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Being a Church Member

May 10th, 2009

Unitarian Universalist Church of Kent

Unitarian Universalist Church of Kent

Today, I signed the book at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Kent.  The church began its life as a Universalist church in 1868.  It’s much smaller than my previous church, West Shore Unitarian Universalist, which is one of the largest UU churches in Ohio.  When I signed that book, I became a member of UUC of Kent, and there is a lot of responsibility that goes along with the simple action.  Because of that, I have only been an official member of two churches.  If I couldn’t play a role in church life, I wasn’t going to be a member.

And that is essentially what prompted this major life change.  I’ve been going to West Shore since 1997.  By the time I signed the book, I had been pledging for two years and teaching Sunday School for one.  I had a large group of friends that were also active and even after I moved to Akron, it still made sense for me to be there even with the hour drive.  But, things change and one by one, my friends started coming to church with less frequency

Wayne Arnason and Kathleen Rolenz - minsterial team at West Shore

Wayne Arnason and Kathleen Rolenz - minsterial team at West Shore

(marriages, babies, moves, etc.).  I was teaching Sunday School a lot, meaning that I rarely attended services and I was isolated from the grown-ups during coffee hour.  When gas hit $4 a gallon, I had to reevaluate whether I could be an effective member of the church community.

As much as I had given to West Shore through my service, the church had given back to me in abundance.  Teaching Sunday School allowed me to follow the development of a group of smart, funny, talented young people.  Being a member of the Board of Trustees and the Committee on Ministry proved that others believed me capable and valued my opinions.  West Shore gave me the chance to make a difference - over and over again.  Many of the people I met there became my dear and trusted friends - bonds that withstood all of our life journeys.

Melissa Carvill-Ziemer - minster at UU Church of Kent

Melissa Carvill-Ziemer - minster at UU Church of Kent

I’m looking forward to growing into my new church community in Kent.  Last year, I decided to take a breather from West Shore and try a variety of churches.  The first week I went to UUCK - and that was all she wrote.  Joining a small church has challenges that are different, but no less present, than joining a large church.  For both, you have to discover your niche - a crack in the masonry where only you can fit.  That’s my new task.

I don’t say goodbye to my old church and its ministers, Wayne and Kathleen.  Only until later (Jane’s wedding is coming up at the very least).  They were very gracious when I told them I was resigning my membership in West Shore.  And, Wayne was the one who suggested that I check out Melissa’s sermons (they are all great writers - Melissa has the perfect personal touch for being a UU minister).  So, it’s a corner turned.  A minister years ago said, “You will encounter many paths during your life.  When you are deciding what path to take remember, there are no right or wrong choices.  Each will simply take you in a different direction.”  I’m on a new path - I’ll keep you up to date with what I see along the way.

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