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Sunday, August 10, 2003

Holy debate.

The Unitarian Universalist Association's "vocabulary of reverence" debate is back in the news, although I'm a week late in noticing. The San Antonio Express-News talked to UUA President Bill Sinkford about the controversy last weekend; Sinkford is speaking this morning at the First Unitarian Universalist Church at the close of the Continental Conference of the Unitarian Universalist Musicians Network.

The Principles and Purposes welcome ["liberal Christians, humanists and a whole range of people in between"] by using language that Sinkford describes as a "lowest common denominator," but it has left members without adequate language to name the holy, Sinkford said this week in a telephone interview.

"God" is an essential word in most religious traditions, but many older Unitarian Universalists are uncomfortable with it because it sounds too creedal or dogmatic.

Those who have left more traditional religious backgrounds — mostly Christian ones — often have painful memories and remain uncomfortable with traditional religious language.

Sinkford wasn't suggesting a creed or a more Christian formulation of faith.

He said he was attempting to start a conversation among church members about how to speak more deeply about the spiritual.

"There's a tremendous willingness — almost a longing — to have this conversation," he said. "In many congregations, it's already started."

Most enthusiastic are younger members of the church, many of whom come from "unchurched" backgrounds; that is, they had no previous religious affiliation. ("Unitarian likes 'holy' debate." J. Michael Parker. San Antonio Express-News 8.2.03)

Also in the news:

"[T]he highest percentage of [gay men and lesbians] saying they are practicing members of their respective religions are: Pagan (84.6%), Metropolitan Community Church (79.4%), Unitarian (66.7%), Episcopal (57.6%), and Jewish (47.5%)." ("Study: Few gays practice their religion," The Advocate 8.7.03)

"The teens are part of a growing trend of youths getting involved in church and church-related activities. . . . 'The UU church has always been a force in my life,' said [Sara] Halperin, 20, who this year was awarded the church's Unsung Award for outstanding contributions to church activities. 'I got to meet some of my very best friends through these activities.'" (CentralMaine.com 8.4.03)

"Captain Isaac Clark, a famous Brewster ship captain who died more than 270 years ago, stood in front of the silent congregation. He was in the midst of delivering a few words of welcome, when, all of a sudden ..." It's a historical re-enactment service at the First Parish in Brewster, Mass. (Cape Cod Times 8.7.03)

"When you look at the Unitarian-Universalist Church on Lowell Street, what you’re seeing, in part, is the history of the Nashua mills. The movers and shakers of the early township belonged to this church, the city’s oldest standing religious structure. Not only did they erect the building in 1827, they built the mills and everything else that propelled this once-agrarian community toward their vision of an urban, industrial future." (Nashua, N.H. Telegraph 8.3.03)

"As droplets of rain began to splatter on the sidewalks along Main Street Friday, a small group silently gathered in front the Unitarian Society of Northampton and Florence to mark the 58th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan." (Northampton, Mass., Daily Gazette 8.9.03)

"Any time there's tolerance, there's room for growth,” said Anita Gjerde,
a member of the Green Bay Area Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. ("Gay bishop's approal ripples through area religious community," Green Bay Press Gazette 8.8.03)

Renaming Broadway "Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard" has Muncie, Indiana, divided. A public demonstration in favor of the change is supported by the Rev. Thomas Perchlik and the Unitarian Universalist Church. "However, other issues like racial equality and alleged racism also must be addressed, Perchlik said, things that won't be solved by demonstrating." (The Star Press 8.8.03)

And, finally, one way a congregation is taking up President Sinkford's challenge: "Individuals will share their personal stories about how they have been "saved" by their personal beliefs that are supported by the Unitarian Universalist principles." (Fourth item, Maryland Gazette 8.7.03)

Copyright © 2003 by Philocrites | Posted 10 August 2003 at 11:00 AM

Previous: Religious liberal on the go.
Next: Cold feet.

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