Visit to University Unitarian Church

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As many of you know, I am a Unitarian Universalist, but since our move to Seattle almost two years ago, I have not stepped foot in a UU church. The reasons … oh. Well, they are few, but significant:

  1. I wanted to focus on my family and settling into our home and new town. I have a history of saying “Yes” to people’s requests and overextending myself. I issued a one-year moratorium on making volunteer commitments, and avoiding church altogether made it much easier to keep that promise.
  2. I liked my old church. A lot. It was the only church I’ve ever been a member of, and it was emotional to leave it behind. I didn’t feel ready to jump into a new church yet.
  3. Did I even want to go to church anymore? I’ve spent a lot of time over the last 21 months thinking about that. That question deserves its own post, really!

Well, I don’t have the final answer to question number three yet, but I know part of answering it involves the act of physically visiting area congregations. That year-long moratorium came and went, and I hadn’t gotten myself out there on a Sunday morning. For a while it was seeming like maybe it would never happen, but last night I was reading an email from a UU friend that got me thinking about all the great UUs I’ve met over the past ten years. Some of them are my closest friends, and the UU community has been, for better and for worse, my community for most of my adult life.

I still have some serious concerns about how well it can serve my family in the long run, but for now I feel it has a role to play in my spiritual development, and that I might still have a role to play as a member of a UU congregation. I also really want Kidlet to have a chance at experiencing something akin to a community, seeing as how our family is far flung, and she won’t be going to school for years (if ever). In the wee hours of the night, I decided, “Tomorrow I will go to church.”

Today I went to the largest UU congregation in the Seattle area – University Unitarian Church (UUC), and, as I expected, everything was familiar but not quite the same. The first time I stepped into a UU church, I was a naive 25 year old, shy, and almost clueless about UUism. This time, I walked in as a confident 35 year old mother, having served on many a UU committee.

I didn’t know a person in the building, but whatever! Kidlet and I walked in, and I got my bearings very quickly. I was a little disappointed to hear it was a Service Sunday on Water Rights. It sounded like a bit of a dry topic (no pun intended), and it meant there was a guest speaker instead of the congregation’s minister at the pulpit. But I retained an open mind, and as it turned out, the guest speaker – Patricia Jones of the UU Service Committee’s Environmental Justice Program  – was pretty fantastic to listen to. I learned a lot, and was moved, and wanted to talk to Jones some more after the service. A spark was lit in me, and I really wanted to do something about water rights – if not I, then who? If not now, then when? But …

“Hold your horses,” I said to myself. “This is how it always goes for you, you want to pitch in on every great cause – this is why you needed that one year moratorium! You came here to visit the church, not to start a local or statewide campaign on water rights!” It was tough, staying focused. But I did it. I will earmark that for later, though. Maybe I will just send the UUSC a small monetary donation for now.

Apart from the sermon Jones gave, I loved the music at UUC. It was fantastic. The choir sits up above the congregants on a big platform, and I couldn’t even see them, but they sounded amazing. The format and spirit of the service was very similar to those of my former church, so that felt familiar. It still felt a bit choppy, and planned, and more than a little sedate. The minister even alluded to the stiffness of those in attendance, which prompted many of the grey heads around me to bob in polite, self-conscious laughter.  I shook my head, and smiled a little. Some things never really seem to change.

Kidlet enjoyed “church school,” which was lightly attended today, so mostly she just played and laughed and cracked people up in the preschool room. I liked the facilities and the teaching/caregiving volunteers. They were very down to earth, and comfortable. The snacks at coffee hour were rather fantastic – carrot sticks, pretzels, several kinds of cookies, cake, muffins, grapes – quite the spread. We ate and drank water, and a few people talked to us, but I was not in a gabby mood. My mind was on water rights, and where to catch the bus before my phone battery ran out. Kidlet walked around like she owned the place, talking to strangers, and would probably have stayed forever if I hadn’t taken possession of her last cookie and headed for the door.

Next week we’ll go to another UU congregation, and we’ll probably rotate through the four or five nearby places for a while until it becomes apparent to me what the next step is.

12 thoughts on “Visit to University Unitarian Church

  1. I miss going to church. I adored my UU church in Texas. I tried out the Washington County UU church a few times, but it never felt right. Did you go to 1st UU when you lived here?

  2. Hi, Hafidha! It was great to see your post on The Interdependent Web just now. I’d forgotten you were in Seattle. And it tickled me that you used the word “kidlet”—my darling dad used to call me that. I’m retiring in June, but it would be fun if you visited my Whidbey Island church before that!
    Love,
    Kit

  3. I just read this on the Interdependent Web. Shucks, I missed you at UUC. Being that we were moving, we skipped church this week. I hope your travels to the next UU church go well. One of these days we’ll have to meet in person.

  4. I’ve wondered what was up with you and church. And here is my answer. I congratulate you on holding your horses with volunteering as I tend to get myself in the same trouble. I’m interested to hear about other Seattle-area UU churches, especially because First U is the only UU church I’ve ever attended.

  5. Pingback: Visit to Shoreline Unitarian Universalist Church | Never Say Never to Your Traveling Self

  6. @Nichol – I forgot that you went to a UU church in Texas. I used to go to First Unitarian in PDX. It’s a really big church – and very politically active. If I remember correctly, you don’t like your religion and politics mixed, but the culture of activism is pretty strong at First U. I think a better fit for you might be West Hills UU Fellowship, which is over by Washington Square Mall, just north of Hall on Oleson Road. I’ve been to WHUUF many times, but not in about three years. I was told they went through some big congregational changes, about two years ago, but I don’t know the nature of it, and as far as I know, the congregation is still going strong. They only employ ministers on a part-time basis, so the congregants are very involved in the running of the fellowship. Last I heard they still had an active CUUPS (pagan) group, too, if that interests you. You should check it out!

    Also, I’m not sure when you went to the church out in Hillsboro last, but I’m pretty sure they’ve gotten a new minister in the last year or so, and they had an interim for a while before then. Sometimes the feeling of a congregation can really change when it’s going through transitions, so it might be worth another look.

  7. @Kit – Hi there! Oh wow, I didn’t know my post was on The Interdependent Web; that’s pretty cool. I have yet to make it to Whidbey Island, but oh my goodness, now I have an excuse to go and a deadline. I have to figure out how to get there on time, though, with the ferries and all that.

  8. @ hsofía:
    Hi, Hafidha,
    To get to Whidbey, come north on I-5 to exit 189 (for Mukilteo and the Whidbey Island ferry), follow the #526 highway through Payne Field/Boeing and look for the signs to the ferry. If you’re coming on Sunday morning, catch the 9 a.m. ferry. Once you’re off the ferry, follow #525 north about 10 miles to Freeland, where there is a stoplight. The church is about two miles north of Freeland, on the left hand side, with a big sign out front.

    I won’t be there the first weekend of May, but I’ll be doing the services on May 13 and 27, and also on June 10 and 24. The 24 is my last service for them.

    Hope you’ll be able to visit sometime!

  9. @ Kit Ketcham: Thanks so much for the directions and the dates, Kit. I looked up the website and it wasn’t clear to me when you’d be preaching, so that was really helpful.

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