I moved to Knoxville for work in July 2012, and first found out about TVUUC by reading the Metro Pulse.
I’d left the Roman Catholic Church I grew up in in 2000. I will always cherish the Catholic schoolgirl roots bestowed on me by me mother, grandfather and teachers, but as I became older, I felt more and more certain that that nice carpenter fellow who went out of his way to love everybody did not approve of everything coming out of Rome. I believed He, if He was even up there at all, was calling me to seek my spiritual wings in another church, so I decided to listen to Him and go.
So, one night, a neighbor offered me a glass of wine, and the subject of my spirituality somehow came around. “Is there a church around here where it’s OK to like gay people?” I asked. She smiled. “I think I know the place, ” she said.
And so it was that one September Sunday morning I walked up Kingston Pike to TVUUC for the Sunday service.
I had no idea what Unitarian Universalism was. None. I hadn’t even known it even existed. I blundered into the Fellowship Hall and sat down across from Alan Moore and Dick Trowbridge.
In that conversation, Alan in particular awoke me to the openness of the church, to this being a place for everybody whether you believe in God or not. He let me know that I had found the place I’d been looking for, a place that doesn’t discriminate and wouldn’t stand for one strong viewpoint dominating the rest.
I went to the service, where I remember enjoying “Spirit of Life,” and went back to the Fellowship Hall for more coffee, because if there’s one UU talent I’ve had all along, it’s drinking coffee.
I also met Ben Pounds that day, and he agreed to go to UU Conversations with me, where he helped the speaker explain our faith. Five months later, Ben and I started dating, and we have been a couple ever since.
In the past three years, I have come to think of Sundays as my “Church Day.” My day is built around coming here. I have made friends and tried to obey our law of service and the principles that define our faith, although I can’t always say that I’m good at it. In addition to morning service, Ben and I are regulars at Centering Prayer, and it is amazing.
I think the thing about this place is that you give me hope. I am not a hopeful person. I am a cranky person. You don’t see that because when I’m here, I’m happy.
You’re here — you never quit!
You have been given so many reasons to quit, more reasons than I’ve ever been given, but you never, never quit!
I get the feeling that if the apocalypse strikes and the zombies start clambering up Kingston Pike, you’ll just shelter the survivors and plant your tomatoes, every now and then pausing to move the undead aside with your hoes. And because you’ll all be out there doing that, I’ll eventually crawl out from underneath the piano to join you. If anybody could raise zombie-fighting plants, it’d be you people, and I love you for it.
I still don’t know if there’s anyone up there; I’ve settled upon identifying as a UU Christian Agnostic thing. However, I do collect evidence of someone being up there, and that that being is a loving one, and you all are some of the best evidence in favor of that that I’ve ever found.