Today the minister of Valley UU Congregation in Chandler, Ariz., Burnette broke from Christian fundamentalism when his first child was born. “My image was of God as parent, and I asked myself what would it take to punish this little guy forever—it was impossible,” he said.
Burnette first learned about Unitarian Universalism on the Internet. In 2007, he became a UU minister and was hired by the UU Community Church of Hendricks County in Danville, Ind., which subsequently called him to a settled ministry.
“It was a wonderful experience. They helped me grow so much and shaped me as a minister,” he remembered.
Called to Valley UU in 2012, he moved to the Phoenix area with wife Heather, a labor and delivery nurse, and children Marcus, 12, and Josie, 6. “Phoenix is more progressive than people think it is, but there’s still a lot of work to do here. Immigration is a big issue,” he said.
Burnette, 38, ran for the UUA board because “it was a really dark-night-of-the-soul experience losing that sense of the God of my childhood, and UUism gave me room to do that and to maintain my ministry. I want to give back.”
He serves on the board’s Emerging Congregations Working Group and soon will be convener of the Governance Working Group. “Unitarian Universalism has a unique role in the religious world that is really important right now, and I want to help us foster growth at the leading edge,” he said.
Though his parents initially had a hard time with his spiritual transformation, “My dad said at one point, ‘Love is more important than theology.’ That was huge. I think in some ways our relationship is deeper now than ever.”
Photograph (above): The Rev. Andy Burnette, UUA trustee, June 2014 (© Nancy Pierce/UUA).