Taking our message to the general public.
Now we are ready to undertake a new challenge by speaking our message directly to the general public. I am excited to announce that the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations has just launched a national marketing campaign in partnership with Time magazine. (See “News,” page 43; See below for link.)
In October, the first of eight print advertisements appeared in Time, supported by special content on the magazine’s website directing readers to UUA.org. What makes this campaign truly special is that the UUA is the first organization ever to partner with Time in a unique media project: Our ads will appear along with highlights from Time’s electronic archive of thousands of articles on religion. In acknowledgment of our sponsorship, the Time religion archive features links to special essays on religious topics written especially for this initiative by some of our most inspiring UU leaders.
This historic campaign represents, I believe, what will be remembered by future generations as a milestone in Unitarian Universalist history. Today we are answering the call to make our faith available to those who yearn for a liberal religious home. We have been willing to be the best kept secret in town for far too long. Unitarian Universalism offers the world more than social justice activism. It’s time to spread the “good news” of our liberal faith.
Many of us can relate to the newcomer’s familiar refrain: “Why didn’t I know about this church before?” And some of you will remember the Unitarian ad campaign slogan from the 1950s, “Are You a Unitarian Without Knowing It?” We are the spiritual home many people are seeking. It is time to invite them in. Our religion offers a voice of love and reason that is sorely needed in this wounded world. It is time to speak up, open our doors, and grow into the religious movement our Principles and Purposes call us to be. (They’re printed on the facing page; See below for link.)
Unitarian Universalism may be uncommon among denominations, but Unitarian Universalists need not be. We will always take pride in our courage to speak out against intolerance and injustice, even when it means standing apart from the mainstream. But our liberal faith is beginning to speak with authority to the center of the religious community in this nation.
Will this be challenging? Absolutely. New visitors will arrive in our sanctuaries, and it will require awareness and sincere effort to welcome them in a way that encourages their connection to the heart of our faith community. I believe that we are up to the task. Not only have many congregations been working on this issue already, but there are new resources on UUA.org to assist churches as we continue to deepen in hospitality over the course of the year.
You have already shown your passion for this community and its promise for the future by your participation in Association Sunday on October 14. The money you contributed is funding this exciting campaign. Your future generosity will keep it going and will advance other programs to bring new vitality into Unitarian Universalism and new hope out into the world. Together, we can achieve our goals. We can grow in numbers, in faith, in public witness, and in strength.
I extend my warmest thanks to everyone who has contributed to this special effort, and I offer my appreciation to all of you who are working so hard to make it a success.
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The Rev. Bill Sinkford is a former president of the UUA and now senior minister at First Unitarian in Portland, Oregon. He was appointed Interim Co-President for the roles of President as outlined in the UUA Bylaws on April 10, 2017.