After a post about Unitarian Universalist Evangelism last week, about how it changes lives for some people, Layne Richard-Hammock shared her story. She says that she is happy to tell people about Unitarian Universalist Principles and what her inclusion in her church means to her. These are her own words:
In 1992-3 I first came to a UU church having been warned off by a fundamentalist Christian. I was seeking but didn’t know exactly for what. – something for my children and community for me. All I knew about Heritage UU Church was that it was some sort of liberal ‘new age’ kind of place and this woman told me the ‘devil’ has hold of them and I shouldn’t go there. Something in me just had to go check it out. On my first visit I sat in an aisle, second row seat. After they lit what I’d learn later was the chalice, the first and second row of people stood up to sing the chalice response. Yikes, I’d seated myself in the choir. When they finished singing I apologized to the nice man next to me, Bob B., who told me not to worry and that he figured the universe had sent them a new choir member and told me when rehearsals were and invited me to come. I did. Within a very short time I was actively involved in RE and by 1994 I had become the DRE, discovering a calling and vocation I didn’t know I had. My life has been transformed and I’m now blessed to help others find their own version of transformation. I’m a fan of evangelizing – we have much to offer to many. I’d stumbled into coming home to a place I’d never been. How many others could have a similar experience with intention instead of stumbling?
This story is far from unique. We’ve heard from many, many people that they wish someone had reached out to them; they wish they had found Unitarian Universalism sooner. Her story also says something important about being welcoming: making real connections and being invited to join in activities helps people feel like part of the community. This is how we help visitors choose to become members. We have to help them find their place in the congregation (or not).