by Heather Edwards, Trustee, Board of Trustees
During this stewardship season, I’ve been reflecting on what UUCWC means to me and why I feel a responsibility to support our church both financially and through volunteering. If you had told me in my early twenties that a religious community would be such a central part of my life a couple of decades later, I absolutely would not have believed it.
I was raised Catholic but stopped attending mass other than on holidays once I had my confirmation. By the time I went to college, I felt like religion was just too confining and that there was no place for my queerness within a religious community. I was not alone in drifting away from my childhood religion as I grew up. According to a 2022 Gallup poll, only 31% of Americans report attending a church, synagogue, mosque or temple weekly or nearly weekly. The majority of American adults say they seldom (25%) or never (33%) attend.
My spiritual and religious beliefs do not require me to attend church or to tithe to a church in order to secure a place in heaven or to win the favor of God. So why do I find myself today attending our UUCWC services weekly, serving on the Board of Trustees and in other volunteer roles within the church, and pledging to support UUCWC financially?
I love being part of a covenantal faith, where we make promises to each other about how we will be together and continually re-commit to the challenge of living out those promises. I love that we are called to strive towards Beloved Community in the world but also in microcosm within our church walls. The UUA’s website shares this background about the 8th Principle: “Beloved Community happens when people of diverse racial, ethnic, educational, class, gender, abilities, sexual orientation backgrounds/identities come together in an interdependent relationship of love, mutual respect, and care that seeks to realize justice within the community and in the broader world.” While I have at times been disillusioned as I or others inevitably fall short of this interdependent relationship, I find so much hope in imagining what is possible. I love being able to work together with others to play a small part in bringing about Beloved Community in the larger world by attending a school board meeting to stand in solidarity with LBGTQ+ youth, or by attending a rally to bring attention to racial injustice.
I feel inspired and heartened every week by our amazing UUCWC staff members, who helped bring UUCWC through the worst of the pandemic as a vibrant and engaged community. Being part of this church certainly helped me through the lockdowns and the isolation of working from home. It is truly remarkable that UUCWC managed to attract new members even as other churches were seeing severe declines in attendance and membership. I feel so lucky to have Reverend Kim and the rest of our talented and committed staff, and to be part of this extraordinary community.
For all of these reasons and many more, I get so much from being a part of UUCWC. And, as Board President Maria Baratta reminded us in this year’s State of the Church meeting, this also comes with a responsibility to support this community in the ways that I am able. We are all stewards of this congregation. As part of a covenantal community, I know that I have a responsibility to invest in UUCWC both financially and with my volunteer time. This is particularly important at this moment when we are eagerly awaiting the ground-breaking for our Capital Project, are placing increasing demands upon our beloved staff members, and have a projected deficit budget.
After frequent discussions at Board meetings about how we can meet the challenges of this moment of change, I feel truly hopeful and excited about the future of UUCWC. I trust that we will rise to meet this moment and will continue to evolve as a thriving community. One way that I will help us to do this is through my annual pledge. I hope that each of you – whether you are a member, friend, or active participant in the church – also will think about the reasons that UUCWC is important to you, and will make a generous annual pledge to help sustain our church community at this pivotal time.