President’s Column, August 2018

I’ve been thinking about what UUCB means to me. I came to UU to go to church on Sunday but in 12 years it has come to mean much more.

I came for community, for connection with people that wasn’t work related, not a hobby, or a commercial transaction. I wanted to connect with people based on our shared humanity and the traditional Sunday church gathering seemed to be a place to begin. A few Sundays ago I had to schedule a meeting at the church. I went to the calendar to see if there would be a conflict. Of course, there was a conflict. There was a long list of things going on and that was just Sunday. Almost every other day of the week had one or two things scheduled as well.

It occurred to me that in some ways we’re more like a community center than a church. Some of the activities were “church” related but many more were community activities, community organizing, writing, yoga, rehearsals, Buddhist sangha. We are as much a community center as a church. We are like the Jewish Community Centers I was familiar with in LA or even a YMCA without the sports focus. I think in this form there is a lot of potential for us as a community. As a community center we can tap into the need of today’s “Nones” to connect and to be spiritual and without the negativity that’s associated with “church.”

At the same time I like going to church. I like taking an hour each week and quietly sitting in an assembly to worship together, to acknowledge that there is more to the world and being human than just stuff. I like to meditate together and to listen to a sermon that will make me think, will challenge me. I love the music. If I’m feeling more empirical than metaphysical I can join the Humanists or do both.

It’s this mix of spiritual and community that I’ve come to think of as being Unitarian Universalist and particularly UU Church of Berkeley. We are not just a church for Sunday worship, we are a community bound together by our common principles that everyone has value, sharing the common goodness, that we accept people as they are, and together we search and strive for the common good and that it’s not just us, the members, but that it includes everyone who comes to us and our community around us. As a community we seek justice and equity for everyone and we seek to practice these principles out to the world, Contra Costa, Alameda and beyond.