Like many of my generation I was brought up with Christianity. I went to Sunday school and at school there was a daily Christian Assembly with bible reading, hymn and prayers. I enjoyed the hymn singing and I loved the stories. All went well until one day in April 1952 we had the story of Doubting Thomas who would not believe in Jesus’ resurrection until he saw Jesus alive with nail-holes in his hands and the spear wound in his side. The story finished with the words:
‘Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed’.
These words filled me with indignation. What was so good about believing something that seemed to be impossible?
There were other things that rankled but I persevered. I was confirmed, attended church every week but it became harder and harder to recite the creed when I believed so little of it. Questions to adults provided no satisfactory answers so I stopped going to church and called myself an atheist. However I missed the ritual, the music, the poetry and the symbolism, and the striving with others to live a better life.
In 2001 I attended a Unitarian funeral. It was about the man I had known and, for once, I was not mentally contradicting the minister. I attended other Unitarian services and I had the experience that I have since learned is very common – I felt as though I was coming home. At last I had found a faith community that celebrates life, where reasoning and questioning are welcomed, that can accommodate a wide range of beliefs and that does not see scepticism as a barrier to spiritual growth.
There must be many people who, as I was, are searching for meaning in their lives but do not wish to surrender their ability to think for themselves. It would be wonderful if we could find a way to reach such people so that they too, with the loving support of a Unitarian community, might become more fully themselves.