First, let me wish our UUFP mothers a Happy Mother’s Day. Being a mom was the spark that lit my desire to become a Unitarian. Religion during my childhood meant going to Catholic mass every Sunday and attending catechism classes once a week. As an adult I no longer believed in what I was taught as a child and stopped attending church. However, once I became a parent, I felt I wanted our children to have some religious foundation and community. When Roy and I, along with our three-year-old son, Chris, moved to Newport News in 1981, it was only a matter of weeks before we joined the UUFP. We immediately felt at home, and the fellowship became an integral part of our lives – not just a Sunday morning ritual.
Our second son Matthew was born that December, and his naming ceremony was the first to be held in the present sanctuary. When Chris was the only teen attending regularly, many adults stepped in to encourage, mentor and befriend him. He chose the fellowship as the location for his Eagle Scout ceremony. As the UUFP grew, Matthew was more fortunate to have a strong group of friends his own age in the fellowship. I remember camping trips, kite flying on the Yorktown battlefield, potluck dinners, marches for social justice, distributing food at the foodbank, and Halloween costume parties. These many activities gave our sons fond childhood memories and instilled in them the importance of caring for others.
Being a member of the UUFP has always given me opportunities to grow and try different skills. One of my first attempts at something new involved editing and printing our newsletter, The Flame, which I found to be a most rewarding job for a stay at home mom with a baby and a preschooler. The role of Religious Education Director encouraged me to get to know the families of our fellowship better. More recently, involvement with the Membership Committee, facilitating fellowship circles, contributing to the Caring Committee, and organizing volunteers for PORT, the Winter Homeless Shelter, all foster relationships and keep me active in my retirement years. You could say we are a Fellowship for all seasons of life.
By the time our sons were grown and moved away, the UUFP was not just church – it had become family in the truest sense of the word offering us support, love, compassion, understanding, and connection to like-minded people. I have found lasting friendships with many of you through shared books and travel, shared food and recipes at potlucks, and shared ideas in Adult Forum, committees, workshops, Second Sunday Lunch, Book Club, and fellowship circles. You have been with us during life’s milestones both joyous and sad. This is doubly important to Roy and me as neither of our families live nearby.
I have told you about the UUFP in my past and present. Will it be a part of my future? There is no doubt in my mind that it will be. I am still learning, growing, and getting to know all of you. I still trust in the promises of life that our fellowship offers. If you are wondering whether the UUFP is the right place for you, I encourage you to get involved in as many activities as you feel comfortable. It is through involvement that you will get to know and appreciate the wonderful people here at UUFP - for it is the people, not the building, that makes us who we are