The Dowdy Church-lady Post


I’m coming out today as a church lady.  I know - sodowdy!  I’ve been a Unitiarian Universalist my whole life, and deeply involved in my church for over twenty years.  I know where the aprons are stored in the church kitchen, I’ve been to a billion potlucks and fundraisers and most of all, Sunday morning services.  I’ve worked in the religious education program for 20 years and been the president of the Board of Trustees, been on the Social Justice committee, and done a million other things over the years.  I have a key to the front door, fer godsakes.  But I don’t talk about it much.

I tend to be moderately private about my involvement in a church, because lots of people hear the word “church” or “organized religion” and it conjures up a vision of dogmatic haters. When people bash organized religion, I remain quiet, because I get it.  I understand why so many thoughtful people of conscience are opposed to, or frightened by, organized religion.  There are numerous examples of religion peddling hate, spewing dogma, critiquing and condemning those who don’t believe in their particular thing, and generally, making things worse.  Rather than sharing love and generosity, so much of it feels small and hard and full of hate and judgment.

So I remain quiet.   

The funny thing is, I think most of my non-church-going friends have beliefs remarkably similar to mine:

I believe religion and spirituality are private matters, and I don’t really want someone telling me what I should believe or how I should live.

I believe each person has the capacity to be profoundly good, and do remarkable things in the world.

I believe life is better when we all work together, finding and tending our common ground.

I believe we can all keep growing and learning, up to the very last minute.  I can be a better person today, at least in theory, than I was yesterday.  We’re never done.

I believe we should encourage one another on our journeys through life.

I think we should find whatever we can celebrate, and do it together.

I’m not even positive I know what “spiritual” means, but for me, it’s related to getting a lump in my throat.  It involves those moments when the world reveals herself to be so tender, beautiful, and surprising that I’m almost reduced to tears.  For me, this happens in nature, or when I see a parent being particularly tender and patient with a little one, or when I have a great conversation with a friend, or when the perfect song for my state of mind arrives on the radio, unbidden.  And yes, in church when I’m in a room full of people who show up and sing and listen and are silent together.  A room filled with a diversity of beliefs about whether there is an afterlife, or a god, or a soul, but stay connected by the common belief that what matters most is how we live this life, today, and how we treat one another.  

Many people often comment, “well, Unitarian isn’t a real religion.”  Or they assume I’m not doing it right, because if it’s organized religion, it must surely involve dogma, or require a set of beliefs.  It doesn’t.  

But it offers this: I will show up tomorrow morning, and our amazing, compassionate, wise minister, Lois Van Leer, will bring us together with her words.  We’ll grieve and be furious and heart-broken, and then we’ll be called to get on with the work of justice.  We’ll sing and cry and be together, and know that we are not alone.  When I want to work on social justice, I can plug in to a well-organized, thoughtful group of people who are already doing stuff.  My voice can be amplified.

So, I’m coming out as a church lady. I’m proud to have a life-long affiliation with this denomination, where we are united in principles, but also called upon to think for ourselves.  As we often say on Sunday morning, we search for the truth with an open mind, and work to make the world a better place to live.  We respect the inherent worth and dignity of every person. 


This isn’t a plea to get others to join us, though all are welcome.  I know you’re all living beautiful rich wonderful lives, following your own conscience, and this isn’t for everyone.  But if you are interested, we meet at 10:00 am.  Show up just as you are, bring your children or don’t.  All are welcome.

Comments

  1. What a lovely essay. I wish all organized religions had the same beliefs---maybe they do; it's hard to tell a lot of the time.

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    1. Thank you! Yes, I wish the world were a whole lot kinder and less judge-y. Take good care of yourself!

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  2. Replies
    1. Thank you, Claire! So nice to be connected again. xoxox

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  3. Beautiful! I understand this perfectly. I am not exactly a church lady but my husband is a devoted church man, he too has the keys to the sanctuary and knows where the aprons are kept. I admire him for it.

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    1. We all need the aprons once in a while! :-) Thanks for reading.

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  4. Whatever you believe you have always been alright with me. This post just makes that clearer.

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    1. Aww, thanks Jono! I hope all is well in your world. xo

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  5. Beautiful. You've wonderfully, gathered all my jumbled, hard-to-formulate, mostly-left-unsaid thoughts and explained for me who and how I am too. You are extraordinary. Thank you. -Kathy

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  6. I think it's beautiful thing to have a place where you can gather with like-minded people to share positive hours and do good work. Absolutely.

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    1. Thank you, my dear Ms. Moon. All the best to you.

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  7. What a wonderful post and you're right to think that many share these same beliefs.

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  8. I had no idea what this church was all about until you mentioned it here previously. It's nice to get a more in-depth look at what you do.

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    1. Hi Jennio, nice to hear from you! Hope all is well. Lucky you're in Canada!

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  9. Dear Bets-

    Those Units are bedrock, living and working quietly for the good. Bless you for coming out. See you out there opposing greed, hatred and delusion with all people of conscience. An army of lovers cannot fail.

    XXX Beth

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  10. I love what you believe, and although I'm not a church type person, if I was, I'd be a Unitiarian Universalist. It's my next favorite denomination after Quakers. I'm glad you have the fellowship and community of your church and fellow soldiers to help spread love and light in the world. xo

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  11. A Beautiful Post and I'm in Agreement that Love in Action is the best Testimony of all to the World of the Presence of Divine influence in our Lives. Happy Thanksgiving... Blessings from the Arizona Desert... Dawn... The Bohemian

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  12. Never thought it would be possible but apparently I'm a church lady, too. I also have a key and know where the aprons are located. I love our church for many reasons. A big reason is that my kids and I get to hang around and be influenced by people like you!

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  13. Unitarian Universalists unite! Love my hometown U.U. church. I pretty much choose my church based on the music - so far the unitarians have yet to disappoint. The Seven Principals resonate with me.

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  14. like everything in life, there are good members and bad members. I do think those who just want fairness and honesty and love with no desire to make everyone like them are going to set the best way for us all.

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