On Sunday, I decided to do something I never would have considered a couple of years ago: I attended a Unitarian Universalist (UU) church service. My husband had to work on Sunday, so I used the opportunity to attend a congregation I knew he'd have no interest in visiting. Much to his credit, he didn't try to dissuade me when I told him what I wanted to do. I've had a feeling that the denomination might be a good fit for where I am now. There's very little by way of church doctrine. The focus is on humanist values and there's no doctrine about belief in God. Both atheists and believers alike attend.
What was the experience like? It felt surprisingly comfortable for me. My boys attended with me and they took to it immediately. Someone thought we were members because my boys were so social and unhesitatingly involved in the activities. I enjoyed the sanctuary with its large, numerous windows that allowed me to view the grove of pine trees and the clear blue sky overhead. These natural adornments presumably took the place of crosses or other symbols of religion. The focus of the service was on the principles of love, community, unity, and human value. The message from the pulpit didn't leave me engaged in internal debate over points of disagreement. It was a much more peaceful experience than I've had at church in sometime.
I admit it was strange to hear the name of God invoked only once from worship leaders during the entire service. And the one time the minister used God language she followed it up by pointing out a different type of language that could be used if one wasn't a believer. I enjoyed the fact that the minister who led the service was a woman. Given my own faith tradition, I felt surprised that the men in the audience looked so comfortable listening to a woman preach and half expected them to stand up and object. It felt refreshingly affirming of women.
My husband has asked why one would even bother attending a church if he or she is agnostic or an atheist. However, it actually makes some sense to me. If I were to fall into one of these categories in the future, I could see myself wanting to attend a church, particularly a UU church. It provides a community of individuals with similar values with whom you can develop friendships and find support. It also gives you an opportunity to meditate on what matters to you and to live out your values within a community where a greater good can be achieved. And if you have children, you may appreciate having a community such as this in which to raise them.
It's interesting to me how some individuals respond to doubts about their faith by retreating from faith communities, others by clinging more tenaciously to their religion and doctrines, and others by finding different faith communities. I guess I've done a little of all three. We all have to find our own way. I'm wondering what you have done and how well it has helped you along in your journey. And I'm interested in knowing if anyone has ever attended a UU church?