Sunday worship: ‘We’ve found our center’

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The Rev. Peter Morales, president of the Unitarian Universalist Association, welcomed GA attendees and visitors from the Charlotte community into Sunday morning worship. “We gather this morning in gratitude,” said Morales.

After the assembly clapped, sang, and stomped along with the opening song “Life Up Your Voice,” the Rev. Scott Tayler, co-minister of the First Unitarian Church of Rochester, N.Y., invited those assembled to “use our imaginations and bodies” in a time of play. He tossed an imaginary ball in the air, inflated the ball, and then heaved the now seemingly giant ball into the crowd to be passed between groups of people jumping up to catch it.

“Why begin with a silly game? Because being able to see what isn’t fully real yet and be able to reach for it is what saves the world,” said Tayler.

The Rev. Jason Shelton, associate minister of music at the First UU Church of Nashville, Tenn., led the song “Joy Comes Back” and an offering was collected to benefit the Mecklenburg Ministries, a Charlotte-based non-profit organization that “promotes interfaith relationships, fosters racial and ethnic understanding, and inspires collaboration to address social issues.”

In her sermon, the Rev. Kaaren Anderson, co-minister at the First Unitarian Church of Rochester, N.Y., said the theist/atheist debate is “not by any measure who we are anymore.” The important question is not what you believe, according to Anderson, but “does your belief lead to practical compassion?”

Our religious common ground rests in experiences which lead to greater compassion and connection. “We’ve found our center,” said Anderson, “We just haven’t named it as that yet.”

Our love for Unitarian Universalism is not based in the intellectual freedom provided by our faith, said Anderson. “It is because your congregations helped illumine how your beliefs connected you to others.”

“Connection,” Anderson said, pausing to look over the crowd. “It does not matter how we got there. And that is the most important belief of all. The one that goes front and center.”

Those attending the service gave a standing ovation after Anderson’s sermon.

Watch the worship service, read the sermon, and see other texts related to this morning’s service at

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