The story of how I came to UUCC is a little serendipitous.
I grew up attending a nondenominational Protestant church where my mother worked as the Director of Children and Youth Ministries. I knew the church like the back of my hand. I had a group of friends, which was more than I had at my school, and I loved my church family. And they loved me. I was doted on. Cooed over. Berated for running in the halls. And most importantly, Jan, the Sunday receptionist, saved the leftover bread from the early Sunday morning communion service for me. I munched on it as my breakfast during children’s choir.
I loved the history and the stories and even the moral lessons I learned in Sunday school. But, as with many people, the actual religion part… the Believe-That-An-All-Powerful-Omnipresent-God-Was-Infallible-Yet-He-Flooded-The-Whole-Earth-For-Not-Worshiping-Him part was not meant for me. By the time I got to high school, I was decidedly agnostic.
Throughout college, I’d heard about a type of religion that doesn’t actually have a deity but still has the community that many people love about church. I did not know what it was called, though. I remember mentioning the existence of this strange yet wonderful community to a friend’s family as a fun fact. Her family was astonished and horrified.
“What do they even do? What can they possibly talk about? What do they teach their children?”
I had none of the answers to their questions. But their response only solidified that I wanted to learn more about this new community.
Well, life happened. I moved to Maryland. Graduated from college. Got married. We bought a house. And then Zach and I started talking about children. Which meant I needed to get a job. And the conversation of a family reminded me about my desire to find that elusive religious community.
Well, I was searching online for a new job and stumbled upon a listing for an office assistant job at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbia. Immediately the name jogged something in my brain, and I started doing some research. I applied and that Sunday, before my interview, Zach and I attended a service.
Being a newcomer is often an awkward situation. It certainly was for us. We didn’t know any of the norms at UUCC. Which door to enter? Which Sanctuary was the right one? Do we sign some kind of book for attendance? Why does no one clap after performances? Who is everyone?
But a greeter saw us and helped us navigate the new space. Many people in the congregation noticed us and welcomed us. We had lovely conversations with members who did their best to make us feel comfortable. When they found out that we liked music they emphasized UUCC’s lovely musicians and choir.
It was important to Zach and me to give UUCC its own version of an interview just as I had one for the job. Whether I got the job or not, we were considering UUCC as our faith community. I wanted the same kind of life for my daughter that I grew up with. A community of loving, doting elders, a group of friends, valuable lessons about history and morality, and more.
What is so amazing right now, now that we have returned to in-person worship, is that we are all visitors. We are all new and uncertain each time we arrive at service. Which door can we come in? Do we need to pre-register? Do we have to sign in when we get there? Can we sing? Who is everyone?
Yes, things have changed, and change does often prompt growth. But some things have stayed the same. There is still gorgeous music and great conversation, with strangers and old friends alike. Congregants still welcome you and do their best to make you feel comfortable. And there is still a Hospitality Team of greeters and ushers there to help everyone navigate their way through the new and evolving space that is our familiar and beloved Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbia, in the beautiful Owen Brown Interfaith Center.
If you would like more information about the process of attending worship service, click here.
If you would like to join our Hospitality Team (greeters, ushers, and other Sunday volunteer jobs), email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.