Part Three: We are here to welcome people of all beliefs, to value diversity of all types, and to offer a safe place to explore all questions with honesty. ~ From the Mission and Vision Statement
Over fifteen years ago, I walked into Heritage Church hoping to find a faith community that would welcome my gay nephew, if he chose to come here. He and many of the gay and lesbian friends we love were not welcome at the Catholic church I had been attending, even though it was probably the most liberal of all the Catholic churches in Cincinnati.
One of the first things I noticed once inside Heritage’s front door was the rainbow flag. Some months later, a transgender woman was encouraged to share her story during a service. Then, some months after that, a youth who was undergoing a gender transition stood at the podium and shared their experience. “That’s walking the talk,” I remember thinking.
I was a little surprised to learn that members of Heritage were not all Unitarians or Universalists – or either. Some followed the pagan religion, some declared they were atheists, some were nothing at all. Yet all these people were not only welcome, they were encouraged to step forward and identify themselves, share a joy or sorrow, even lead a service, or share their beliefs in some way.
During the years my husband, Forrest, and I have been attending Heritage, we’ve been offered all number of classes in all categories of beliefs and spiritual practice, alongside the Sunday service. Evening and weekend classes, book discussions, Vespers chanting in the spirit of Taizé, drumming, bonfires honoring pagan practices … you name it, it’s been offered.
There is one area of the diversity vision that has been slow to develop, and that’s around racial diversity, for a number of reasons. How can we bridge that gap? How can we “explore that uncomfortable question honestly” – as our mission states? I have witnessed Heritage staying at the table, so to speak. The most recent example occurred when HUUC hosted the Diversity Day which Turpin High School students were barred from holding at their own school.
Visit our website (huuc.net) and you’ll find this description of HUUC:
Individuals in our church draw inspiration from various sources, including Western religions, Eastern religions, pagan practices, and humanist thought. What holds us together is a sense of community and shared principles. By coming together in worship, work and play, we nourish our souls. By participating in social justice initiatives, we help heal the world.
May it continue to be so.