Mom to the Left

I'm a mom who tends to live just to the "left" of most of the people around me here in Indiana.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Switching churches

We have decided to leave our UU church. It is a fairly painful thing and I think I am grieving the loss. Some of my friends think they know why we've chosen to leave, but they may be wrong. Actually, this decision was based on two different things.

The first and most obvious thing is the division that has developed in our church over the past 18 months or so. There was a very vocal and powerful group of people who became adamant about forcing the minister out. They would not back down and just last week they finally forced him to resign. From my perspective, I didn't really have a strong feeling about him one way or the other. He wasn't perfect, but he did have potential and he sincerely tried to make changes to please the malcontents. But they were unforgiving. What bothers me most about the entire situation was the lack of compassion and forgiveness exhibited by some of the congregation. Granted, this wasn't everyone (and I doubt if it was even a majority) but it was, like I said, a vocal and powerful group. Now being UU's, they don't necessarily follow the teachings of Jesus and this is where I personally run into some inner conflict. Jesus taught compassion and forgiveness as being the most important thing. Period. But these values weren't a high enough priority for this non-Christian congregation. Do I blame their not being Christian for the problem? Do I expect Christian churches to act differently? No. But at least in a Christian environment you can ask the question "What would Jesus do?" and people might at least consider it. Some of the mean and hateful actions that came out of this did not illustrate the compassion of Christ. And the way they turned their heads and ignored all efforts for improvement showed their disdain for forgiveness. Sigh. Frankly, I just don't feel like the values of this church are the same values that I hold dear. And the values I see are not ones I want to be a part of nor do I want my children to be a part of.

But that isn't the only reason. Concidentally (or not), I have also been feeling a spiritual need that has not been met by the UU church for quite some time. I've posted often on my blog about my spiritual yearning and how I feel unsatisfied at our church. I want and need to feel God and to worship how God is moving in my life on a Sunday morning. For the past couple of years I haven't felt that at a UU church. Even the mention of God often gets gasps or eyerolls (which, to be honest, may have been part of the problem with the minister, but no one admits that). Church often feels dry. I mean, I am very much a believer in environmental issues and social justice issues and I believe those things are exactly what we are called to do. However, I can attend a lecture on carbon emissions or the life of Martin Luther King Jr. at one of the local college campuses. On Sunday mornings I'd rather be moved and feel closer to God.

And so I don't feel compelled to stay at our church or even to seek out another UU church. I still feel very strongly that I support the 7 UU principles and in theory I will always be a UU. But in practice, I need more.

We are going slowly with the liberal Quaker meeting we've been attending each week. We aren't going to jump into membership quite as quickly as we did with the UU church. But so far we really like it. My husband and I spend a lot of time talking about both churches and our experiences in each. We are struck by the compassion and joy of the Quaker meeting. We have also been going enough that we've picked up on a division of sorts that has happened at the Quaker meeting as well. This one has to do with a disagreement about building an extension to the church. But there is a major difference. Both sides of the issue feel very strongly that the most important thing is the unity of the church and that nothing should be done to harm that, first and foremost. The church was first established in 1826 and they feel a strong duty to their ancestors to respect the history of the church and to preserve the future. And they speak so lovingly to each other. It's so refreshing.

So I am sad but hopeful.

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  • At 11:22 AM, Blogger LaReinaCobre said…

    That really stinks about your UU church. Unfortunately, few towns have enough UU congregations in them to offer a diversity of experiences.

  • At 11:58 AM, Blogger Mystical Seeker said…

    It's really a shame that this all took place. Churches are not immune to politics, and it sounds like it was really nasty at the UU church you attended.

    I am guessing that there exist UU churches are are not so dry and perhaps more spiritual than yours were, but I don't really know. There are certainly UU ministers who I encounter via blogs who are either Christian or at least very sympathetic to Christianity, but I've also attended several UU churches around the US where I have encountered some resentment towards Christianity.

    I am more familiar with unprogrammed Quaker meetings, which tend to be pretty liberal theologically, than I am with programmed meetings. I know that some programmed meetings can be conservative, but it sounds like you found a programmed meeting which is pretty liberal.

    Back in the 1980s, I had been an attender of a UU church for about a year before I moved over to a Quaker meeting and eventually joined the Quaker meeting. I think what I sought was a deeper spirituality, not something so dry and intellectual. But I definitely can understand your feelings about the UU principles and your disappointment over leaving your church. In my city of San Francisco, there is exactly one UU church. There are others in naerby communities, but it sometimes can be difficult to find others that are close.

    When I lived in Indianpolis back in 1988, I attended a UU fellowship near downtown (I think it was on Fall Creek Boulevard.) They had a speaker from the Indiana Chapter of the ACLU give a talk there. It was nicely political, and that was what I was attracted to at the time, but it wasn't exactly spiritual.

    Anyway, good luck in your endeavors, and hopefully you have found a place that you can now settle into.

  • At 2:15 PM, Blogger ogre said…

    I'm so sorry... that stinks. Congregations -- like people -- sometimes misbehave, and it sounds like yours did. I hope you find a place that serves your needs--and I hope that the UU congregation grows up and those folks get over themselves and their selfishness.

  • At 8:45 PM, Blogger said…

    I'm sorry to hear that. I'll leave you on so long as you'd like to be and so long as you keep blogging about your spiritual life.

    Thank you for your careful thoughts. I feel we might all learn from them.

  • At 9:51 PM, Blogger michiganme said…

    It is unfortunate that the congregation in the UU church have broken their covenant on how to be with each other. However, it does seem that this Quaker Church may more fully meet your needs and was what you were looking for all along. You could say that your overall experience at the UU Church helped you on your journey. I think that it sounds like a good fit for your family.

  • At 12:36 PM, Blogger LaReinaCobre said…

    Mystical - One UU church in all of San Francisco? Wow! One would think that'd be a good area for UU churches to be planted and thrive.

  • At 4:04 PM, Blogger Seeking Truth said…

    I have really enjoyed reading your posts. I am a new blogger, and I am also a UU. However, I am a huge fan of Jesus :) and I am so glad that our UU church uses his teaches as much as other religious teachings. Christianity is a wonderful religion if used correctly. But, I guess you could say that about most religions. Anyway, have a good one!


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