How can UU congregations and ministers make their non-theist members feel welcome and included? The UU Humanist Association sponsored a panel discussion at the 2014 UUA General Assembly in Providence, RI to consider a number of different ways.
We discussed three main approaches to providing a comfortable environment:
- Dedicate the entire congegation to Humanism. This is the approach taken by Rev. David Breeden's First Unitarian Society in Minneapolis, MN, the "flagship" Humanist congregation in the UUA. This can work well, especially in an area where there are several UU congregations where one can "specialize" in Humanism.
- Have a regular Humanist service. This is how Senior Minister Marlin Lavanhar's congregation, All Souls Unitarian Church in Tulsa, OK, dealt with a merger that resulted in a very theologically-diverse membership.
- Build a strong Humanist local group for mutual support. Chris Stedman, author of the book "Faithiest" and now of the Yale Humanist Community, and Sonia David, an intern at the Humanist Community at Harvard, are working to develop this model.
You can watch the entire presentation here (audio quality is not great) or listen to it below.
A special thank you to our friend Steve Ahlquist from the Humanists of Rhode Island for the video and pictures!