Friday, February 29, 2008

A Church Shopping Story

I'm fascinated by the news that 44% of U.S. Adults have switched religions or denominations from the one they were raised. Peacebang features a round-up of the news and surrounding UU Blog buzz here. Shopping in general is so ubiquitous in this country that it's no surprise to me that folks religion-shop!

I've heard a number of church-shopping escapades, but a story I heard at General Assembly let me know how vital it is for our congregations to have a strong campus and community presence: A woman told me that she had attended college in Madison in the early 1950's. She church-shopped many, many Sundays, usually arriving back at her dorm in tears because everywhere she went, church was all about narrowness, set beliefs and creeds. This college student had no idea that Madison had a Unitarian church. In 1951, First Unitarian Society of Madison moved from downtown into a building built by Frank Lloyd Wright out in the country (at that time it was out in the country -- now it's right across the street from the Children's Hospital). She told me that she has always wished she'd known about Unitarians back then, because it would have saved her some heartache.

This woman, bless her heart, did eventually discover Unitarian Universalism. She is now a minister's spouse and carries little cards about UUism everywhere she goes. When she meets young adults who seem to be seeking, she gives them information. Fifty years later, she remembers her failed search for a spiritual home and still reaches out to young people.

The fact is that FUS actually had a campus ministry program way back in the 1950's: it was called the Channing Club. Obviously, news of the program did not extend widely enough. With so many folks out shopping these days, it's more important than ever for us to be "out there": open, accessible and welcoming.

Let your light shine,

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