I still remember the words of welcome at the first UU service I attended. They were: “We welcome you as you are. With your doubts, as well as your convictions. With your hopes, and your fears. Whatever your faith, whatever your heritage, whomever you love, today you are a part of our religious community.”
Then, they lit what appeared to be a candle in a martini glass (it’s called a flaming chalice, and the story is pretty great).
Then, they did something called “Joys and Concerns”, in which whoever wanted to got up and talked for a bit about whatever they wanted, and the worship committee chair sighed pointedly (because Joys and Concerns is supposed to be for marking important milestones, not talking about your furnace repairs). Then there was a sermon for a bit, and then another time where whoever wanted to got up and talked some more (supposedly about their thoughts on the sermon, but the one guy finished his story about his furnace repair).
And I loved it. Because I love church, because I love community, and because I love seeking meaning and awe and wonder and all those good things…. But I always thought they were off limits to me, because I didn’t Believe Properly. Here were all these people, some of whom Believed Properly and some of whom didn’t, and it was fine. Unitarian Universalism is a place where people do all the wonderful joy and muck of religion even though we don’t all believe the same thing. Which, shockingly, seems to work just fine. It entails a lot of consulting and voting, but it works just fine.
Which gives me hope that it will work just fine in the world, someday, too.