If you asked me why I...
I never set out to give a sermon. And yet, there I was, standing in front of a congregation behind the pulpit. Here's the very short version of how I got there...
In December 2017, (about six months ago), my family and I started attending our local Unitarian Universalist church.
Even as a child, I was a spiritual seeker even though I've had a complicated relationship with the idea of "church."
With that history, I wasn't sure what to expect at the Unitarian Universalist Community of the Mountains. This experience is different than any I've ever had. It feels healthy, authentic, progressive, and of course, imperfect. Over these months, both my education and appreciation of the UU philosophy have grown.
This local community states their thoughtfully crafted mission as:
"With courageous love and a sense of wonder, we cultivate our spiritual, emotional, and intellectual strength to create a world more compassionate, sustainable, and just."
With a mission like that and the 7th Principle, "Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part," I HAD to ask about their position on animals. I discovered that it's an area of focus and there's even an Animal Ministry for that exploration. Wahoo!
As the wonderful minister Reverend Kevin Tarsa and I got to talking more about what they're about and what brings me alive in life, he invited me to deliver a sermon to encourage us to widen our circles of compassion to include animals, which is in excellent alignment with their stated mission. Of course, I was ecstatic and honored by his invitation.
The video above is what I shared. We live in a rural community with a great interest in backyard animal agriculture, so I wasn't sure how this message would be received.
This was the first time I'd spoken to a group that wasn't present specifically to learn more about veganism, and I continue to be awed by their reception, enthusiasm, and engagement. ~25% of the attendees signed up for the challenge I offered!
This is a church community where you're not told what to believe, instead, you're supported in a "free and responsible search for truth and meaning." At our local congregation, the minister is gay, diversity and inclusion are so deeply valued that there is a social justice committee, members show up for marches against racism, a #MeToo service is offered, and we are encouraged to push the boundaries of our comfort zones. How refreshing (especially in this political climate) and deeply healing.
And that's how I ended up speaking about veganism from a real-live pulpit. There was no choir that day.
P.S. Learn more about how to go vegan here.