a church just like mine

Two days ago, a madman walked into a church just like mine (and only four hours away from mine) and opened fire, killing two people and injuring others.

Compared to many religions, Unitarian Universalism is a tiny denomination; we have maybe 100,000 members in the United States. So this tragedy hits extra hard — particularly because the man wielding the weapon didn’t choose a church at random. No, he deliberately planned to attack the Knoxville UU congregation because of its liberal social policies. He hates liberals, says the letter he left in his truck; he hates gays. Apparently, while he was shooting, he was shouting hatred for all to hear.

The banner at my Louisville, KY church reads, Civil Marriage Is a Civil Right.

The banner at my Louisville, KY church reads, "Civil Marriage Is a Civil Right."

High on one of the outer walls of my church hangs a banner that says “Civil Marriage Is a Civil Right.” My congregation of about 300 people are very progressive in our politics: I’d estimate us to be 90% pro choice, 95% Democrats, 100% supportive of gay rights. UUs don’t adhere to a specific creed; rather, my church includes atheists, humanists, pagans, Christians, Buddhists, Jews, and those who create their own spirituality.

Many beliefs, but one congregation. Why do we come together? Because we find truth and meaning in the seven principles that all Unitarian Universalist congregations affirm and promote:

  • The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
  • Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
  • Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
  • A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
  • The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
  • The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
  • Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
  • Although we have no common prayers or mantras, we recite a covenant each Sunday. UUs everywhere speak a variation of these words each week:

    Love is the spirit of this church, and service is its law. This is our great covenant: to dwell together in peace, to seek the truth in love, and to help one another.

    We are liberal. We are welcoming to all. And for this, a man decided people just like me deserved to die.

    7 responses to “a church just like mine

    1. As Carol observed at last night’s candlelight service, people have a harder time hating those whose stories they know, so it is important for us to keep telling our stories, even (perhaps especially) to people like the gunman.

    2. We were extremely sorry to miss the service last night (we were out of town for the day). I’m feeling this deeply and would have liked to experience the community sharing.

    3. Pingback: comfort food: macaroni and cheese « more than the sum of my parts

    4. This is so beautifully expressed…. parts of it, if not all, should find their way into a larger forum.

    5. Found your beautiful site while looking for my daughter’s site: More than the sum of my parts I think it was.
      Want you to know that I was shocked to hear of the church loss. And that we Episcopalians share the tenets of your church and your heart, entirely. We, too are under attack for ordaining women as priests and bishops, for allowing no discrimination among the 3 sexes, for being for truth, dignity and peace. So we Episcopalians stand with you, along with many other people of good will
      Wanted you to know also, that in 1975 a crazed stranger gunman entered the lst grade of the local RC school and began shooting at random. He shot the teacher who remains a paraplegic, and shot and killed the priest/principal who entered the room. He also shot into the empty seat next to my daughter, missing her by inches. (Fortunately that child was absent that day). So this situation is nothing new. It is because God has allowed man free will and some choose to follow their father, the god of this world, the devil.
      I want to say further that I was in the Prosecutors office (doing police related work) when they brought this man in and we glanced into each others eyes for a moment. Neither of us knew he almost killed my first grade daughter.
      Months later, I got even with him. I went to the judge’s chambers and asked the judge to spare his life and not to send him to the chair or to prison. So you see, our God has the final word.
      That was 1975 and my wife has never gotten over missing that precious child. But we know, that because He rose from the dead that we will rise too, and we will be with our loved ones forever, without pain or tears.
      God bless your work in His name.

      PS after the above incident, 7 months later, our daughter accidentally drowned in our backyard horse pond while my wife was feeding the horses in the barn with the radio on. She was 7 yrs old. We can only speculate that the harm that crazed gunman inflicted on the children in that class, was spared our daughter in later years.

    6. Another example of the chosen evil doers: Last week someone broke into the office of our circa 1820 church bldg. Not once, but twice! Sat. nite and again Sun. nite. They stole 3 computers, printers, and all the church equipment.
      In the middle of the city, populated area, no one saw or heard anything.
      I wonder at how low some people can get: to steal from a humble old church who is scarcely able to meet its bills and is considering uniting with another local church.
      What kind of person would do this? How much can one get for used computers? Do(es) the crook(s) have no conscience(s)? No fear of God?

    7. I’m torn because it always warms my heart a little to hear about communities such as your church where everyone can be accepted for who they are but then it breaks my heart to hear about someone terrorizing such a wonderful community.

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