The tag line for the I Am UU project is “Missional, Evangelical Unitarian Universalism“. Those first two words cause confusion and even anger from time to time. I’d like to explain them, though; I want to invite you to think about the mission, the aspiration, of our faith and why it requires that we not only welcome but invite people into our movement.
There are people in the world who are marginalized, poor, and under-served.
As a religion of love and justice, we owe it to the world to use our individual skills, talents, and influence to work for equality and justice. In effect, our mission should be to leverage our political, economic, and intellectual power to level our own influence, much as Jesus said to his followers to give all their goods to the poor in order to follow him. If the poor are elevated, then poverty is eliminated; if cultural privilege is shared, then oppression can be eliminated. Both are essential to achieving social justice and giving everyone an opportunity to contribute their best back to society.
There are people in the world who are lonely, who have been hurt, and who are angry.
They don’t want to talk about religion, and they definitely don’t want to hear about divinity and love. They are the people who need us the most. We can reach them, because our divine love doesn’t come after you are dead. Our religion doesn’t even require that you believe in gods, much less worship them. We can offer them a community and a home for their spirit to heal, so that they can find the path that makes them happy and healthy again. We have that, and we shouldn’t be at all afraid to tell people about it. They may say no, but that isn’t a reflection on us, and it isn’t an insult. The insult is presuming that they don’t want the invitation or might not deserve one.
The world is in need of compassion and justice.
We need to love the world enough to want to change it. Many Unitarian Universalists seem to come from the other end; operating from a place of dissatisfaction or even disgust and a desire to change things so they are tolerable. We need to care more deeply than what we can personally stand to allow. The mission needs to be making things as just and encouraging as we can for as many people as possible. We need to make sure that we are building an all-inclusive community, that makes room for everyone who truly desires to join in our spiritual and social work.
Loving the Hell Out of the World
It has been said that any deity worth reverence must love everyone. I am making the point that our churches must do the same. We have to actively embody the belief, encoded in our Principles, that all people have an inherent worth and dignity that needs to be nourished, and deserve the chance to build a life that makes them happy so long as it doesn’t harm others. It needs to be rooted in our shared belief in and a desire to build a better world. We also have to tell people about that mission because there are people who will want to help us. And we need them. There are others who just need the hope that they might have a place in the community; that we are working to have their dignity recognized and respected.
That is missional Unitarian Universalism, to me, and it leads me to be evangelical about our faith. Even those who have no desire, even those who truly have no need, for a religious community do need to know that we are different. We need to show them that religion can be a force that helps unite society and undo the idea that God has picked winners and losers and that the oppressed don’t deserve better from their society.