Faith at Altitude

Religion and spirituality in the shadow of Pikes Peak

Friday, January 26, 2007

Climbing the Mountasia of Faith

Saturday's Gazette features a story about a local Unitarian Universalist church (High Plains Church) moving into its new digs at Mountasia, a one-time family fun center located along Academy Boulevard.

According to High Plains' pastor, the Rev. Matthew Johnson-Doyle, UU leader Rev. William G. Sinkford will officially christen the church's new location this fall. That's a big deal: Sinkford is the first African-American to head one of the country's major denominations, according to Johnson-Doyle. He's bringing new visibility to a stream of faith sometimes misunderstood.

Unitarian Universalism is a fairly quirky denomination. Though it's been part of the American fabric since the country's earliest days -- many past presidents, in fact, have been Unitarians -- it's not precisely Christian.

Unitarian Universalism (actually two separate denominations that joined in 1961) is a sect that draws on lots of different beliefs: While it has its roots in Christianity (the first Unitarians just rejected the concept of the trinity), a UU pastor might as easily quote Buddhist scripture as the Bible, and its members observe whatever religious holidays that they take a fancy to. Members tend to be pretty eclectic: Some would consider themselves to be Christian. Others might not believe in a god at all, but like the idea of religion -- or, at least, the community that a church can provide.

But while a member's theology might run the gamut, their social ethics tend to be fairly uniform. The denomination openly welcomes gays and lesbians -- not only into its churches, but into its leadership. Many UU folks get pretty fired up about poverty and civil rights. The front page of their Web site commemorates the 34th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court case that legalized abortion nationwide.

Unitarian Universalism is, in some ways, a spiritual home for folks who like spirituality but have trouble swallowing any one faith creed. The cliche would be that UU adherents care more about what the questions are than what the answers are.

If you want to know more, check out the UU FAQ site here. It's a wealth of information. For those who want to check out a church in person, there are two in town: All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church downtown, and the previously-mentioned High Plains Church, currently meeting at Timberview Middle School at 8680 Scarborough Drive.


Anonymous zen said...

Excellent post, Paul. Are you by chance a universalist, a sympathizer or any other variant thereof? i.e. are you about the question or the answer?


5:06 PM  
Blogger Paul Asay said...

As a journalist, I'm always about the question! But I'm fascinated by the answers I hear, too.

9:44 AM  
Anonymous zen said...

Nice ambiguous CYA answer, my brother! Spoken like a true fly on the wall... here to observe, but not to stir the waters. I respect that.

I'll drop you an email sometime. I'm curious about your background. You know, things like why you chose to focus on religious writing (if you did indeed choose it as opposed to being assigned). We may or may not have some things in common here.

Peace, Paul...

2:00 PM  

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