allegheny for years – very social justice oriented, very inclusive, very involved in the Northside and seemingly attractive to a lot of people I admire and respect. I had met Reverend Dave several times at K.S. Kennedy Floral on Western Avenue (Kerry thinks he looks like Anderson Cooper) and found him to be pleasant and unthreatening. And smart. And kind.
So we met and I realized that my personal experience of a transcendent God was not foreign to the UU community and my desire to have that personal relationship was not a barrier to being part of this community.
There are seven principles which Unitarian Universalist congregations affirm and promote:
- The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
- Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
- Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
- A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
- The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
- The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
- Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
Unitarian Universalism (UU) draws from many sources:
- Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life;
- Words and deeds of prophetic women and men which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love;
- Wisdom from the world's religions which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life;
- Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God's love by loving our neighbors as ourselves;
- Humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science, and warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit.
- Spiritual teachings of earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.
Structure of evil really whacked me upside the head. So did reason. I can be an agnostic-would-be-evangelical-social-justicey-tilt-at-windmills person and feel right at home in this community. Cool. We'll see what next week brings.
And now we are safely home away from the Steeler Nation invasion and preparing our own little barbecue wings and fries feast for kick-off. Not a bad Sunday.