I was raised in the Southern Baptist church. When I was a student at UT, I became active at the Presbyterian Student Center and joined Second Presbyterian Church (yes, the one next door). Ironically, I first heard about Unitarian Universalism when the Presbyterian campus minister invited Phil Hamlin to give a talk one Sunday evening. I didn’t become a Unitarian Universalist and join a UU congregation until several years later when I moved to Chattanooga. I wanted to be part of a community that would allow me to question, learn, and accept my faith, and one that would challenge me to live out my faith in the world. The UU Church of Chattanooga nurtured my faith, my leadership, and my involvement there eventually led to my decision to enter the ministry.
Fast forward to the present. I attend seminary at Meadville Lombard Theological School. Fifteen months ago, I came to Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church to begin a two-year internship as part of my requirements for becoming a minister, and boy, did I hit the jackpot! (Not the money jackpot, the blessing jackpot!) I have been truly blessed by being welcomed into this community and being given the opportunity to learn and to serve on my journey toward ministry.
Here is what I have noticed about TVUUC:
*TVUUC truly welcomes theological diversity. I see that in worship and music and in respectful interactions between people.
*I see committed folk across the lifespan–faithful, active long-term members, the involvement of families in our vibrant religious education program, and participation by college students who are searching for a spiritual home.
*Individually and collectively, the members of TVUUC walk the talk. You are committed to serving people and working for social justice at the local, national, and international levels.
*This building is open to the community and busy all week. There is something going on all the time, either church sponsored events or community groups.
*I see a community who supports those inside and outside the congregation in both spiritual and material ways—though the spiritual care team, generous giving to the helping fund, and collection of food and supplies for those affected by natural disasters and more recently, immigrants who were swept up in ICE raids.
*I see how TVUUC is known for its leadership–in the community, through its interfaith connections… in our denomination, launching leaders such as Elandria Williams who serves as co-moderator to the UUA board and Chris Buice who is serving as chaplain to the UUA board…and as a teaching congregation, contributing to developing ministers through offering internships such as those to Duncan Teague, Jon Coffee, and myself.
Even though I’m rarely able to attend my home congregation in Chattanooga, I support them by pledging. My pledge reflects the importance of the church in my life. And this year, I have decided to pledge to TVUUC as well by contributing 5% of the stipend I receive. In this season of gratitude, I invite you to join me in making a pledge to sustain the work of this church.