The following stories were given by members and friends during our recent 2016 Stewardship Campaign.
given by S. deFur
I grew up in a caring small town Methodist community where most of my family’s social life centered around church (sound familiar?). Peter and I married early by today’s standards and, as young adults, we abandoned church and proclaimed we would find our faith in nature and on our own. Yet, when our daughters were 2 and 7, I accidentally ‘happened’ into Unitarian Universalism when a friend couldn’t stop talking about all the interesting things she was doing with her church and encouraged me to visit I asked my friend if she belonged to an evangelical church — She said no, I’m a Unitarian and I said What’s that?
So, in the winter of 1982 in Fairfax, VA we jumped into full participation with our newly found UU community! My UU faith has helped me to take risks that stretch me personally and give me courage and determination to speak out when issues or events conflict with my beliefs. I came to Unitarian Universalism because of our children – I stayed because this faith keeps me grounded in my actions and holds me hopeful in my spirit. Twenty-five or so years ago I was part of a small group of your UU Community Church friends and forbearers who began to dream about this church community. I loved the exploration process, but honestly did not know how we would achieve our dreams – YET as our opening song reminded us — The Spirit said dream, so we dreamed!
The Spirit (who must also have a pragmatic side) said “Give and Do”. Today, I gratefully pledge my ongoing presence, practice, and participation to our beloved UU community. I also PLEDGE to pay my treasure forward so that we can continue to dream about possibilities… and so that our children and their children can work for, and live in a more just world — committed to upholding the worth and dignity of every person.
given by C. Ferguson
Hello…I’ve been asked by the Stewardship Committee to speak a bit about why I pledge and specifically, why I increase my pledge every year.
Years ago when our church first began distributing the UUA’s Fair Share Giving Guide, Deena and I most identified with the Sustaining category. We realized a need to increase our pledge substantially to get close to the suggested amount. This of course also meant a substantial change in our household finances, but we recognized what an important part UU Community Church had become in our lives. We also committed to incrementally increasing our pledge every year until we were true Sustainers.
Years later, we reached that goal only to realize that the Sustaining Member description no longer fit us. You had become our chosen family, and we had begun to dream of great things for UU Community Church: A new larger Sanctuary, a preschool committed to our UU values. We had become Visionaries. At a recent workshop for diversity and inclusion at my college, I began speaking to my breakout group about my faith and commitment to my church. Now I know what it feels like for a “Born Again” not being able to control spouting off in social settings!
So the quest continues: Deena and I have been incrementally increasing our pledge every year towards our role as Visionaries. This has not been easy. As a community college professor, I work for the Commonwealth which has only recently been giving small cost of living raises and Deena’s company has been even stingier. Deena’s beloved 1996 Accord finally died so a new car payment has meant budgeting in other areas, but this is nothing compared to the abundance in our lives. The abundance you are so much a part of. We pledge generously because this church deserves it. You deserve it.
Deena and I are committed to not just Sustaining but being Visionaries to the future of this church. This is what we offer: Presence, Participation, spiritual Practice and a financial Pledge given in gratitude. That is how we’ll help UU Community Church reach for the stars.
given by R. Keller
As many of you know, I am a lifelong UU. I didn’t come to this denomination thru soul searching or personal discovery. I came in the back of a Plymouth Fury III station wagon.
Upon reflection, I have come to realize that I have spent a fair amount of my life feeling as if I didn’t quite fit in, not an outcast, just a little “off”. As a child, my friends, neighbors, and classmates were predominantly Catholic and Methodist. I knew no other UUs outside of church and what I valued always seemed just a little different from everyone else’s. I distinctly remember my friends asking me if I was a Christian, in an almost confrontational way, and whether or not if I believed that Jesus Christ died for my sins. I didn’t (and still don’t) really understand the concept of “Christ” and I don’t believe in the concept of sin. I would tell my friends that I saw (and still do see) God in the grass and trees, so you can just imagine where things would go from there.
Additionally, my father had one of the very few white-collar jobs in what was a very blue-color neighborhood. As a result, I never felt completely relaxed or myself in virtually all the circles in which I spent my time – except at church.
As an adult, I got busy making a career, raising my daughters, and doing my best to get by and set my spiritual self on a shelf.
So fast forward a few decades and once I moved to Hanover County and discovered there was a UU church just a few miles away, there was no question for me that I would join. But what I have discovered since joining is what has unfolded during the intervening years. I have shown myself to me. I have gotten reacquainted with me.
Here, I don’t feel it’s a “zero sum game” where people try to make themselves feel big by trying to minimize you. No one ranks me on a quartile. Here, people celebrate successes and support when it’s needed.
As a result, I feel valued and relaxed and that has allowed me to want to share my true self. I have gotten reacquainted with my music, been able to offer my skills with the Auction, Fellowship, and in countless other ways.
I give my time, talent, and treasure to this church because here I feel centered, spend time with wonderful, fascinating people, and am part of the greater whole created by us all. I give because I want to, it is needed, and it is the right thing to do. This place may not be here if I don’t.