Texas! Back to my home state but still so far from home! Today Austin and I attended the First Unitarian Church of Dallas in none other than the Lone Star State. Although the church community began there over 100 years ago, the current Frank Lloyd Wright-esque sanctuary is an homage to fluid space and shared community. The architect, Harwell Hamilton Harris, truly designed what he described as “a clearing in the forest,” all completed with a dominant burning chalice guiding attendees to the peace within the space.
Led by Senior Minister, Rev. Dr. Daniel Kanter, today’s service was one honoring the church’s “UU of the Year” for service and deeds completed within the church community (and in the greater Dallas community at-large), followed by a sermon titled, “Too Christian, Not Christian Enough.” Dr. Kanter well expressed the historical ties to Unitarianism, but also to those that led to the path of his suggested true labeling as a “Free Church.” One that is neither too Christian, nor Christian enough, in that so it is perfectly balanced without confines to secular and non-secular labeling alike. A place where Christians and Atheists commingle in celebration of diversity and compassion. A place where all whom support and commit to the seven UU Principles can live, learn, and love without judgment or inequity.
Stirring the passion was music provided by “emma’s revolution,” a fun and modernly folksy duo of Sandy O. and Pat Humphries. Austin and I both especially loved their song, “Peace, Salaam, Shalom,” written in response to reactions to the attacks on 9/11.
If you live in the Dallas area and would like to attend First Unitarian, you can find information about their services and events at www.dallasuu.org. Be sure to take time to explore the campus and have coffee with the UUs attending there. They will be glad to welcome you!
From the First Unitarian website, “As the largest liberal religious congregation in Dallas and one of the largest Unitarian Universalist congregations in the country, our history lives on today. We remain a progressive oasis in Dallas; a harbor for lost and wandering people without a compass for their religious natures; a place to read, discuss and move against tyrannies of the mind, heart and body; a treasure of wisdom and strength for our children; a community within which to weather the difficult times and celebrate the joyous times of life; and a voice of reason and challenge in an increasingly conservative religious landscape.”
“Whatever the faiths you have known or the flags of your heritage, you are welcome here. Whoever you are and whomever you love, you are welcome here. Whether you ran in here today on little feet, or walked briskly, or ambled in, or rolled in, you are welcome here.”
(UUCEP Worship Associate Script)
Above are some of the first words you will hear when attending a Sunday Service at the UU Community of El Paso. They are truly heartfelt by those among us.
Ours is a faith of acceptance and each one of these words can be taken in the most literal sense. Whomever you are, no matter your background, you are welcome without regard to race, class, national origin, physical or mental ability, sexual orientation, or gender identity/expression.
Unfortunately, many are in search of our faith without realizing it even exists! If you would like a more liberal, educational, and accepting faith environment, visit a UU community this Sunday. If you’re unsure where your beliefs lie, a great way to get help is to take the “Belief-O-Matic” quiz at Belief Net: http://www.beliefnet.com/Entertainment/Quizzes/BeliefOMatic.aspx It is a truly fun and enlightening quiz that can both affirm your chosen faith, or show you a new path to spiritual exploration.
As a creedless faith, UU’s rely on the support and acceptance by our members of our 7 Principles:
Our 7 Principles
1. The inherent worth and dignity of every person
2. Justice, equity, and compassion in human relations
3. Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations
4. A free and responsible search for truth and meaning
5. The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large
6. The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all
7. Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part of
As I go on my 2013 pilgrimage, I hope to bring the meanings of these words to heart and to share. It’s simple to list words as they come–simple to list the principles. But what I hope to convey is the emotion behind the words and more importantly, the belonging to the words that come with our faith.
To learn more about Unitarian Universalism, or to find a community near you, please visit: www.uua.org or click on the chalice in the right-hand column of my blog. If you are unable or unwilling to attend a physical location, you can explore UU’ism through the Church of the Larger Fellowship: http://www.questformeaning.org/
For more information on the UU Community of El Paso, visit: www.uuelpaso.org