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Reflections from Rev. Emily Gage

What Does It Mean To Be a Community of Welcome?

After a long journey away, the Unitarian Universalist Congregation is finally home. Finally back in our restored home, and finally settling into our new offices/classroom space at 1019 South Boulevard. 

As the program year begins, we expect to be welcoming lots of people to Unity Temple—folks who have been away, folks who will be coming for the first time, folks who are regular attenders. It feels to me like we have, in Unity Temple, a building of welcome. No longer falling apart, no longer leaking when it rains, just incredible beauty—something to be joyful about and celebrate with those who are among us. For years, our congregation has done well at being a people of welcome, but honestly, it really helps to have a building of welcome, too. One of our greeters was talking the other night about how she loves bringing first time people through the cloisters and up into the sanctuary for the first time. It gives her both an opportunity to have a conversation with a newcomer and to share the experience of seeing the space with fresh eyes.

Equally exciting to me is moving into the new space at 1019 South Boulevard—for the first time that anyone can remember, all of our staff is going to be housed in the same space. And for the first time since I’ve been at Unity Temple, my office is easily accessible and findable. Two more things that will make it easier to be a people of welcome. The space at 1019 feels good—there’s something about it that just has a positive aura. But the best part to me is that it just seems so huge. For the first time that anyone can remember, we are going to have enough space—with even a little spare—for our young people’s programming on Sunday mornings. For so long, our programming has been constrained by the limits of the space with which to offer programming. Now, suddenly, we will be able to envision possibilities we dared not even conceive of. So many opportunities to be a people of welcome.

At Unity Temple Unitarian Universalist Congregation, we have a chalice lighting that we use with our young people (and everyone during Worship for All Ages). It goes like this: “We are Unitarian Universalists. This is the church of the open mind, the loving heart, and the helping hands. We take care of the planet Earth, and each other.” Those very words define us as a people of welcome. Especially in today’s political climate, with so much hate and fear, people are aching to find a place where they are free to be who they are. May we continue to open our hearts wide to one another in a world that so badly needs a message of love and acceptance.