Wednesday, May 23, 2007

First Unitarian follow-up letters

It has been a while since we received a non-form letter from a church, so I thought I'd post both letters that we received from First United. (I'm not trying to glib, I just think it's funny that we're getting some "not UU!" attitude, but they do so much to stand out from other churches!)

The first letter we received on Tuesday, from Reverend Sharon Dittmar herself.

The second we received today (Wednesday), from Linda, and though it is more form-y than the first, it still makes specific reference to the blog, etc.

I'm not going to type 'em up... just click 'em and they should be legible.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Church #38: First Unitarian Church of Cincinnati

1. Who attended? Bradley & Erica.

How welcome did you feel at this church?
1: I was so uncomfortable and/or offended that I did not stay to the end of services.
10: This church was welcoming and thought-provoking. I would recommend that others experience this church.

ERICA: 9.5.
BRADLEY: 9, solid nine for being an awesome church

3. Picture(s) of the church

4. Name/location of the church:
First Unitarian Church of Cincinnati
536 Linton Street
Cincinnati, OH 45219

5. Was it recommended to Church Hop?
Nope, but since we liked last week's UU church so much, we thought we should explore others.

6. Time/duration of services:

7. What type of religion did the church cater to?
Universalist Unitarianism.

8. Who did you meet?
A woman named Linda greeted us right away, showed us where things were, told us a brief history of the church (it was Taft's home church?!), etc. She also found us after services and introduced us to Reverend Sharon Dittmar.

9. If applicable, scans of handouts, tracts, etc

10. Church Hopper’s personal experience with the church, additional details:

ERICA: As we mentioned last week, the Church Hop project isn't over. We did want to check out other UU churches, and the next closest one that I could find online was off of Reading Road... a half-hour trek from home. (I guess with that in mind, I was kind of hoping to like Heritage a little bit more, haha.)

My first thoughts of the church were about how beautiful it was. Even on the outside, this historical church just appealed to me aesthetically. Gorgeous. And inside was the same story, with brilliant, detailed stained glass (I'm nuts for stained glass), a large historical plaque, etc.

Right away, Linda greeted us and made us feel at home... she didn't pressure us about anything, but let us know what was going on so we didn't feel lost. (It was Youth Sunday-- more on that in a second.) We had name tags within minutes, and she said that she'd find us after the service.

Youth Sunday was really cool to sit in on-- they let all the high school students take complete control over the service. There was music and a skit and all the components of a regular service, but they ran everything. Many of them were graduating seniors, and there was a small send-off for them, too. While I wish that I could have heard Reverend Dittmar run a service, it was a very warm thing to take part in.

Oh, and they asked their visitors to stand, which I hate-- but they at least did word it as "if you feel comfortable doing so, please stand." I at least felt as though it were my choice to feel humiliated, haha. I think there was one other pair of visitors, who stood after we stood, and everyone clapped. Eek.

After service, just as she promised, Linda found us and introduced us to Reverend Dittmar. She welcomed us again and we told her that we had visited Heritage last week, and were curious about other UU churches. She supported the decision and we told her we'd visit again some day, which we almost definitely will.

I know that a lot of Church Hop readers have expressed their distaste for the UU faith, but today definitely backed up the way I felt about Heritage. Even hearing the words of the high school students today... they were so open and accepting, all about equality and choice. This is definitely something I want in my life, even if I haven't figured out in what capacity just yet. ;)

Brad: I can't really believe that in such a short time, Erica and I have found such a deep connection with an idea like these. It's not that I'm captivated by the idea of a new thing, but that idea of me getting excited about going to a church with a group of people who share the same thoughts I have. That's why it felt good to go to another Unitarian church, because I knew we would probably get an experience close to the one we had last Sunday.

The first thing you should know about this church is that it's magnificently beautiful. I mean, just really amazing, between the large architecture, and the stained glass, it really tied the church together. Upon entering, Erica and I were greeted quickly, and very kindly by a group of women who seemed more than eager to explain what and who they were.

After some brief introductions, and explanations of the goings-on, we moved into our seats to welcome the message-given by their high school members. I always feel a little weird receiving a message by kids my age, but overall, they did a pretty good job. Anyway, I was totally blown away by the fact that they played Zeppelin during the offering, and it had a lot to do with following your dreams-which was the overall message. Like I said, they did a good job, but I would also like to come back when their regular Reverend Dittmar is speaking.

One thing Erica mentioned, that I wanted to talk about, is that they made the visitors of the church stand up to be viewed by the entire congregation. This really doesn't bother me too much, as I know it really bothers Erica. I don't know, it might just be past experience for her-but I feel like people can already spot a visitor, and is already started the process of viewing us as such. So I guess it's just not that big of a problem for me. Oh well.

Anyway, not a bad church, but definitely a church worth going back to again.