Grow in Wonder, Connect in Love, Engage in Service, Inspire Generosity
By Brittany Welch Robertson
This reflection was read aloud by its author from UUFP’s pulpit on Sunday, February 3, 2019.
I did not grow up as a Unitarian Universalist. My first experience with a UU church was seeing it as the building next door to the funeral home in my hometown, which was also located across from a beautifully built multi-million-dollar mansion complete with heated lawn so the guard dogs feet would not be cold. At that time, I was too young then to take myself there, but after college and upon moving here to Newport News, my husband, Jesse, mentioned going to a UU church, since he was dissatisfied with his experience at his local Presbyterian one, and I could not find another Catholic church like the one I had come from. We looked it up, and UUFP was right down the road. I remember attending a Valentine’s Day themed sermon that Rev. Andrew Millard was giving, and we just kept coming back.
Part of the reason was for the people. Newport News is a sprawling city to move to and not know anyone here. I know at first I felt completely alone. I found a community here, and I love it! Everyone genuinely cares about one another, and if one member becomes sick or has a hardship in their family, everyone rallies together to offer up anything they can and cook meals for them. I know if I don’t come for a few weeks in a row, someone always makes me smile when I come back in the door. It might be Judy from behind the podium, or Henry standing by the name badges waiting to give out a bear hug, or maybe a Good Morning from Carey, who’s manning the table out front for our various social justice causes. I feel wanted. I even see these people outside of “church time." Let’s be honest; how many people here shop at Costco or Trader Joe's? We’ve probably seen each other and have waved hi or exchanged a few words and a greeting. I’ve had dinner at the Sheeler’s, gone clothes shopping with Sarah, and just yesterday was painting at Joanne’s house. We are all Connected to one another in Love.
I also come back because of the sermons. I like how I am encouraged to think here and ponder the greater state of the universe instead of being told it is exactly like this or that. Social justice issues and examining morals are frequent topics in sermons that make me examine myself and how I perceive others and their choices. They are very thought provoking. I am not forced to believe in anything or have scripture interpreted for me. I can come to my own conclusions and listen to others on their journey to figure it out too as we discuss things over coffee time. I attended the Articulating your UU Faith program that our prior intern minister Walter held a few years ago so that I could try to put my own personal beliefs into words and how to describe what it means to be a UU. I am still trying to figure this all out, but I am a lot closer to voicing it than I was in the past. This rich discussion and self-reflection is a key to growing as a person…one might say Grow in Wonder.
Engage in Service and Inspire Generosity. These parts of the mission statement I am still working on. It’s the part that I am not fulfilling as much as the other two areas I mentioned earlier. I help out on my Hospitality team, and I teach RE on occasion, but could I help out more and offer my services in other ways for the community? I participate in the yearly canvas with my husband, but is there another way I can be generous besides with just my money? How do you balance the responsibility to your daily life and what you would like to accomplish here at the same time? These are still questions I am pondering. I love coming here and love what we stand for, which begs me to ask how can I challenge myself to continue on living our mission statement to fullest extent?
And what about you? Have you asked yourself these questions lately? What does the UUFP and our mission statement mean to you? Why do you keep coming back?