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John A Arkansawyer

For what it's worth, I heard last night from Brian that they're looking into a part-time minister to be shared with the emerging congregation over in Benton County. I also get the pressure to take people off the books, since the congregation pays a fee (around $80 bucks a head) to the UUA and the district for each member. (There's an experiment in our district for changing that system, by the way.) It is kind of bad form to drop you without a letter, though.

I wonder about terminology, though. There are two different axes I can measure humanism on: Theistic to non-theistic humanism (which is more about belief) and secular to religious humanism (which is about more association). I myself would identify as a non-theistic (no belief in gods or the supernatural) religious (seeking meaning through association with a group of fellow humans) humanist (relying on human action to solve human solutions).

I do think there's a tendency away from secular humanism, in the sense of being broadly anti-religious, in the UUA. I hope my fellow non-theistic humanists don't leave due to that.


Thank you for your thoughtful response. We should have coffee, obviously. I am afraid that the point that I entered Unitarianism, the height of the Secular Humanist revolution, is being swept downstream by a desire for spirituality (or when I am being mean, pseudo religion). I just may not have the desire to swim upstream. - Jacqueline


I've been in the situation (several times in fact) when someone else's actions forced me to rethink my identity or at least my role in life or business. It's frustrating and scary at first, but also very liberating. Best wishes to you!

Steve Caldwell

Jacqueline - if your local congregation doesn't suit you and there isn't another UU congregation close by, there is always the CLF option (Church of the Larger Fellowship -- UU church by mail and online for isolated UUs).


That's one way to keep the "congregational membership" aspect (and your UU World subscription) without joining a local UU congregation that doesn't suit you.


I'm also a lifelong UU & raised my kids in the church; there aren't enough of us. I'm sorry to hear what happened to you. UUs need to communicate with their members better.

I suppose I could have given up on my church, but they didn't give up on me like that, though I've always pledged something, because I understand what it takes to make a church run. I think it's funny that you were running an email list and they didn't realize it when they dropped your membership - small congregations that think small and act small make a bad name for our religion.

I'm also a humanist, but I understand how our principles align with diversity, including diversity of beliefs. Bill Sinkford just said he wanted to let in more spiritual language - I don't shrivel when I hear the word "God" - it's always been there in our hymnal in many of our songs. God = Nature or Love or Universe.

The UUA is not closed-minded; they posted the link to this blog post in their online UU World. Congratulations, as you decide to leave, you also are becoming the talk of our association. With diversity comes the question of how to grow. How do we welcome new people without changing? Or do we work to keep our current and/or born-UUs. We also, each as UUs, have to decide if UUism is still what is right for us. For me, it definitely is, but life is a journey and you have to find your own way. I hope you'll stick with us in some way, but it's your life. Good luck!

Nancy Groh

I hope you decide not to leave. Your local congregation may never be right for you, or it might change at some point. But if all the non-theists leave the national church, and don't keep speaking up, it really will turn into "Christian lite" and that will be a terrible loss for future generations. I've been reading a book, "Religion for Atheists," that describes the benefits that religion offers, both to children and adults, that secular society can't match and doesn't even try. The author's point is that secular society desperately needs these benefits -- just without the "invisible friend" at the center of it. At its best, the UU church does just that, and I'd hate to think future non-theists might have nowhere to go. Having so many different beliefs in one church does make things difficult and messy, but I believe it's worth the struggle.


Great article is there any chance I can take it and copy it onto my own blog


I appreciate your kind words. - Jacqueline

Danny Spears

As an MCC minister with UU ties, may I offer a few thoughts?

First, I'm sorry your local congregation cancelled your membership without first speaking to you. At the church where I pastor (minister), we keep in contact through letters and calls with members and regular attenders who are "MIA."

At the same time, our local polity (which is approved by the local voting membership) indicates we are to inactivate "voting" membership if there has been no visible means of community participation in six months. I always call the person in question first and ask what concerns they might have, if there is anything we can do to provide care for them, etc. If there is no response, then the letter is sent; and then the person has 30 days to respond before the inactivation takes effect. I always emphasize they are welcome to be part of our community; at the same time, to have voice and vote in the affairs of the community, to me it just makes sense that a person be an active participant in the community.

Personally, I would like to get rid of the concept of "membership" altogether. For some reason, to me it sounds more exclusive than inclusive--emphasizing privilege over communal participation and responsibility. Still, decisions have to be made, leaders elected, etc. So I'm not sure how to address reasonable administrative concerns without some type of guidelines.

Finally, I believe your husband has an excellent point about the freedom to leave. There's always a sense of loss in leaving, I know; still, I hope you find a community that closely resonates with your journey.

Thank you for allowing me to share,
Rev. Dr. Danny Spears

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