Yesterday I had a life shift. Something that makes you reassess where you are and where you are going. It was unplanned and unexpected. Aren't all life shifts that way? I received my copy of the UU World in the mail on Saturday and didn't look at it until Sunday. Stapled to the cover was a form letter from Chris Walton, editor of the magazine for our church denomination. It said that I was no longer a member of a congregation and would I like to reestablish membership or would I like to just retain my subscription to the magazine.
This was news to me.
I've been a Unitarian for 43 years. My parents were members of the Channing Society and then helped found the Anaheim Unitarian and Fullerton Unitarian church. At 13 I was dedicated into the church by our minister, I have served regionaly and locally, I have taught years of youth and adult religious education, and I raised my daughter as a Unitarian. It is, clearly, part of my identity.
I haven't attended our local church, although I moved to our small town specifically because they had a UU church, for over 3 years. After multiple bad experiences I really needed to take a break from the format, the lay leadership, and reclaim my Sundays for something else. Our church has no paid leadership and my expectations of volunteers was too great. They are good people, but they are not ministers. They also have no desire to retain a minister.
I suppose my lack of attendance made them think I was no longer interested in their offering. Not true, but they would not know that and they did not reach out to ask. They had no idea that I read the newsletter, keep up on Facebook and still administer their email group.
They also did not know that I have retained membership in the UUA for 43 years and they decided, not I, to sever that link without asking me first. At first I was angry. When we make decisions for others without communicating with them we are assuming an awful lot.
Then my husband said something that was extremely liberating. He said that you can leave a church when it no longer fits your needs.
Really leave it.
I was raised a Unitarian. A secular humanist Unitarian. It is who I am, but maybe the UUA isn't that anymore. In fact, they aren't that anymore. The last president of the UUA, Sinkford, was quite clear that he wanted to reintroduce religious language back into the church experience for UU's. A move that I tolerated, but only through gritted teeth. To me it was bringing religion lite into our congregations to appease the many new members who come from other faith based locations needing to retain some kind of familiar comfort from their past instead of embracing the strength in the Unitarian Universalist ideals.
And that is the path that is continuing. I get it. I also get that the rise of atheists in modern culture are a strong presence in daily dialogue outside of the UUA. They are shining brightly outside of what would seem their natural home. So as the UUA is morphing into a pseudo religious worship center similar to Unity the atheists are having national and international conversations.
My own path is evolving and maybe, like my husband says, I can leave. Really leave. Right now I'm not sure what I am going to do, but I am opening myself up to the possibilities. I am allowing my thinking to shift.