This year, UUCWC instituted a new membership class called “Pathways.” Unlike the previous classes, “Roots” and “Wings,” Rev. Kim revised the required membership class to be more interactive (not a lecture) and to focus on what it means to be a Unitarian Universalist today. We are an evolving faith. Part of our responsibility as Unitarian Universalists is to stay current! The long-term members who took the class this year all reported that today’s Unitarian Universalism is different from what they once learned. Their new knowledge led to a powerful reaffirmation of their commitment to Unitarian Universalism and asked them to explore: “What do you need to do because you are a Unitarian Universalist?” I encourage everyone to take the three-session Pathways class with Rev. Kim sometime next church year.
For a new member perspective on “Pathways,” I asked Michelle Kinney, who joined UUCWC in February 2021, to write about her experience with the class.
Here is what Michelle shared.
Connecting to UUCWC
I’d like to share some thoughts about the path to membership classes which I participated in via zoom this year. At first, I didn’t really know if I was ready for the path to membership, due to the pandemic and the complete disruption of our lives. A simple ‘no thank you’ would have been enough. I didn’t know if I was ready to move from ‘visitor’ to ‘member’ status. I also wasn’t comfortable with religious words; words like holy, sacred, heaven, divine. I had moved from Seattle, WA, one of the least “churched” places in America so I had gotten pretty comfortable saying ‘no thank you’ to church. But one thing I did know was that I was very curious and I had a lot of questions. I also wanted my children to see the goodness in faith and have a belief system that they can trust. So, at the very least, I would accept the invitation, listen and maybe ask questions if I felt brave enough to do so. At first, I was a little apprehensive. Getting adjusted to the “Hollywood Squares” of connection via zoom was challenging. It’s much harder to quietly observe from the back when you’re zoomed in.
One of my favorite things about the classes was all the great questions. I had so many! Where do UUs come from? What do they believe? What do they value? What do I do with the belief system I’ve grown to trust but am now pulling apart? How can we talk about reason and science AND the mystery of faith? What is prayer anyway? All of my own questions and those in our zoom community brought forth a rich language of answers, exploration, and personal discovery. With Reverend Kim’s help, I was exploring my questions in a gentle way that was a little scary, and a little hopeful.
These kinds of questions were stifling to me some days, and I’m glad I had a place to bring them. Rather than allowing these questions to overwhelm and derail me, I was provided with a place to bring them, a place where people listened without judgement, treated me with respect, and didn’t force a common belief or creed onto me. The classes helped to demystify UUism, and remind me that it’s a human endeavor. I learned that throughout their history UU’s questioned and challenged systems of oppression, actions that continue today and help me to understand the world, and my responsibility to it.
What I was given was a starting point, and a safe, interconnected space to listen, to share, to question, all as a part of my own spiritual education. We have so many different styles of faith here, and what I learned is that faith has to be done together, in community, and, with the UU membership classes I felt like I was going somewhere. I wasn’t quite there yet, but I wasn’t going there alone.
Throughout, I could see there are good people in this community, there is good work being done here. We may not have all the answers, but the journey is good.