As a Wellspring facilitator, I look forward to our monthly planning session with the other facilitator and our associate minister. It’s a little like our own Wellspring meeting, even though there are only the three of us, and it nourishes us all. We start out with a check-in, just as we do in our groups, and then we review what we’ve done in the most recent Wellspring sessions and where we’re going next. And that’s the exciting part.
In the Wellspring program, we’re moving this week from spiritual journeys to our Unitarian Universalist history, starting with a discussion about the UU Principles and Purposes. Last year we had this discussion at the end of the year. We realized that participants who were new to our denomination hadn’t always understood the threads woven through the history readings because they didn’t know what we believe in common as UU’s, so now we’re discussing the principles and purposes earlier in the year. We talk about our current beliefs in the context of what we still keep from our childhood faith traditions – or lack thereof – and what we have rejected from those traditions.
Unlike others in my Wellspring group, my faith tradition is Unitarian. From the time I was three or four, I was raised in the Unitarian church, went to Unitarian Sunday school and joined LRY as a teenager. But I wasn’t comfortable standing out from the crowd, and being a Unitarian felt a little weird to me. The only easy explanation of our beliefs was that we believed “in the divinity of man [sic – this was the fifties, after all] and the humanity of Jesus.” One year in Sunday school we studied the Church Around the Corner, visiting different churches and synagogues, and I wanted to convert to any one of them because they seemed so certain of what they believed – and they had great rituals, unlike my austere Unitarian church.
So in my first year of Wellspring, the readings on Unitarian history opened my eyes and my heart. It gave me an appreciation for the long history of Unitarians – a tradition of brave, independent thinkers who dared to challenge authority because of their conviction that they had the right to think for themselves. It’s taken me years to recognize that my values and beliefs come from these forbearers, strong, brave people who were seen as heretics in their time. I love Wellspring because it encourages us to think for ourselves while valuing the beliefs we hold in common. It has helped me articulate my own beliefs in my own language – and, most importantly, to feel comfortable speaking about those beliefs to others. I am truly a Unitarian Universalist and glad for it, and Wellspring has given me the tools I need to tell the world about it. May it be so for all of us.