Lingering Questions

Lingering Questions

In worship on Sunday, May 2, we shared a Question Box service. As I said in my introduction that day, it was “a service that’s a little out of the ordinary—in which we embrace one of adrienne maree brown’s nine principles of emergent strategy: Less prep, more presence. I have prepared in advance far fewer words than I usually do, but I offer as much of my presence as possible today as we share a service in which you offer up your inquisitiveness and curiosity, and I’ll respond with as much thoughtfulness, honesty, and vulnerability as I can muster in the moment.”

Several dozen questions were submitted to the virtual question box, and I addressed only a portion of them. The service’s audio recording is available online (Question Box), so you may listen to the extemporaneous responses I offered that morning.

But also, the questions themselves are illuminating, because they offer a glimpse into one another’s mindset and curiosity and thoughtfulness and confusion. So, here are all the questions, as submitted. I hope you’ll enjoy reading them and thinking about how you would respond. (Some of these questions brought to mind sermons I’ve delivered at UUCC over the years—including as long ago as 2006!—so I’ve provided links to the texts of a few of them as fodder for your own reflections.)

Question Box – May 2, 2021

  • What is your opinion on deorbiting Mercury into the Sun?
  • Can we bring stuffies or a pet in a carrier to the sanctuary for service when we are back?
  • When will we meet outside together to worship on sanctuary grounds? There could be a hybrid service with those preferring to be virtual to do so.
  • As UUs, we have no shared supernatural belief. So what do we “worship” when we worship on Sunday mornings? (see To Shape Things of Worth sermon, 2007)
  • Since UUism is a non-creedal faith, we don’t have specific tenets of faith that bind us as a congregation, what is at the core of what unites us? (see Back to Basics sermon, about covenant, 2019)
  • Since UU does not have doctrine or dogma is it a “religion?” (see Wounded Words – Religion sermon, 2011)
  • Why do we meet on Sundays? (look at sermons linked above!)
  • How do I explain to my traditional Protestant relatives, that I find UU to be more spiritual/religious than those dogmas?
  • During the congregational prayer, who are we praying to? What answers are we expecting? (see Prayer Changes… sermon, 2006)
  • Is the overarching purpose of UU to help people essentially develop a philosophy for their lives?
  • What does it mean to have faith in the UU sense? Is it hope? Is it optimistic humanism?
  • Do you assume that a 100% Universalist is a Theist?
  • What do you do for selfcare when you are overwhelmed or exhausted?
  • How are you feeling this morning?
  • I notice you do not wear a vestment during our virtual services. Is there a reason? I enjoy your variety.
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of preaching virtually as opposed to in-person?
  • Do you think other life exists in the universe?
  • Paige, why do you support the “Rouse Project”?
  • Can you address Bess Caplan’s questions about the Rouse Project in the Flyer? …What are the true motivations of the Rouse Project?….
  • How can we increase the minority presence in our congregation to be more representative of our community?
  • As UUs, if we pursue adherence to 1 principle but in doing so dishonor another, what is our responsibility?
  • What are your thoughts on liberal process theology?
  • What has been the hardest thing to adjust to now that we can’t be in person?
  • At the beginning of our service there is the statement that we honor the Piscataway people. How do we honor them?
  • Does evangelizing our principles fit within the UU theological and social framework? If so, will it benefit UUCC to engage outside of Columbia?
  • Have your parents (b4 the death of your father) ever visited Columbia? What did they think of things here?
  • Will we need to let staff go if we cannot bring in enough in pledges? Should we consider other ways to get revenue?
  • How is the staff of OBIC and will they be returning when we reopen for worship service?
  • Does a “safe & welcoming community” expect newcomers to assimilate to our congregational culture? Or can we adapt our culture thru their influence?
  • Would it be possible to examine the tenets of other world religions that mesh with UU Values in future services?
  • How do you view the relationship between practicing faith (like UU) and the necessity to be active in one’s community/activism and advocacy? (see False Dichotomy sermon, about the tension between spirituality and social justice, 2018)
  • How do we deal with the discouraging feeling that so many people (because of nature or nurture) are damaging the happiness and well-being of others?
  • Given our diverse beliefs, how do we avoid judging “the other?” Specifically, about politics and social issues.
  • What do you think about having “partner churches” in the community – ones with other ethnic and racial composition?

Yours inquisitively,


  1. Ken Stevens

    How I, as a non-member, would respond to this question:
    “How can we increase the minority presence in our congregation to be more representative of our community?”
    Everyone is free to choose their own religion or non-religion. Some people are traditionally “religious” (in the usual sense of the word) and would not want to attend services that don’t fit their particular mind-set. You can’t force anyone to attend UU services if they’d rather not do so.
    On the other hand, from my observance, UUs are extremely welcoming of all comers and they should have no need to feel guilty about who attends and who doesn’t attend or not being exactly representative of the surrounding community.

    • Inge Hyder

      Thank You, Ken — that’s exactly my view, only I haven’t been able to state it that well.

  2. Ray Donaldson

    I read the list of questions and found some of them very similar to ones I might ask. I moved to Columbia in 1972 and have been a member of Oakland Mills Uniting Church/Columbia United Christian Church (CUCC) since then. Phil Curren, our current pastor, once told me he did not feel qualified to answer some of the questions I was discussing with him. He suggested that perhaps I should discuss them at your congregation. I never got around to visiting, but a friend who attends UUCC added my name to your email list. I don’t read your emails in detail, but I look through them sufficiently to get some sense of your congregation. I participated in the “Where are the children?” project with your congregation. I have been a member of Westar Institute and a local “Jesus Seminar Study Group” (JSSG) associated with it since the late 20th century. I consider myself to be a follower of the historical Jesus, a wisdom teacher. I find Westar’s critical study of the “Judeo-Christian-Secular” development of western values to be extremely interesting. I have been part of Friends of Latin America (FoLA) since 1985. I hope the Interfaith Centers and local organizations will continue to make Howard County a great place to live. Shalom.

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