Community, connection, and fellowship

A reflection by Cheryl Bartholomew,
PruCom President

There’s something about the fall season – the crispness to the air, the vibrant colors, geese, pumpkins, apples, mums on porches – that invites me to think about change and possibility. I’ve been thinking a lot about community these past several weeks. Community, connection, and fellowship. Community is what brought me to First U, and community is what keeps me here. I arrived almost 20 years ago searching for a spiritual home and a community where I felt validated and embraced. I had previously been involved with a meditation group where, although I felt fed by the spiritual practice, my need for community was not being satisfied. Leaving that spiritual home was a wrenching experience. It took a few years before I felt ready to open myself up to other possibilities. I was fortunate to hear about Unitarian Universalism through my father-in-law. My husband had also dabbled a bit in it, and it was at his encouragement that we began coming to First U.

I was looking for a place where I wouldn’t have to buy into a specific doctrine or ritual. I was looking for a place where I would be free to explore what spirituality means to me. I was also seeking to engage and to put my beliefs into action. I wanted to engage with others who were seeking, and to find where and how we might act together to create community. I wanted to be in community with others who were trying to figure out what they valued. I then wanted to live those values. I found all of this and more here at First U. The first Sunday of the new church year, Homecoming Sunday, has become a recalibration point for me. How has the past year been? Have I been living my life in a way that reflects my beliefs and values? What might I need to change, tweak, or adjust? How have I grown and changed over the past year? How will I choose to move forward? Being here in community encourages and supports my investigation of these questions.

Over the years I have been involved in many communities here. I’ve been part of a Chalice Circle, I’ve been a member of committees, I’ve attended suppers, and memorial services. I’ve sat in the Meeting House and been moved by the youth of this congregation. I’ve been challenged and fed by the words of different ministers. I have been given so much, and I have given of myself in return. This community has encouraged and supported me. It has helped me find balance and maturity. It’s offered me a place to feel protected and pushed, in turn. It has introduced me to so many people to whom I feel connected.

I have been looking forward to this fall in particular due to the expansion of our small group ministry program. Joining a Soul Circle or Chalice Circle is a great way to make connections and deepen relationships with fellow UU’s. I have registered for a Soul Circle and look forward to the first meeting. I am excited about entering into yet another community here at First U. I can’t wait to see where it takes me. Whether you are new here, or if you are a longtime member, I hope you’ll consider joining a small group ministry.

If you are searching for community or a homecoming, I would encourage you to jump in, open yourself up to opportunities, and embrace the possibilities. See you on Sunday!