Your elevator speeches may be very different from mine. Hone them.
Put a name to what calls you, and to what you find yourself called to do in response. Practice telling it to others.
We have Good News for a world that badly needs it.
In my professional life, I have had the very good fortune to work closely with colleagues on drafting a new set of procedures for special education resulting thus far in a 400-plus page document with text, charts, graphs, and forms. I have also had the opportunity to get to know these colleagues as we share lunches and breaks between the long sessions of debate and group editing.
This past week, “my church” came up while responding to a text, and the immediate question, of course, followed, “So, where do you go to church?” “The Unitarian Universalist Church of Jackson,” I reply matter-of-factly, knowing the next question coming. “Hmmm. So…what’s a Unitarian Universalist?”
Now I know we all talked about our elevator speeches, and I do have one practiced, but this was different. This was someone I know pretty well, especially after working together on a writing team for more than a year. It was someone for whom I do care what she thinks.
I began pointing out that we are non-creedal and are instead in covenantal relationships. I explained about each person’s search for truth and meaning and our congregational role to accept each other and encourage each other to grow. I explained that despite our non-doctrinal nature, we are named after two doctrines declared heresies—Unitarianism, or the non-Trinitarian view of God, and Universalism, or the belief in universal salvation. I talked about my journey from a very conservative, fundamentalist tradition to the liberal religion I now practice. I spoke of how we welcome people from many backgrounds and help heal those who have been battered by the religion of their birth—even if they move on to another path after experiencing the freedom of exploration we offer. I spoke of how we value and embrace female leadership in the church—something I did not experience in the religion of my birth. I even joked that we were the hippie, granola, tree-hugging church, but then backed up to clarify the difference between liberal politics and liberal religion.
I do not know that my words captured the core and essence of Unitarian Universalism, and I don’t know how my friend felt about what I shared. I do know that I felt nervous and awkward, the way many of us Southerners can feel when asked about our faith, knowing how few of those we spend so much of our time with may not agree—or have even considered that our views may be an option or appropriate for a religious community. My friend and colleague responded by sharing her beliefs as a Presbyterian. Together we got to open the door a little more and be our authentic selves. Together we shared our Good News, we experienced acceptance and encouragement, and together we were saved.
In the ordinariness of our days, may we all have divine moments such as these to be unified into the Spirit of Light and Life.
Joy, peace, and love,