Last September, my wife and I flew back to Sioux City, Iowa, my home town, for my 40th high school reunion.
Along with looking forward to seeing a bunch of my high school buddies, I really wanted to visit the Presbyterian Church where I grew up. As a child, I was very active there. I attended years of Sunday School. I could recite the Apostles Creed!
“I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
the Maker of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
born of the virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, dead, and buried;
He descended into hell . . . “
(This was so cool. It was the only time we little kids were allowed to say “hell” without getting into trouble.)
I sang in the choir:
“Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before!”
I played in the handbell choir. They gave the biggest kid the largest bells. I got the two biggest, low E and low F!
Well, the Sunday Lynn and I visited, even after all those years, I still recognized some of the faces there. The minister was a very nice young guy who’s only been there for a couple years.
But, when the sermon started, I fell back into the pattern of doing what I used to do every Sunday while listening to the sermon:
I started thinking about . . . Lunch. What was I going to have for lunch?
It’s true. Even after all those years, I was good for about 30 seconds, and then, boom, lost interest. The God talk, the Bible stories.
They didn’t make a lot of sense to me then. They still don’t.
After high school, I headed off to college and left church, of any kind, far behind.
Many years later, in Moline, Illinois, Lynn and I met, fell in love and decided to get married. But the question was, where? Neither of us wanted to return to our Protestant roots. Someone said, “You really ought to try that Unitarian Church across the river in Davenport, Iowa.” We did! It changed our lives!
In no time at all, we were drawn into the whole Unitarian Universalist experience. Sermons that made sense! Rational discourse! Independent thinking! True community activism! Honest caring for one another!
In 1983, when we moved to Ohio, we were proud to help get the MVUUC started.
We all know that the MVUUC has had some tough years.....
And I don’t know if you yet realize it, but since Lynn Kerr came on board, wonderful things are happening here. I firmly believe that this congregation is on its way to becoming the strongest it’s ever been!
The MVUUC is changing lives. I see it. It’s changing mine.
My name is Steve Israel, and that’s “Why I Belong.”