Thanks to the hard work and bold vision of two of our congregants, the October 20 community fair at Chalice Unitarian Universalist Congregation was a success.
- We met some of our neighbors and made ourselves known as not just a religious community, but as a community center and a good neighbor (our booths included representatives from the Escondido Police, the Red Cross, and our own Social Justice Committee).
- We attracted some visitors who have been interested in the congregation and thought the community fair sounded like a good way to meet us.
- We made information about our upcoming construction project available to the local community.
- We collected five crates of food to donate to the Interfaith Community Services food pantry.
- We collected piles and piles of electronic waste.
- It was multigenerational! Our youngest congregants enjoyed the bounce house, crafts, and music, as well as visiting the booths.
- We enjoyed fine music for a full four hours (many thanks to our wonderful musicians).
- And we gorged ourselves on hot dogs, popcorn, and cookies! (Oh wait, is that a sign of success or just of hunger?)
Increasingly, people’s only exposure to religion is through the media, where hate-filled fear-mongers make headlines more often than those of us quietly working to live our values and make the world a better place. Our community fair was a wonderful way to remind people that liberal religion exists, and that it can be a force for good and a source of community, support, and caring in a hurting world.
This is something we’ve been talking about in the “Articulating Your UU Faith” class. How do we share our religious passion and joy without becoming the kind of aggressive proselytizers that most of us would abhor? And if we don’t find a way to share our religious passion and joy, do we cede the term “religion” to the voices of fear and hate?
I don’t have all the answers, but I can share this: my experience is that people are most curious about Unitarian Universalism when they hear my own enthusiasm for congregational life. I talk about the strength I draw from my religious community, the love and care I offer and receive, the importance of Sunday morning worship in grounding my spiritual life. When people hear and see the comfort and challenge of living a faith-filled life, they are reminded there is more to religion than judgment and fundamentalism.