For those of you who follow my blog, please disregard that post I wrote about being a Unitarian Universalist. The truth is, I love the idea of Unitarian Universalism, but I honestly don’t actively identify as a Unitarian Universalist and haven’t for awhile. I’m loosely affiliated with my local fellowship and take advantage of resources provided by the Church of the Larger Fellowship (the online Unitarian Universalist church). I also listen to Unitarian Universalist podcasts. But I don’t really consider myself a Unitarian Universalist because I couldn’t find a place for myself at my local fellowship and as so I wonder if there’d be a place for me in another Unitarian Universalist church, and even the larger denomination. And so writing that post wasn’t entirely honest and thus didn’t keep with the goal of this blog.
My history with Unitarian Universalism is filled with much pain and disappointment. I tried to locate a place for myself in my local fellowship, figure out a way that my skills could be of use to the community while challenging me to grow and live up to my values. I joined my local congregation about four years ago, and almost immediately tried to find these opportunities for myself. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find my niche. It turned out that what I have to offer isn’t what the local fellowship needed.
The local Unitarian Universalist congregation has a very limited pool of volunteer opportunities. The primary type of volunteer work is committee-based. Sure, there is youth ministry and special event work, but the majority of jobs are committee positions. One of the expectations of membership is that you serve on a committee; it’s an unsaid expectation that you serve on multiple committees.
I’m not wired for committee work, or at least not the way the local fellowship does it. I simply don’t have the personality or the work approach for it. I’m a nonlinear person who prefers an informal work space. I also prefer to do church work that requires me to interact and serve other people, like volunteering at a food pantry. I like getting to know other people and, building relationships. The whole reason I sought out a church was for community and relationships, and the chance to serve the larger community within a church structure.
So meetings felt like a waste of my time. Plus, committees felt like an endless cycle of creating more and more work so to justify the necessity of the committee, even though that work didn’t seem absolutely necessary to keep the congregation running. I felt like I was spending so much time supposedly working with fellow members of the church and yet never really getting to know them, without any substantial work to show for the hours spent in meetings. It was very unsatisfying.
I finally reached my breaking point in June of last year. It finally clicked with me, really clicked with me, that my involvement with the congregation wasn’t good for me. I hadn’t grown as a person. In fact, I frequently left the fellowship feeling like I hadn’t achieved anything, because I wasn’t able to plug in and do the work, which meant that there was something inherently wrong with me.
It finally dawned on me that this didn’t mean I’m defective in anyway, it meant that the church’s needs are different from what I can offer. In other words, they didn’t have a place for me. I needed something different. I needed a church community that I could grow with, one that I would need and it would need me too. I needed to be affirmed and transformed. I took a couple of months off of church and then started attending a local Episcopal church. It’s been almost a year now, and I am happy to say it is the church community I’d been looking for. I’ve grown a lot since I started attending the church, and I’m even happier to report that I’ve changed the church too. I’ve finally found the church community for me.
I’ll talk more about my involvement with the Episcopal church in a future blog post (I promise), because it really does deserve it’s own post, and I want the focus of this post to be on my inability to connect with Unitarian Universalism. I also have other criticisms of Unitarian Universalism that I plan on sharing in the future.
I know, you’re waiting with baited breath.