In anticipation of our Bring a Friend Sunday on March 19, I have been practicing my UU “elevator speech.” Just what is an elevator speech? It’s what you would say if, while on an elevator going from the lobby to the sixth floor (or back again), someone asks, “What is a Unitarian Universalist?” You don’t have all day; you’ve got forty-five seconds.
Former UUA president, Reverend Bill Sinkford wrote about this back in 2003. Back then, his was: “The Unitarian side tells us that there is only one God, one spirit of life, one power of love. The Universalist side tells us that God is a loving God, condemning none of us, valuing the spark of divinity that is in every human being.” His even shorter version was: “One God, no one left behind.”
Here is mine from 3½ years ago when I was in seminary (boy, is it mouthful!):
Ours is a faith strengthened by engagement and contrast, rather than fidelity or uniformity. How we live out our values is more important than what we believe, aspiring to embody an inclusive, loving, and just community and world. The healthy fluidity of examined religious beliefs need not compel one to search for a new spiritual home. In gathering together — in the present as well as tracing our historical roots — we believe we can strengthen our spiritual practices and thus transform each other and the world.
I’m pretty sure that I would need to be in a skyscraper to get to the end. Plus, it would put the listener to sleep!
Yours will be different than mine, or Rev. Sinkford’s, and likely even different from someone in the congregation whom you consider your best bud. That’s one of the joys of Unitarian Universalism – we hope to hear resonance in each of them, but no need for uniformity.
Now is a good time to practice your UU elevator speech — here’s a link to some from 2003 that were sent in by readers of the UU magazine, the World: http://archive.uuworld.org/2003/06/ affirmations.html
Practice not just for Bring-a-Friend Sunday, but for every Sunday – The Unitarian Society is experiencing new visitors nearly every week. Plus, when we practice these brief speeches, I think we get clearer not just for other people, but for ourselves.
Here is my latest UU elevator speech:
Unitarian Universalism believes it is up to us to make heaven on earth, whether you believe in god or not, whether you believe in heaven or not. We are good works without hell, and holy inclusivity without original sin. As Unitarian Universalists, we can’t believe anything we want, but are compelled to believe what we must, and to live into community and into a life of integrity, which springs from those beliefs.
I look forward to hearing yours.
I am blessed to be on this journey with you,