I returned to my home congregation this past weekend to lead worship as a guest minister. It was a homecoming that reminded me of the joy, care, and welcome that Unitarian Universalism represents.
I joined the Oberlin Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (OUUF) in 2002. I was a member there, served on committees, occasionally led worship, taught children’s religious education classes and adult workshops; sang in the choir and even directed it for a brief time. My kids went there from the time they were in preschool and kindergarten. After 15 years as a lay member of this Fellowship, I discerned the call to ministry and went to seminary; two summers ago they ordained me, along with the UU Fellowship of Central Michigan, to become a minister. This was the first time I have been back to lead worship since my ordination.
This UU space is a community of care: I spent time catching up with old friends, sharing hugs and news of kids and grandkids, hearing about health challenges and other updates on life. I see this caring and compassion in every UU space I have ever been in.
This UU space is a community of deep welcome: I met people who are newer to the congregation who are finding a welcome here that they haven’t found elsewhere, due to identity and/or their theology. This is one of the hallmarks of Unitarian Universalism: we welcome people of any belief or non-belief; we welcome people of any gender or sexual identity.
Finally, in this UU space I witnessed spontaneous joy. The postlude to the worship service was a lively piece of recorded music that invited everyone around the world to dance. Soon a few people in the front row were standing up and dancing, leading a train of dancers that wove through the sanctuary. The music ended and there was a shout of joy. UU spaces can be places that allow and cultivate joy.
May all of our UU communities be places of care for one another; places of radical welcome; and places where joy thrives.
Spirit of Life and Love, bless the congregation of the Oberlin UU Fellowship. Bless the frail elders and the new members, the lay leaders and the children and the visitors.
May every Unitarian Universalist space be a place where old friends hug and share news of the journey of life; may every UU space be the place where the pagan, the non-binary person, the lonely seeker of any identity finds a welcome. May every UU space be a place where joyful dance breaks out unexpectedly, because life is short and loving community is precious.
Rev. Andrew Frantz
Rev. Andrew Frantz
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