Sabbatical Journal: Church Visit to Kitsap Unitarian Universalist Church

Today Katy and I attended Kitsap Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Bremerton. Katy wanted to try this church out because, as an anthropologist, she feels a kinship with Unitarian Universalists, so I agreed to accompany her.

The church building is nestled into the woods on Perry Avenue. It has a bright, airy feel to it with lots of windows facing the forest behind the pulpit. When we arrived, we were greeted with a warm hello and handed a bulletin. There was a cheerful hum of conversation as the pianist played a prelude. The piano was a newish Kawai piano with a bright, clean sound, and the pianist had a sensitive and accurate touch. For me, the music was the best part of our visit.

Today the regular minister was not present (she’s a part-time minister), so the service was led by lay ministers. There was no reading of scripture, and we sang a number of hymns with familiar tunes but altered lyrics (references to God were removed or softened). Unitarian Universalists have no creed and allow a great diversity of belief. In fact, atheists, agnostics, Jews and Buddhists are often members of UU churches.

But it was clear that they were lovely people, concerned about the world and the environment, liberal in their views and progressive in their politics. Although most were silver-haired, there were a number of young families with children. It seemed like a vibrant congregation.

The speaker today was a retired UU minister, speaking on the subject, “What does humanism mean today?” Humanism is the belief that our destiny is in our own hands, not in the hands of a supernatural power. However, our speaker admitted he was a “religious humanist,” and believes that we have experiences of the numinous, even though there is no personal Deity as he understands it. Needless to say, I disagree. For me, God is a person and my relationship to God is personal.

After the service we stayed for coffee in the foyer and several people introduced themselves to us and engaged us in conversation. One fellow invited us to their book study.

Although I missed the presence of God in the service, I did enjoy the music and the people were quite friendly and open. I’d be glad to be a part of their congregation, except that I need the Eucharist to feed my soul.