the OUUC spark
March 30, 2023
How Our Pledge Now Reflects Our Commitment - Frank and Pam Turner
In the context of this month’s Stewardship Drive we have been asking ourselves, “Considering all the ways we can support OUUC, how important is our financial support?”
We have had a lot of experience changing churches. Together, we have joined or attended a number of them, including Congregational, Methodist, Presbyterian and Unitarian Universalist. Individually, we had attended Christian Science, Friends, Presbyterian, and a community Union Church with our families. Some of this interdenominational turmoil was the result of moving. Our moves to Maryland, California, Oregon, and Washington provided convenient excuses for leaving a church. In each new home we established ourselves in a church that seemed suitable and convenient. We were in a routine. We were busy. We were “spiritual.” But we were skeptical.
Our commitment to these churches remained tenuous. At times we even felt preyed upon. We were uneasy reciting creeds and participating in Communion--did those rituals commit us to something? We once witnessed conflict within a congregation that tore the church apart. Church members and clergy behaved poorly. We sensed that congregational support for the church and clergy was missing. That said, we enjoyed our church experiences and took part in church programs that weren’t too “churchy’-- choir, Sunday School, Easter egg hunts, candle-making and decorating gingerbread houses. We developed deep friendships that lasted longer than our relationship with the churches.
Our connection to OUUC began in the 1990s. We would visit Olympia two or three times a year to see our daughters who were in college here. We enjoyed the services and the people we met. Years later, in 2014, we moved here. In our first week we volunteered at the Food Bank and attended our first OUUC service as Olympia residents. We were disappointed to learn that this first commitment to OUUC was Arthur Vaeni’s last Sunday as minister. We wished Arthur well and settled in to see what was in the cards.
Over the next several years we continued to enjoy OUUC traditions and services as three interim ministers came and went. We were aware of conversations about people leaving the church, but it seemed pretty normal to us after all the turmoil we had witnessed. Frank joined the choir. Pam joined Pastoral Care Team. We joined other groups and attended some educational programs. We put money in the plate each Sunday. We were pleased not to have to recite the Creed. We enjoyed the stories, including stories from our Christian backgrounds, even if we did not believe everything. We did not feel pressured to conform, and welcomed the welcome, but….
We resisted becoming members for a few years. While we gave, we can’t recall when we started pledging. Based on earlier church experiences, we wanted to protect ourselves. We agreed what was most important was to support this church and the ministers who were doing their best for us—where we felt we truly belonged. We joined, we pledged. We participated. We did not want this experience to end like our other church connections. In retrospect, our commitment to OUUC became stronger because of our commitment.
When Rev. Mary arrived in 2019, we looked forward to years of calm and predictability. Our commitment deepened as we witnessed resilience on all levels during the tumultuous COVID years. Church leadership dealt with whole new ways of managing constant challenges. Choir practice moved online! The tech team and staff learned how to reach our congregation—in services, teams, small groups, and classes through live streaming! Through it all, the congregation continued to support housing programs, climate action, and social justice through Share the Plate, book sales, and the Auction. OUUC survived and thrived!
We have been grateful seeing how for three years these unexpected and frequent challenges have been met with grace and skill, despite their high emotional and financial cost.
Now, as we return to in-person services and events, we realize our congregation faces a new reality, not a return to normal. This includes the ever-growing need to support the staff, programs, multi-platform connections, community outreach, and physical needs of this church that has become such an important part of our lives. Our sense of commitment has grown. because we realize that we have found a congregation that really works for us.
We feel proud that we stuck it out when things were a little rocky, both for OUUC and for us personally. We feel supported. We like the ways we have grown and how all of us at our UUC are helping make the world better. We are committed for the long haul. That truly feels good!
This spring we have taken the stewardship campaign to heart. We have discussed our pledge and our relationship to OUUC. We’ve talked about all the ways the congregation supports itself and the institution, and vice versa. We thought about the years ahead. As grateful and committed members, our pledge reflects how much we value OUUC and our desire to support it responsibly into the ever-uncertain future. We encourage everyone to review the Stewardship information and pledging guidance on-line and join us in deeply considering all the ways OUUC both supports and needs you.
Tiny Little News Show
THIS WEEKEND: Labyrinth Comes to OUUC!
As we move into the season of Spring, Easter and Passover, Mary Ellen Johnson, long-time labyrinth facilitator, will bring her labyrinth to the OUUC sanctuary to help us mark these holy days.
All ages are welcome to an open labyrinth walk on Friday, March 31 from 4:00 - 7:00 pm.
Everyone is invited to a workshop titled “Labyrinth 202 – Further Along the Journey” on Saturday, April 1 from 9:30 am - 12:00 pm. No experience with a labyrinth is required, everyone welcome. You can register here.
THIS WEEK AT OUUC
Olympia Unitarian Universalist Congregation
Tuesday - Thursday, 10:00 am - 2:00 pm