12 Joining the Church

12 Joining the Church

Can anyone be a Unitarian Universalist?

People of all beliefs are welcome to our church — Christian, atheist, agnostic, and all other traditions. What binds us as a congregation is mutual respect, acceptance of one another, and encouragement in spiritual growth.

Would an atheist be welcome and made to feel comfortable? How about agnostics, Christians, Jews, Catholics, blacks, gays, or minorities?

All of the above are welcome in any of our churches. We try to offer a place for all people regardless of where they may be on life’s journey.

We affirm the inherent dignity and worth of all persons and this affirmation clearly extends to those whose sexual orientation is gay, lesbian or bisexual. Unitarian Universalism is one of the few denominations in North America that will ordain gay and lesbian clergy. The ratio of heterosexual to homosexual members in our denomination is reflective of the general population.

How actively do you try to convert people?

In the general sense of the term, we do not try to convert people at all. If people are happy and secure in their own religion, we certainly do not try to change them.

We offer an alternative for those who seek a religious home and feel they do not fit in with traditional churches.

Why do people become UUs?

About 80 percent of today’s members grew up in a faith other than Unitarian Universalism. Many people who join were raised in a particular religion but in late adolescence or early adulthood became disaffected with it and stayed away from all religious involvement until they married and had children. At that time they wanted their children to have some type of religious involvement, or they themselves felt a need for a spiritual dimension in their lives. Not comfortable returning to the religion in which they were raised, they find our church a satisfactory alternative.

Some join for social reasons, some to be with like minded people, some for intellectual stimulation, and some are seeking a supportive religion in which they can pursue their own spiritual journey.

Are more people changing to Unitarian Universalism than to other religions?

In sheer numbers, no, but about 80 percent of our members have come from other faiths.

How might a person benefit by becoming a member?

If people are seeking a place where they may freely pursue their own religious, philosophical and social life journey, then they very might want to join a UU church. We like to think that in every congregation a new member will find goodwill and fellowship, plus numerous opportunities to participate.

Do most people join the church as adults?

Yes, most of today’s members joined a church as an adult. Only 20 percent of our members were born into a UU family.

When people decide to join your church, what role does the church of their parents play in their decision?

When they seek a church for themselves, people (especially baby boomers) may take into consideration the religious affiliation of their parents, but that usually is not the determining factor.

Is it common for people to shop around, visiting several churches before making a decision?

People inquiring into Unitarian Universalism are often shopping around for a church.

What are members required to do?

Although we have no participation requirements such as attending a minimum number of Sunday services, we do encourage members to take part in the activities of the congregation as their time and energy permit. To become a member you sign the membership book of that church, indicating you are in accord with the goals of UU. To become a voting member you are required to make an annual contribution to the church.

Are members expected to contribute financially to the church?

To secure financial support for their budget, most congregations conduct an annual pledge drive in which the amount of the pledge is determined by each person or family making the pledge. Although some congregations are more specific than others in suggesting what they would like their members to give, none demand a specified amount as a condition for membership.

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