There is no punchline to that, but it is a heck of a set up, because it is hard to believe.
For a project focused on Unitarian Universalism, and saying things that a lot of UUs don’t particularly care for, we’ve garnered over 10% of the likes that the UUA has, and the number of people reading our posts and interacting with them is usually 2/3 of their engagement. Honestly, we couldn’t have reached this point if you all hadn’t been helping change minds and introduce new folks along the way. I wasn’t sure there would ever be 5,000 people who would want to hear what I had to say about liberal religion.
This is not the project I started back in 2010. I was just trying to get the UU posts off of my personal Facebook page, to allow folks to opt-in rather than tuning me out. I was excited about sharing this liberal religion that saved me at a very difficult time in my life. I had no idea what I was doing, only that I felt called to share.
5 years later, I am still just making it up, but I’ve had a lot of help and education from the thousands of comments you all have shared with me. I’ve grown so much because of the community that sprung up around the page. My life has been changed. There was a time when I felt like I might never find a community that nurtured my spirit, before I found Unitarian Universalism, though I longed for one.
There was a time when I never thought I could be a leader, or even taken seriously by Unitarian Universalism at large, though I wanted to contribute all I could to telling people “WE ARE HERE!”. That was before you all found the I Am UU page, and shaped me into the leader and teacher I am and am becoming. I am almost in tears as I type that, because it is the first time I have really admitted that I am truly on that path, already, as opposed to aspiring to walk it.
Since this is not the project I started, this seemed like the occasion to talk about what it has become,. mostly over the last two years.
The I Am UU project has become a new kind of Religious Education program. While we started as a movement for evangelical Unitarian Universalism, we’ve become more than that. We still promote taking pride in your faith and the idea that if you believe it has been a force for good in your life, others might also benefit from hearing about it. We also try to teach deeper and more meaningful views of our shared faith, so that the message is more than superficial.
We teach that UUism is a humanist, agnostic faith at its core, regardless of what other labels individuals apply to their own philosophy. Humanism grounds us in the present and in the material, knowing that our efforts here on Earth matter and should be deliberate and positive. Our agnosticism leaves the mind open to new experience and information about the world and what it is to be a human being. These two things are foundational to our religion and to Liberal Religion as a vibrant counter-point to conservative religion and fundamentalism.
We teach that what unites us is more important to our shared mission than our differences. Our shared goals are more important than our personal motivations when we are building our communities. Seeing people do the right things, even for what are to us the wrong reasons, is still much better than seeing them do the wrong things for any reason. We can always work with someone to help them see logical inconsistencies or psychological hang-ups, if such exist. Our duty is to accept them as long as they are committed to the quest for truth and meaning and to becoming their best selves.
We teach that UU identity starts with accepting that our goals are impossibly high for most people to reach, and that is ok. The effort and the commitment to encouraging one another in that effort are what make you a UU. You don’t have to be “saved” to belong.
We teach that Unitarian Universalism is a religion, though a strange, new type in our culture. Religious language is powerful, and our grounding in ethics and philosophy lends us the right to use that power. It is uncomfortable for some of us for a lot of reasons, but we cannot allow fundamentalists to corner that power and choose new definitions for those words. We are not a social action PAC, a service fraternity, or a social club, though we support all of those activities by acting as a source for moral authority and spiritual healing in the cultural (and occasionally physical) fight for justice, equality, and compassion in human relationships.
If you have read this far without going to unlike the page, thank you. You are why this work matters. You give it life, and your participation has taught me so much over the last few years, and that holds true even if you just found the page last week. Your being a part of Unitarian Universalism matters. Your participation in the bigger conversation is important. Your willingness to see yourself and your congregation as part of something bigger and something vital is what is going to be important in seeing us through the end of our first century as a religion.
As for your administrator, I will continue my quest to be the best leader and educator I can be. Thank you to those who see the value of what I do, and who have put dollars to that assessment to support the ministry, my family, and my continuing education and training. I continue to give myself away, optimistic that if I am doing the right thing, people will support me. It has been rough at times, but I haven’t been allowed to fail. For that, I give my most humble thanks. I am blessed to be able to keep this work up while caring for my kids.
I humbly ask you who have not given to consider sending even a dollar a month in support of my ministry, or helping me in other ways to grow into a person worthy of that support. Links and further information are in the column to the right (unless you are on mobile), or here (for everyone). In any case, I will continue for as long as can, or until Unitarian Universalism no longer needs me.