Last week, Kate Franta shared her thoughts about First Unitarian Church as part of the Stewardship Moment during worship.
“I believe it was my first year attending this church when Rev. Mary Katherine Morn came here to preach about stewardship and commitment. Then we sang that song, and I glanced at the credit at the bottom of the page in the hymnal to see Mary Katherine Morn was, indeed the author of the lyrics we were singing. Every time we sing “The Fire of Commitment,” I flash back to that moment and remember gazing at Rev. Mary Katherine and wondering, “Are we singing her hymn well enough in her presence? Does she hear her hymn every time she is a guest preacher?” I recall hoping she still liked hearing her work.
It was another two or three years before I realized that this church was not just any Unitarian Universalist church. I knew it was my church–almost from the first moment I entered the Parish Hall. There was Nancy Pinson to answer all my questions, and Catherine Williamson guided me and my then 4-year-old son back to the education wing. It felt so comfortable and welcoming right from the start. But it also felt Competent. That surprised and pleased me. There were safety measures in place, the people were so friendly and warm. For those of you who have not yet attended an in-person service, I hope you will enter this sanctuary once we can safely gather again in person. It truly is a deeply felt-sense of welcome, and for me at least, of belonging.
But at the time, I had no idea how important this church is to Unitarian Universalism. We are over 150 years old! We are a Green Sanctuary; we have strong task forces that work for Environmental Justice, Human Rights, and those who are aging out of Foster Care. We strive to improve our local community; we have built partnerships with other organizations in downtown Wilmington through the nitty-gritty work of peace-making, of mold remediation, of library bolstering, of feeding the hungry, and of banning those single-use plastic bags. This church is important in our town and in our denomination. These things are important to me because by myself, I can’t do any of it. It is only through acting together that we can have the huge impact our church has in the world. But we are only able to fulfill our mission with participation.
This year has been a challenge for us all. How to participate, how to stay engaged when we are all separately spinning our wheels, unable to physically come together to worship, to plan, to serve? Sunday mornings in-person, we can look to the left and right and see our community. Our friends. Right now, looking to the left and right wherever you are, what do you see? Dishes in the sink? Some mail to sort?
But you are not alone. Our chalice is lit here in the sanctuary to represent our one flame. When I am at home, the chalice that my son crafted a year ago is lit as part of First U’s one flame. We are together, we just aren’t sitting next to each other. We are participating together in worship, in service, and in community.
I hope you feel that Fire of Commitment when you think of First Unitarian Church. Our individual fires are all out there, burning, doing great work that is united by this beloved community. Please consider what this church means to you, the many ways our community touches your life, and consider what you will give to help support this church. Let’s each do our part so our flame can burn even brighter. Your gifts and generosity are deeply appreciated.”