Good morning. My name is Wayne Dawkins. I have been a member of this congregation since 1998.
I am also a rare "cradle Unitarian", with roots going back to my birth in the mid-1950s in New York.
The UU Fellowship of the Peninsula changed my life, and I have played a part in changing the culture of the UUFP. So have many of you. The relationship is co-dependent for so many right reasons.
During a 22-year journey, we’ve embraced the value and essentialness of having settled ministers. We’ve also learned about the essentialness of shared ministry; there are roles for each of us.
We’re a place where I am moved by Sunday Services that blend tradition, faith and reason.
IT IS TRULY mystery and wonder that despite a pandemic that has shut us in, the virus has not SHUT US DOWN. Our congregation transitioned to Sunday Zoom gatherings and consistently about half of our membership have been engaged in the services.
It is also heartwarming that I have been welcomed home. Since 2017, I have been teaching, and living most of the time, in Maryland, until my wife Claudia Cox and I returned to our permanent home in Suffolk, Virginia.
Many of you said how happy you were to see us again, and we so appreciate you.
Since 2004, I have been to a delegate to six UU Association General Assemblies. It is always an honor to represent the UUFP. Sometimes I’ve carried our banner at the opening ceremony. A personal ritual of mine is to look for the Massachusetts church that was established in 1630s, evidence that our spiritual roots are deep.
At the Charlotte gathering in 2011, I realized that our religious community was about to outgrow the term fellowship. We are now bigger than the former label.
I realize that the term “church” used to give some of you here the heebie-jeebies, but have no fear, we’ve evolved and grown into a congregation.
We’re a place with soulful singing and swinging instrumentation, whether it is the ChorUUs or “Doc” Robin van Tine at the keyboards, often accompanied by his wife and soloist, Lucy van Tine.
We’re a place where we appreciate and marvel at the religious education our children receive. In fact, before our very eyes, several children have grown into theologians, leading congregations of their own.
We’re a place where I am moved by Sunday Services that blend tradition, faith and reason. I always feel better when I make it to this community. I’m inspired and comforted too. There have been times when the words in some hymn made my eyes water and momentarily blur my vision. Those words gave me strength and resolve as I privately navigated personal struggles.
I see I am not alone. I am with people of faith, commitment and service.
The people and this institution changed and enriched my life.
That is why I am a member of the UU Fellowship of the Peninsula.