I am vying with several others for being active in the Utica Unitarian Universalist Church for the longest time. We started attending the yellow-brick church on Oneida Square in 1960 when we moved to Utica.
In my early years I attended an Episcopal church hear Chicago, later joining a Presbyterian Church in my teens. During college at Purdue, I sampled many different denominations but couldn’t seem to find the right fit. After getting married and moving to Binghamton we found the UU Church there because of an ad in the newspaper that appealed to us. Every week they would post a small ad with a different, intriguing quotation.
Thus we sought out the church here when we moved. I felt we had found a place where we could feel at home with a group of like-minded people, where we were able to express our opinions without being criticized. I made friends in the church, our children attended the church school, which had enough children then for classes targeted to each age group, and my two daughters were married in the church (both now married 30 years).
I was very active in various church groups over the years, and even became Administrator of the St. Lawrence District (which no longer exists) and Unirondack. I suppose it was an excuse to get out of the house and socialize, as well as a job allowing me to be home with my children. The church was also was a place where I could grow and become more confident as I was forced into leadership roles that did not feel very comfortable. Growth plus change is never an easy road.
Now I am grateful for the opportunities and support that the UU Church of Utica has provided me. It is not a place of rote recitation and boring liturgies, but a place for thoughtful reflection, new ideas and inclusiveness. No one is telling us what we must believe. Respect for different ways of believing is immensely important, though often very difficult.