This blog has been discontinued. See Adam Gonnerman for all future posts.

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

An Introduction to Beacon Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Summit, New Jersey

In June 2005, less than two months after moving to New Jersey, I slipped into the service already in progress at the Unitarian Church in Summit, New Jersey. Taking it all in, seeing through an evangelical lens, what I saw was a standard mainline Protestant service without reference to the Bible or Jesus. I slipped out again as soon as the service ended, and didn't return again until late 2015, over 10 years later! Now, having been with the congregation (now named Beacon Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Summit) for several years, I have quite a different perspective.

As a member of the Beacon congregation since 2016, I am proud to belong to a community that values inclusivity and spiritual growth. Our mission is to minister to our members and friends, reach out to those in need, and work towards justice and transformation. With about 450 adult members and 150 children living in Summit and surrounding communities, our Beacon building combines a historic sanctuary with modern classrooms and meeting spaces. We are also in the midst of a building campaign.

At Beacon, we aspire towards a "Welcome Table" that offers diverse theologies, generations, orientations, cultures, classes, ethnicities, and races. We aim to satisfy the human yearning for beauty, connectedness, and awe, while also encouraging deep searching of life's mysteries. Our commitment to generosity, leadership, and justice helps us grow and create a welcoming space for all who seek spiritual fulfillment.

That first time I attended a service in 2005 I was looking for something. I was struggling in my evangelical faith and I felt life wasn't going my way in many areas. Beacon was there and ready for me, but I wasn't yet ready for Beacon. What changed in the interim between then and late 2015 was in my. Though my evangelical faith was briefly renewed, by the end of 2013 it evaporated in the light of reason. At that time I was living in Brazil, so it took another couple of years for me to be in a position to visit Beacon again. This time around my son, then in 8th grade, went with me. We both liked what we found there, and in a matter of weeks we became regulars.

Beacon's congregational covenant is grounded in love and antiracism, as we strive to build healthy and loving relationships with one another. We listen deeply, speak compassionately, and embrace our unique diversity while communicating honestly, even in times of conflict. We aim to make amends, forgive, and grow when we hurt one another. As members of the Unitarian Universalist Association, we uphold seven principles, including the inherent worth and dignity of every person, justice and compassion in human relations, and respect for the interdependent web of all existence. We have also adopted an eighth principle.

Overall, I feel fortunate to be a member of the Beacon congregation, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to serve on the board. I look forward to continuing to work towards our mission
of being a radically inclusive religious community that feeds the human spirit and heals the world.