Above Board: Church is People

By Pam Kilmer, UUCA Board Member

In a recent UU World article, Janet H. Bowering started by saying, “A church is people. It is not a body of belief, a set of principles, or an impressive structure of stone, wood, and glass.” This statement resonated with me because that is what drew me to UUCA in the first place.

I hadn’t attended any church since I was 21 and living with my parents while earning a little money before my marriage to my college sweetheart. I went because my mother went and because I loved to sing the hymns, but I would mentally argue with many of the things the minister said. After the wedding, I moved to Grand Forks, ND and out of my parents influence. My new husband was contemptuous of churches and would go only if it was someone else’s wedding (and then with much grumbling), so I spent Sunday mornings reading the paper and watching Charles Kuralt on “CBS News Sunday Morning.”

Many years later, after relocation to Atlanta, divorce and remarriage, I found myself back at church with my mother. My father had died after a long decline with Alzheimer’s, and I was visiting Mom to help out. Caring for my father at home for years and then visiting the assisted living residence every day had worn Mom to a frazzle, but her friends were always there to love and support her. Many of those friends were from her church.

When I returned home feeling lonely and sad, it occurred to me that I didn’t have that support system. I knew a few people who went to UUCA, and I suggested to Arlo that we go and just check it out. We enjoyed Dr. Frost’s sermon and were attracted by the energy and acceptance we could sense, so we came back. It might or might not have been enough to keep us coming, but someone suggested we come to a “40-Something” party (now called “Forever Young”) and we were immediately hooked by the friendly, smart and interesting people we met. We kept coming, and here we are 12 years later.

Even if the building was to burn down and our wonderful staff were to move on, UUCA would still exist in the people that make up the congregation. We are the embodiment of our principles, and all our varying beliefs together make up our religion. And that’s how it should be.