About three years before I was born people got together and made this thing we call the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fort Lauderdale. They donated of their time, talent, and treasure to get us a building, sold that building, and built this one from the ground up. And they did it for me...for us.
I really love this place. It's perfect for me. I was raised to be here, and I'm so glad that they worked so hard to make it so we have this beautiful fully paid for building for us to take care of and for the people who will someday celebrate the 100th anniversary. That will be possible because of what we do and because of what the people before us have done for us.
Standing in front of you is a wanna-be rock star.
When I was in high school there was a rock band called The Byrds who had a song called "So You wanna Be a Rock and Roll Star".
I attended one of their performances at the U.S. Naval Academy, and the band did not do this song.
When the concert ended, I pushed up to the stage as the crowd was leaving and begged the band to play "the" song.
To my amazement, they plugged in and cranked out that song "So You wanna Be a Rock and Roll Star".
Flash forward to 2004 and I'm no longer cravin' to be a rock star, but I do perform music on the guitar for recreation.
I write some songs, I jam with some friends, and I play gratis at some private parties.
So...when a serious tendonitis puts my hand and arm in an immobilizer brace for six weeks, I developed a serious case of "What's life without music?"
I attended a few services at local Catholic churches 'cause my parents attended Catholic church, and I did the private school, altar boy gig as a kid.
The services didn't evoke any feeling and grated on my belief in free will, etc.
Flash forward a few weeks more and I attended a service here and the lyrics of "Spirit of Life" really moved me. People here extended friendly greetings and invitations, etc.
The choir director invited me to sing, and I've been hooked ever since; I enjoy all the songs we've performed and some of the songs shoot out of me when I'm driving, walking, working, etc.
Our seven principles feel right to me. The building and grounds feel good. People who write for the various publications are inspired and inspiring.
I feel more connected to we-the-people, and I feel I treat all people better since I aim to practice the code implied by our principles.
You're looking at a cheap wad who, just to save some dough, traveled to a small mountain town in Mexico to buy a guitar from a little old man who hand builds guitars.
I gotta want something bad to pay for it.
Guess what. I've pledged a monthly payment via direct bank debit for a few years.
Never before had I paid anything to any spiritual organization.
My best friend, John, died a few years ago. He used to talk about stewardship of his land, our land, our country.
John's land is a mountain paradise in Kentucky. His widow still lives there because she belongs to the land, and it takes care of her well. UU Church of Ft. lauderdale can and will take care of us if we take care of it.
Thirty-five years ago, after attending a free university course on the Baha’i
faith which was held at the First Unitarian Church in Denver, I starting
attending First Unitarian.
I was intrigued and challenged by the spirit of open inquiry, and acceptance of
gay and lesbian members. I remember the many older members who were actively
involved in the environmental, peace and civil rights issues of the day.
It is at this Church that I came out as a gay man and really found my sense of
self as a young adult.
This feisty group of about 100 UUs made a huge difference in my life and in the
life of Denver’s inner city community.
I moved away from Denver in the late 1970s, and there was a major fire at First
Unitarian in 1985.
Now let’s fast forward to this decade. On trips to Denver to see my parents, I
started visiting First Unitarian for the first time in over twenty years. My
parents had left their Congregational Church (that’s a whole 'nother story) and
so it worked to take them to my old church.
The "new" First Unitarian is a beautiful, modern facility within the
100-year old stone walls of the old church. The pipe organ survives, along with
the old entrance door. But just about everything else is new.
(Lynn K. knows this church—since her daughter goes there.)
There are still a few familiar faces there. Just about every time I visit, I
hear about someone else who has passed on. Three years ago, when my father died,
I talked Mike Moran, the senior minister, into doing his memorial service. And
in April, I attended a memorial service for my dear friend Cindy Pitman who I had
met there 35 years ago.
A generation later First Unitarian is a vital center for liberal religion in
the Denver community. The church has two services on Sunday morning and many
members. It is truly a joy to return to my first UU home.
This story tells you a lot about why I am an active member of this
Congregation. In this church, I have sought out and found meaningful
friendships. I get to be with people of all ages and colors. I know I'm
in the right place, and I know that it’s important for this religious
community to be here for another generation. I may not be here 35 years from
now, but I want to know that this community will be. And I think we’re smart
enough and have enough resources to make that happen.
When I walked into these doors almost exactly ten years ago, I was a seeker.
I wasn’t quite sure what I was seeking.
All I knew was that:
- Maybe something to balance my intellectual and physical activities
- Maybe spiritual development that had been lacking in my upbringing
- Maybe acceptance in a loving community
- Maybe an opportunity to meet my potential to do good in the world
The first service that I attended here was a lay-led service.
It was a completely unique experience in music and meaning that left me feeling excited that maybe, just maybe, I had at last found my spiritual home.
- I didn’t feel as if I fit into any of the other religious environments that I had visited...and there were many
- I didn’t feel important
- I didn’t feel as if I was meeting my potential
- I didn’t think that my contributions as an individual would make much difference to anyone
I kept coming.
I met such a variety of people, who like me, heard a different drummer.
They were fascinating, intelligent, impassioned, outspoken, reverent and irreverent, unique, quirky, and caring do-gooders.
I was hooked.
As luck would have it, the annual church rummage sale was starting up and needed volunteers.
I showed up.
I had a great time.
I made closer connections with members.
Then I attended Rev. Gail’s outstanding world religions classes and made more contacts and friends.
For a long time, I kept coming to UUCFL, but irregularly.
After a while, Rev. Gail asked me about becoming a member.
I felt awkward, sort of like being asked out on a date when you haven’t really considered it before.
I mumbled something about not being a joiner.
She said that if I joined and changed my mind, I wouldn’t be hounded.
That was a comfort, but not enough to move me.
She pointed out that if I were a member, I could vote and hold office.
I didn’t want to vote and hold office.
She pointed out that if I were a member, I could get UU World magazine.
I didn’t want a magazine.
Clever woman that she is, Rev. Gail took another tack.
She pointed out that I seemed to like coming to UUCFL, the services and people there.
I agreed that I did.
She asked whether I wanted a place like this to continue to exist.
I said I certainly did.
This church for me was like Prince Charming’s relief in finally finding a girl to fit the glass shoe.
She said wouldn’t I like to ensure by my commitment of membership that this place continues to thrive and grow?
I knew that I had been wrestled to the ground by a champ.
I said, "Yes, where do I sign?"
Every year that I’m a member here, I like this community better and better.
This kind of behavior gets my four Ps. What are the four Ps? I’m glad you asked!
- I am so very proud that under one roof atheists, agnostics, pagans, Christians, Jews, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgenders, and straights work for the common good.
- I am so very proud that we raise money for humanitarian rights and social justice throughout the world.
- I am so very proud that we march in MLK and civil right for marriage parades.
- I am so very proud that we demonstrate for increased wages for tomato pickers and against union busting at Nova Southeastern University.
- I am so very proud that we offered temporary housing for homeless families.
- I am so very proud that last week alone we raised $477 for the Cooperative Feeding Program.
- Presence – I try to show up on a nearly weekly basis
- Participation – in events such as the rummage sale, on committees for Stewardship and Membership, and now the Board of Trustees
- Practice – of our 7 principles in my daily life
- Pledge – of my financial support to keep this wonderful community thriving
Speaking of pledges—you knew this was coming, didn’t you?—on October 19, Rev. Naomi King from River of Grass UU Congregation will be giving us an insightful, impassioned, and invigorating service. Immediately afterward, the Stewardship committee will be providing you with pledge cards for your promise of commitments of time, talent, and treasure for 2009.
Between now and then, I want all of you to:
- Think what does this church give me, our community, and the world?
- Think how can I, as part of the interconnected web, help change the world?
- Most importantly, think about how much will I give?
This seeker has found her spiritual home. If you haven’t, then I hope you will consider this one.
To paraphrase JFK, ask not what this church can do for you.
Ask what you can do for this beloved church.
Please be generous.