Turning Our Beliefs into Action

Turning Our Beliefs into Action

Religion is the way you live your life, my (later) childhood minister the Rev. Paul Beattie used to say. This was a helpful way for me to think about what it meant to be a Unitarian Universalist, particularly in those days, when so many of my religious peers pointed to more commonly understood rituals and practices of their traditions. While he said this decades ago, and I’ve had much more practice talking about religion, it still rings true. We demonstrate who we are and what we believe by how we live. 

Shifts in ministerial staffing have led me to assume primary responsibility for our faith in action ministries, already with a very solid infrastructure, strong teams, and great leaders. And while we say ‘primary responsibility’, this is one of those areas in which it feels like support and empowerment for our teams is really what I do. At a meeting of the faith in action leaders in January, we crafted a calendar in which a monthly spotlight on a team is connecting our entire congregation more closely and deeply to the relevant issues. If you have been participating in worship in March, you will likely know that we’ve been focusing on immigration and refugee response, issues that are urgent and immediate, given the presence of so many new neighbors seeking asylum in Oak Park (and surrounding communities.) In April, it will be eco-justice. And so on. You can learn more about Unity Temple’s faith in action ministries on our website and YouTube channel

Each one of us has the ability to lend ourselves–with time, talent, treasure or otherwise–to work towards a difference in the world. And one of the gifts of being part of a congregation is that we can connect with others who share our passion, and work together to make an even greater impact. And our congregation, in turn, can connect with other congregations (Unitarian Universalist and otherwise), multiplying our effect even more. One way in which this happens is through and with the Unitarian Universalist Advocacy Network of Illinois (UUANI). 

We are connected to UUANI in multiple ways (Executive Director the Rev. Scott Aaseng is Unity Temple’s affiliated community minister), and their mission is to “build power among UU congregations in Illinois to accountably advocate with those who have been historically marginalized.” Through UUANI, we are now participating in their congregational catalyst program. Unity Temple member Nancy Ford is our congregational catalyst, meeting with people to help connect their passions with opportunities. It is a (very) part-time paid position, and she also has a team of volunteer catalysts in the congregation doing the same work: Jennifer Evans, Barb Heskett, and Rich Pokorny. The catalyst team would love to hear from you! You can reach them at nford@unitytemple.org. Nancy’s energy and passion and vision have further widened the new possibilities this team and this program will bring, helping more of us translate our beliefs into actions. 

When I hear the words, Religion is how you live your life, it urges me to ponder the choices I make in my daily life. And it reminds me to consider how I turn my beliefs into actions to change the world. There are so many ways we can do this–through financial giving, through direct service, through legislative advocacy, or all of the above. I look forward to living into these questions and opportunities more deeply in the year to come.