Why We Give 2017
As some of you may know I picked Peter up at First Unitarian Church in Houston, Texas - almost 40 years ago. We were both brought there by our common values and interests, and we've remained connected to Unitarian churches and fellowships ever since because Unitarian Universalism supports those same values that remain extremely important to us both: love, tolerance, justice, and inclusion along with a reverence for life, stewardship of the environment, and a continuous search for truth. In the mid-80's, about a year after we moved to Salida, CO where we were subjected to petty discrimination as foreign, liberal outsiders, I got up early one Sunday morning and drove 2 hours to the All Souls Unitarian in Colorado Springs. I had not realized the toll conservative hostility had taken upon me until I walked up the front steps of All Soulsand began uncontrollably weeping ... after months of feeling isolated and rejected, I knew I'd reached a place where I would be welcomed, a warm, nurturing, non-judgmental place where I'd find acceptance and friendship among like-minded people. That has always been true of Unitarian organizations, regardless of where we've lived, and it has been exceptionally true here at Columbine where we've made numerous, wonderful friends with whom we share so much in common. As atheists, we don't believe in a personal caring god. Yet at the same time, we are in awe of the creative forces of the universe, believe our lives have purpose, and feel a responsibility to promote emotional and intellectual evolution and to help make the world a better place. In sum, we find Unitarian values most closely align with ours and are values that foster a smarter, kinder, and more peaceful society and world. We try to live our values and to spend our money where those values lie. Thus, we whole-heartedly support Columbine, its mission, programs, leadership, and expansion plans with our time, talents, and treasure as much as we possibly can. We believe resources invested in Columbine UU Church, are resources wisely invested toward the betterment of our community, our nation, and the world.
Scott: It's rather ironic that when I was in high school I worked part time at the local UU church in Franklin, NH. My family was grudgingly Catholic, and would occasionally drag us to church, so I didn't really pay a whole lot of attention to what the UU church was about, or have a whole lot of interest in church in general. I just swept the floors, helped the soup kitchen volunteers find things, and shared corny jokes with the minister. (Some things never change!) But I picked up little tidbits here & there that stuck in the back of my mind. After high school I did some soul searching and came to the conclusion that I did not fit in the Catholic world, or any other version of Christianity. Having a skeptical & evidence based mindset I just couldn't accept that an all-powerful being took an interest in every aspect of our existence. I still consider myself agnostic but I lean more towards the possibility of a civilization advanced far beyond our own. Credit my sci-fi / nerd side for that. I came across a magazine called Free Inquiry among my science magazines, which contained thought provoking articles from noted atheists & philosophers. I decided the term Humanist fit me well, and that was what I had on my dog tags! I got ordained through the Universal Life Church, and felt satisfied enough about my spiritual identity. Fast forward a few years, I got married, we lived in Oklahoma, and our first kid was learning to talk. We felt the need to find a church for the kids, but the typical Christian church didn't really appeal to us. Heather grew up in the Baptist church, but didn't really feel an attachment there and we never went to church, despite the constant pressure to do so in Oklahoma. We mentioned it to our "non-conformist" friends and they invited us to their UU church. Thinking back to my high school days, I told Heather if she was going to drag me to church she could drag me to a UU church. With only a week to go before moving to Colorado we accepted their offer. We felt an immediate kinship with that community, and it only took one visit to realize we had found what we were looking for! As soon as we got to Colorado we got on Google and found the nearest UU church, which turned out to be Columbine. We showed up on Sunday and immediately felt at home. We pledge to Columbine because this is our family. Heather: Before ever going to a UU church I had an idea in my mind for if I were to create my own church. Then after going to the UU church in Oklahoma I realized that is exactly what I would have created! From the day we got here Columbine has felt like family, and with our world turned completely upside-down due to unexpectedly getting out of the Air Force, we felt more support from the congregation than from the actual family we moved here to be near. Over the past 5 years we have worked hard to get our careers back on track, establish a home in Colorado, and raise our kids in a manner that fits our own personal values. Columbine has helped with that more than you can possibly imagine, and being members here has become an integral part of our identity. We try to give back as much as we can, by not just being present but being actively involved. We give what we can financially, but being a small congregation means it can be difficult to get volunteers to fill the many functions that keep the community together, so we volunteer our time & energy as much as we can. We pledge to Columbine because we may never fully repay the spiritual and emotional support Columbine has provided us, but we are eternally grateful for having found a community where we can explore our spiritual needs, share our values with like-minded people, help others that felt isolated like we did, and work together to make the world a better place.
My husband, John, and I have been Unitarian Universalists since 1981. We both come from Catholic families and went to Catholic schools through high school. I enjoyed church and all the trappings that went with it. I deeply appreciated the emphasis on good works and the support of evolution and science that I was taught in school. But there came a time in my early 20's when I could no longer pretend to believe the dogma of the Catholic Church or say the prayers without feeling like a hypocrite. One day John and I saw a sign at First Universalist Church on Colorado Blvd advertising a Sunday service that featured a physicist as the speaker. We were intrigued and attended our first UU church service. We became members soon after. We had found a spiritual home where we could be our authentic, full selves and a place where our values were supported. Our daughters attended religious education classes at First Universalist and John and I taught classes two months every year as part of our commitment to the church. I probably learned more about being a UU through my teaching experiences than I could have in any other way. We were living in South Jefferson County at the time and our daughters were exposed to fundamentalist Christianity at every turn. It was important to us that they develop strong thinking skills and an ability to see the world in other ways. Our attendance at church was important for their growth and development. In 2007 I had an experience that changed how I saw my commitment to Unitarian Universalism. While on a trip to California, we attended a Sunday service at Palomar UU Fellowship near the astronomical research center at Mount Palomar. Speaking that day was a UU minister servicing with the US Navy as a chaplain for all faiths. She spoke about her job and she spoke about why being the only UU chaplain in the Armed Services at that time was so important. As she talked about our UU ancestors and the role of liberal thought in the development of our democracy, I understood better how important our faith is to democracy and how we help to safeguard freedom and justice in our country. I formed a deeper commitment to support the health of the Columbine UU congregation and to work for the growth of this spiritual practice. These are some of the reasons John and I give as generously as we can to Columbine UU Church to sustain its work and presence. I know we are supporting a visible community example of our beliefs in free thought, science, and justice. And I believe it is critically important to humanity and to our democratic way of life that UU churches, and Columbine, remain active, vibrant, visible reminders to all community members that freedom, responsibility, and justice requires our time, effort, and money to remain alive and well. To me, this is what democracy looks like!
Many of you know I've been a long time member of Columbine UU Church. My sons learned a lot of their most important values here. Currently they are not attending a UU church, but they both have showed when it counts they come back to us. I know I have found my own values clarified and enlarged by being here and I have many opportunites to practice them. Mike and I have found a community of people that we enjoy, and share ideas. I love hearing inspiring words and getting to listen to wonderful music. It makes sense that since this church has given a lot to me, and my family, that I want to give back to it. I know it takes money to have and keep a church going. When I was President of the Board, I learned firsthand what our expenses are, and that having a professional staff, programs for our kids, and maintaining a church take considerable money. So we give to the place I love.
"Know you're not alone. We're gonna make this place your home." Words from Phillip Phillips song Home and very fitting for today. "Know you're not alone. We're gonna make this place your home." Brian Pendleton and I wrote our first check to Columbine on January 28, 2007. We had never been in a UU church prior to that day 10 years ago. We joined in September of that year. Why because it felt like home. We have written many checks to Columbine in 10 years. And we will continue to do so. There are 4 reasons and they are all here today. • Cris Cardenas is a great reason to give to the church. She makes it a home by organizing, communicating. She is like our Mom. • Ashley Johnson is running our kibbutz for the children of all ages. She brings the children to front and center of Columbine where they belong. • Matt Frisk makes this place rock with music. I love the listening and the singing. Someday I will join his choir. They look so happy. • Rev. Julia McKay is the leader of our home. I was on the search committee with 5 other brave souls who were charged to find the right leader. That was, by far, the most difficult and important role I have played for Columbine. The committee knew we had a winner but we did wonder if we were ready for her spirit, her fire, her commitment. We have proven to ourselves and to her that we are ready for her leadership. She is something. These 4 people make this place our home. I believe this year's stewardship campaign is about paying Cris, Ashley, Matt and Rev. Julia for their service. Their work is demanding and they deserve to be reimbursed for their amazing work. Brian and I are moving into a new home and we understand more than ever the cost of making a place a home. This year we are increasing our pledge by a little more than 10%. This is the biggest increase we have made in many years. Our church home is worth it. What do I love about our home besides Sunday morning? • Meditation • The book club • The movie nights • The SUUpremes • The open mike nights • The auction and all associated parties I do love fun - it fact it was through this church that I discovered that fun is my purpose in life and Columbine, like any good home, provides for fun. Brian and I know we are not alone, because we call this place our home.