by Becky Brooks

At the core of our faith lies a commitment to “a free and responsible search for truth and meaning.” This value isn’t unique to Unitarian Universalism, but I would suggest it is one of the values that define us. The wording of the fourth principle doesn’t specify whether this is a personal or corporate search, but I like to think it means both. Certainly we value the individual’s search for a personal truth and meaning-making that makes sense to their own minds and hearts. We assume in our congregations that while our pew neighbors may share our commitment to Unitarian Universalism, they may not share our theology. Part of the purpose of Religious Education is to offer a forum where individuals can engage in their own search and articulate their findings, all while listening respectfully to and learning from others. 

But don’t we, too, “affirm and promote” (to use the language of our UU Principles) the ways in which we as a whole body “search for truth and meaning.” I think back to last Fall and the 20/20 Vision conference. That congregational conversation was an example of the ways in which we do the work of seeking together. And the outcome of that conversation was more than the list of “Ten Right Things” that we decided on together, it was also the process of the conversation itself. I won’t deny that I’m a lover of lists. I like post-it notes and notebooks and knowing what to do next and having a plan. That’s why it feels so lovely to me that we have this nice ten-item list as a commemoration of our conversation. 

But the religious in me, the one who has committed her life to Unitarian Universalism, sees even more value in the way these ten right things can help us continue our corporate free and responsible search. Who are we, as a church? What defines us? How are we of use to our community? How are we integrating UUs of all ages into our work? To be asking these questions and discussing them with not only congregational leaders, but with all who work and worship here, is a religious act. We live our values by our practice. Maybe that means lighting a chalice, maybe it means being of service to our community, it certainly means treating each other with respect, but it also means engaging in the conversations of seeking together. I look forward to conversations with many of you about the hows and whys of First Unitarian. As we seek and make meaning together, so we grow as Unitarian Universalists and make this living tradition a home for ourselves and those who still seek us.

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