Why I’m Joining the Unitarian Universalist Church
Today I take another step on my zig zagging faith journey. Today I am going to sign the membership book at the First Nashville Unitarian Universalist Church. This effectively completes my exodus from the United Methodist Church, but itself has been a long time coming.
I actually knew of the UU church before I ever became a Christian. I had read of it in a young adult novel when I was eleven or so and was contemplating spirituality. The character in the book had discovered an open minded spiritual home in a local UU congregation. This prompted me to see if there were UU churches in my area- and that’s how I discovered FUUN. While I didn’t visit for many years, it was inspiring knowing there were open minded liberal religious people out there.
I first visited FUUN when I was in college, I think. I was trying to visit as many different denominations and faith traditions as I could in order to seek commonalities and appreciate differences. However, I found a sanctuary at FUUN that transcended a simple visit. I would return to FUUN several times a year when, as I laughingly put it, “I got too fed up with Christians.” I knew I felt renewed every time I went, and appreciated that they dug from a deep well of many traditions, even my own.
As I was beginning my departure from the UMC, I tried imagining if I would make a switch to another denomination. I was mostly split between the Episcopal Church and the UU Church. I felt that I knew I would become a UU before I died, but I didn’t know when. I felt that I wasn’t quite ready to “leave Jesus.” I felt that I needed the Eucharist. This was mostly what made me consider the Episcopal church- except for the glaring fact that the Tennessee Diocese individually is probably even more unwelcoming to LGBT people and women than the TNUMC conference! It wasn’t a solution. I also felt that wherever I went, I would still be a “Methodist sitting in another denomination.”
Over the past year in divinity school, however, I’ve been feeling more and more alienated from the Methodist tradition. When I was in discussions and Methodist theology was mentioned, when I was in groups of Methodists laughing and joking about their studies, even when I went to Annual conference– I began to feel like an outsider looking in. I began to feel like these weren’t my people, even when I knew everyone in the room. I realized there was much of Methodist theology that no longer resonated with me, or rang too hollow in practice. Did I mention I haven’t gone to a Methodist church in over a year?
The last thing holding me back was the Eucharist. Even when I began to realize and celebrate that I don’t need to shed my Christian identity to become a UU, I felt that I needed the Eucharist. Then, I recently realized that in the past year, I had only received the Eucharist a handful of times, and two or three of those times, I was the presider! “Maybe I don’t need to receive it in reality as much as I cerebrally do,” I began to wonder. I also knew that if I ever needed it, I could always go to an Episcopalian church or celebrate it with friends. I don’t need to abandon it.
And so, this journey brings me here today. I am ready. Deep down I have always been a UU. I just didn’t know if the UU church would accept me as one of them because I am Christian or because I am sacramental. How foolish of me! The UUs are nothing if not welcoming of all people on their journey. I am so excited to begin this new journey, begin learning their hymns, their litanies, and begin my journey of involvement in ministry here. I am ready to have a home again.