The theme for this year’s Pledge drive is for each of us to consider ourselves as “making the foundation for what follows,” so I’ll tell you a true story about my Unitarian foundations. And, I’ll use that word a lot.
When I first came to town, I was a lonely Atheist getting my copy of the American Atheist Magazine in a brown paper wrapper every month. Brown paper, so that my Bible belt neighbors would not know my secret identity. I was spiritually very lonely and felt that I had nowhere to fit in.
Ben Caum, who was a founding/foundational member of this Fellowship, was a client in our office, and when he found out I was an Atheist, he invited me to come visit the UUFP. Soon I was visiting. I liked what I heard. I joined. I pledged. It was such a relief to find a safe and accepting place where I could be comfortable as an Atheist.
For my first pledge I added up the estimated cost of the coffee I drank, the printing costs of the program and doubled it to $35—my first pledge. It wasn't long before Ben’s wife, Margaret, a larger than life, occasionally outspoken early leader of the UUFP, called me up to discuss the inadequacy of my pledge. My eyes were opened. I was embarrassed. I adjusted my pledge to match the worth of what I had found. [FYI: The Caum Room is named for them and the foundation they helped lay for us.]
Well, I’m still an Atheist—who believes in the incredible combining power of atoms to make us—and all these things around us. For an Atheist, you might guess, I should have a short spiritual journey, but turns out I’m still on it. I have a Community of open-minded people who are incredibly smart and on a weekly basis offer me something new to ponder in the Sermon or Forum. I had a ton of fun a few years back with our now defunct 8 – 80-year-old, co-ed softball team. I have met monthly with our Unitarian’s United for Profit Investment Club, and we have averaged a phenomenal 12% return on investment for the last 23 years (yes, we are still accepting new members). I have been in six Fellowship Circles where we ask such introspective questions of each other that I am forced to ponder things about myself that I would usually never consider. When the Circle members share these thoughts, we are forging the relationships that hold our community together.
These things are important to me, and I enjoy participating and supporting them commensurate with the value they bring to my life. And I know that by doing this, I am also helping to strengthen the foundation that will allow others to build even more opportunities for this Community.