It is a huge question to ponder. What is the future of our religion? Where have we been and where are we going?
Each week, as I plan a children’s story for the worship service or make arrangements for a FUNShop, this question pops into my mind. What we teach our children about this faith matters. How we teach our children about this faith matters. There are so many possibilities for spiritual growth and learning contained in our younger hearts and minds.
As news stories continue to break about gay and queer teens and youth committing suicide across the country, my heart fills with sadness. It is difficult to think that young folks are taking their own lives due to intolerance and hatred. It is equally difficult to ponder what religion’s role has been in promoting homophobia. Christianity, Judaism, and Islam have all had prominent leaders publicly announce a strong stance against homosexuality. In each of these traditions, there are also voices of dissent, people who speak out against homophobia. And that is who we are as Unitarian Universalists and who we can work with.
Thinking back over my high school years in UU church, it was the place that saved me. During the week at school, I was teased for being different, people commented on the funky way I dressed or the way I acted. Unitarian Universalist church taught me the value of difference and how to fully appreciate the diversity of humanity.
I remember going to youth conferences or CONS and hearing youth in my community share about their depression, the times when they contemplated suicide. When I take a step back and reflect now, what they needed was a space in which they could express these feelings and not feel judged. What we needed was a religious community that would hold us, hold our pain, hold our joys, hold a community in that transitional stage of life that is being a teenager.
This religion, this church saves lives. We can be the place of radical acceptance that our younger generation needs. We can support our children and youth in developing spirituality that speaks to their experience. We can help them to resist homophobia and other forms of oppression through talking and teaching.
Unitarian Universalism has a future and it is contained in the younger generation and future generations to come. May this be a place where children and youth feel welcomed and supported. May this be a place that intentionally develops a strong sense of Unitarian Universalist identity and values for adults and children. We are already doing this work and there is the potential to do so much more. There is great hope in the future of Unitarian Universalism.
Blessings and Love,