I feel as if I’ve evolved in my religious life – growing up in Texas as a Southern Baptist learning all the Bible stories, then attending the Episcopal church with my family from the age of 11 on until I moved to Columbus in the 1980’s and discovered Unitarian Universalism. None of those earlier experiences had a negative effect on me. As a young child attending Baptist Vacation Bible School in Dallas, it was fun to color Joseph’s “coat of many colors” and to sing songs like “Jesus Loves Me”. And over the years, the Episcopal churches I attended would be considered liberal even by today’s standards. It was never demanded that I take those Bible stories literally – I thought of them as allegories teaching moral values. And my priest in Virginia even talked about not believing in Hell. I always did take issue with the Trinity and the “magical stuff” in the Bible, so I really just recited the creeds by rote. But I’ve always felt it important to live my life as Jesus did, and as found in the Jeffersonian Bible.
UUCCI has become a refuge in a desert for me. Other than my friends here, there are only a few others in Columbus I can talk freely with about my values and beliefs. I enjoy being around folks with like minds; we might not always agree on every issue, but we do respect each other’s opinions. And I appreciate the opportunity here at UUCCI to continue on my spiritual path – to explore the world’s great religions and other philosophies and points of view – to take from them what is meaningful to me. There are always new things to learn.
Jim: My childhood included substantial influences from the progressive political and labor movements of the great depression. Also my family included several artists who were part of the 30’s bohemian crowd. They were of the agnostic and atheist persuasion. Our Unitarian lack of dogma or superstition is very compatible with this background.
In 1976 I joined the Columbus Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, which has always welcomed “free thinkers” of every persuasion including myself. What has really been wonderful over the decades is the joy of making new friendships amongst thinking people of diverse backgrounds. We have every age group and persuasion, businessmen, engineers, teachers, and professionals in our church.
I’ve found every member to have an interesting story to tell about their path to Unitarian Universalism and feel like we’re all peers. It’s a great joy to be a member of this congregation.