Saturday, December 31, 2005

31 December 2005

Hello fellow military UU’s,

And Happy New Year!

At the General Assembly in Ft. Worth, Texas this year, there was a program for UU’s in the Military. Those who organized the program did not have any idea how many would attend, but hoped for at least thirty. Around 200 people attended.

During the program, story after story was told by Military UU’s about their experiences, both as people of liberal faith in the military, and as military members, veterans, and families in a liberal faith.

One thing was clear from the meeting… the UUA is in need of an affiliate organization to help support UU Military members, veterans, families, and defense employees. We also need an organization to be a voice for our liberal faith within the military, to support our UU military chaplains, to aid in the formation of new UU military chaplains, and to work towards social action programs that will benefit our military.

Since General Assembly, a small working group has come together to work for the formation of such an independent affiliate organization, but we need your help. We are in need of dedicated individuals who share this vision to help form a “Charter Board” to draft the “By-laws” and other basic infrastructure to make this organization a reality.

Please visit and join the discussion forum if you wish to serve on the Board, or even if you just wish to provide your support and brainstorm with us.

Also, we invite you to check out the draft of our plan to found this UU Military Independent Affiliate organization.

The official public face of our efforts is the UU's in the Military Blog at (That's here, this was also posted in a few other places)

Our denomination is in need of an organization to outreach to the military, support military UU’s, and to help our congregations better understand and support Military members, families, veterans, and defense employees. Please come join us!

Yours in faith,

David Pyle
Former SGT, U.S. Army
On Behalf of the UU Military Affiliate Organization Working Group

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Hello all,

A friend of mine, a UU currently serving in the Air Force, brought a resource from the UU Washington Office for Advocacy to my attention, and I wanted to share it with you.

It is an article discussing the UUA's relationship with the military, and beginning the discussion about the support that we as a denomination need to be prepared to provide to soldiers, sailors, and airmen, especially those returning from war and their families while they are deployed.

All in all, it is an excellent document. I would have prefered to see more of a mention about supporting military members who are already UU's as well, we have to begin somewhere.

Many of the issues that are discussed in the article are the reasons why we are working to found a UU Affiliate Organizaiton for Military Members, Families, Veterans, and Defense employees.

I am going to provide the link, but also provide a link to a place where this document can be discussed...

Here is the article

If you would like to discuss ways we can implement ideas from this article in founding a UU Affiliate organization for the Military, follow the below link...

It found it heartwarming that a group in our denomination with no overt connection to the military was clear enough about the needs of soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines that the document shows. It also brings forth the problem of how some have been treated in our denomination.

For that article, I think the UU Washington Office for Advocacy should get a Bravo Zulu!

Yours in Faith,


Saturday, December 17, 2005

Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, March 3, 1863, has awarded in the name of Congress the Medal of Honor to Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.

Courtesy of Bill Baar , get the full story here

Monday, December 12, 2005

Why We Do This

Hello All,

It has been sometime sense anyone updated, so I thought i would share some thoughts I had. I was recently asked by a fellow congregate of mine, and a good friend I might add, "What is your goal in [creating a UU Military Affiliate Ogranization]". She was curious and not confrontational. I explained to her that what we think of as the military, the aggression and the never surrender attitude, is only part of the story. In fact I think it is simply the surface of the story.

The amazing part of the stories that many Veterans tell isn't the battles or trials. It is the life long friendships that many of them had made. You never forget that person who lends you a helping hand and shares some of the most profound life experiences with you. I have personally seen Vets who have not seen each other in over 10 years fall into each others arms crying. It is a dignified, honorable, precise occupation to be in the military, it is also likely one of the most deep, emotionally bonding. and sharing experiences many of us have ever had.

I recently saw a television show, a documentary called In the Shadow of the Blade. It follows a restored Huey copter as it travels around the country connecting veterans and family members of those who lost their lives in the Vietnam conflict. The amazing part of this story is just what they where celebrating. It wasn't war - many didn't even understand why they where at war, it wasn't death. It was the celebration of a machine and people who where the healers and hero's. It was the people who faced danger and death to touch down and carry away the injured and pinned down. It was the Angel in OD Green descending from the heavens... To Take You Home.

It is for them, and for the similar hero's of every conflict and in the military today that makes me want to do this. They deserve a group of people who care about them, and can offer them a religious home that suits their needs.

A heart-felt Thank You to the crews and maintenance personnel of the Huey flying machines, to all Vietnam Veterans, and to all Veterans and Military members everywhere.

Until Then, and Always

Monday, November 21, 2005

New Submission in Logo Contest

Hello all,

I have received a new submission in the logo contest... This one is actually not in graphic design, but it words....

I put it forth for your perusal!

Basically it'd be a chalice on the left, bottom, with the flame being like an american flag, not the colors only but the top left being blue with white stars and the res being alternating red and white, but still in the shape of a flame, not rectangular, more like the flame is reflecting an american flag. Then an arc of pink hearts would come up to the right from the flame and at the top of the arc would be a camoflage colored dove. So that it would look like the dove flew out of the chalice and it leaves a line of hearts that represent love behind it as it flies. The dove of course represents freedom, the chalice: UU, and the hearts: love.

This came to us from Gretchen McCready. I like the idea of the flame being the flag!

Yours in Faith,


Thursday, November 17, 2005

Military Readiness Act

According to The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network now a full one hundred US Senators and Representatives support the repeal of Don't Ask - Don't Tell and favor the Military Readiness Act which would end discrimination in our military forces based on a individuals sexual orientation.

What is amazing to me is the growing amount of traditionally conservative Congress Persons who are supporting this act. To be honest i was worried that this bill was ill timed. I was worried that presenting it would cause a back-lash against homosexual issues nationwide. It has yet not garnered the type of national exposure many of us expected to see. When it finally does hit the mainstream it will be interesting to see how America reacts.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

More from Fort Drum...

Connie Holberg writes:
All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church in Watertown, New York is the closest UU congregation to Fort Drum, home of the 10th Mountain Division. Our Web site is We have military members too. Unfortunately they tend to move on to other bases, and are also often deployed for long periods of time.

Thanks, Connie! All Souls Watertown is now on the list. That's three "All Souls" with military members.

Monday, November 14, 2005

This next submission in the UU Military Affiliate Organization logo contest that I am sponsoring is coming to us from David Concepcion.

This is exactly why I am glad I put out the call. I would never have thought of turning dogtags into a chalice! How cool is that?

One thing that came to mind in doing this is that, having multiple submissions is a great thing, because just having the logo will not be enough. We will need other graphics as well, for websites and brochures. I am fairly certain that all of these will be used, when I think about it!

Yours in Faith,


Sunday, November 13, 2005

Hello Everyone!

I have received our first official submission in our process of developing and then selecting a logo for the UU Military Affiliate Organization that we are working to found.

This entry comes from Erik David Carlson, one of the founding members of the Church of the Younger Fellowship, and . Erik is also in my class at Meadville Lombard, and will make an incredible minister some day...

Now, these entries are concept drawings... even when we choose one, we are going to want to have a professional graphics artist to create the final version... Luckily, one has offered her services! Thank you Cynthia!

But, when she asked me what I thought such a logo could look like, I simply had no clue. So, I put out the call for logo designs, and thanks to Erik David we have our first entry! As we get more, I will post them here!

Yours in Faith,

David Pyle
Galveston Island, TX

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Another Military UU Congregation

Thanks to Caroline from the All Souls Unitarian Church in Tulsa, OK for pointing out that her congregation has military members, including her son Avery who is in the Army in Iraq. Surely there are more out there - e-mail us and we'll add them to the links section.

Friday, November 11, 2005

What Does Veterans Day Mean To Us

Tomorrow is Veterans Day, it is a national holiday but the only people off work are likely to be federal employees and people who work at banks. Originally called Armistice Day it was meant not only as a celebration of victory of World War I, but as a celebration of the desire and hope that in the future nations would resolve conflicts through peaceful means. We know now that War would come again to our world. So often, in fact, that it is sometimes hard to picture a people actually believing that they had seen the end of military conflict. After World War II and The Korean War the holiday was renamed Veteran's Day, so that we could honor all who have served, and are serving our country. It is a beautiful gesture and last year at this time no less than 3 people came up to me at work and said thank you and shook my hand. It literally brought tears to my eyes. I have a wish though, i wish that on this day we honor each other as veterans and active military personnel, and take pride in our service that we also remember that hope, that desire, that nations may one day settle their conflicts without use of arms. That one day we will honor this day as was originally intended, as a day to look back and say.. Remember when.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Happy Birthday, Marines

On November 10, 1775, the Continental Congress commissioned Samuel Nichols to raise two battalions of Continental Marines. The first recruiting station for what would become the United States Marine Corps was Tun Tavern, a bar in Philadelphia where you can still find cold beer today.

Two hundred thirty years later, Marines serve all over the world and celebrate our birthday and our heritage as "the few, the proud." We just had our cake cutting ceremony here at the Manpower Plans and Policy Division, which I realized was really a worship service.

The word "worship" comes from the Old English weothscipe, the shape of worth. So when we worship, we honor that which has worth - that which is worthy - that which we value. A Marine Corps birthday celebration honors not only our past and history, but the "living tradition" of our Corps.

The liturgy of the cake cutting ceremony centers, as might be expected, on the cutting of a birthday cake. It is much more, however, as the first piece of cake is presented to the oldest Marine present, who in turn presents the second piece to the youngest. This symbolizes the continuity of our Corps and the "passing of the torch" from generation to generation.

The "holy scripture" of this service is the reading of Major General John A. Lejeune's birthday message, written on November 1, 1921, and read each year on this occasion. The "sermon" is the message from the current Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Michael W. Hagee.
The service concludes with the benedictory playing of the Marines' Hymn, and we all get a piece of cake and some punch, in a symbolic "communion of the Corps."

I've belonged to this Church of the Holy Corps for over 17 years. During the last four years, as I've questioned my journey in life, my career choice, and where I'm going, I've often felt like a priest who's lost the faith. On a day like today, however, I feel the same pride I felt when I became a Marine, and tears well up unbidden when I hear the Marines' Hymn. As I near the end of this career, I wonder if I'll always have this reaction on November 10th.

I guess I probably will - as they say, once a Marine, always a Marine.

Semper Fidelis, and Happy Birthday.

Coalition Forces, Iraqis Open Soccer Field

This article is from I don't normally agree with a lot of the site, but this article caught my eye.

TALL AFAR, Iraq, Nov. 8, 2005 — Coalition forces, in cooperation with local residents, constructed and opened a soccer field at the Al Zahawe School in the neighborhood of Sarai here, Nov. 5.

"It is basically a goodwill gesture from the coalition forces to the Sarai neighborhood," said U.S. Army Capt. Ryan Hambleton, a team leader in the 401st Civil Affairs Battalion.

Sarai, a Sunni area, was one of the more deeply effected neighborhoods during the military actions in early September.

With over 50 children attending the opening of the "football" field, the day was filled with the joyous yelling, laughter and soccer.

Elements from the 2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division and 3rd Armored Calvary Regiment assisted elements of the 401st Civil Affairs Battalion, who coordinated the event.

A flatbed tractor trailer brought the newly constructed goal posts to a dirt field located behind the school where they were soon put into place at opposing ends.
Carefully laying down lines of chalk, a local Iraqi man marked the boundaries and goal lines of the field.

Nets donated by Presbyterian College in South Carolina were strung up with black wire ties after a team effort by the children to reach the top of the post.
Once the field was ready for play, the anticipation increased as the children waited for a soccer ball. Lined up against a wall, the children waited anxiously for the battalion commander of the 2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment and an Iraqi general to open the field.

As several paratroopers and Iraqi policeman took to the field to challenge the children in a friendly game, the field was officially opened.
The children of the neighborhood were given ten balls by the coalition forces to use on their new field.

A similar project is in place to create a soccer field in a Shiite populated neighborhood.

The first thought that came to my mind is.. Why the hell are we not supporting these kinds of efforts? The truth is, regardless or not if you supported the US invasion of Iraq, we are there and we need to do everything we can to fulfill the mission and get out. We also need to leave Iraqis with some sense that those of us back in the States do want them to succeed and do want them to be free.

Now i do know that getting any kind of congregational agreement that even hints at supporting the war would be damn near impossible, that is why we need an affiliate or office of military ministry. I imagine a lot of UUs would get on board if they had an institution to do so with.

Service is Our Prayer

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

New Member Checking In


I just wanted to take a second and introduce myself. My name is Jamie and i live with my partner of 5 years in Wadsworth, OH. I am a member of the UU Church of Akron, and The Church of the Larger Fellowship. I have a new personal Blog as well called Trivium. I am also a lister and on the UUMil- l.

I am a veteran, having served in the US Army Reserves from 1991 till 1999. My MOS was 63D10 (Self-Propelled field artillery Systems Mechanic). My original unit (3/92 FA) was comprised M110 Howitzers. My primary role was as a recovery vehicle operator. In that capacity i was the driver/operator of M88 and M578 recovery systems.

I have a real desire in supporting our Military both within our UU congregations and in the world at large.

Until Then, and Always

Monday, November 07, 2005

Logo Contest for a UU Military organization.

Hello all!

Well, there are good things afoot! As many of you know, from our experience at the 2005 General Assembly, a determination was made that the UUA needed an affiliate organization (and perhaps eventually an official UUA Office) to support and minister to UU Military Members, Veterans, Families, and DoD employees.

There is some work and coordination being done on this, but I wanted to put out a call. Every UU Organization needs a logo. In fact, the flaming Chalice that is so loved in our denomination began as the logo for the Unitarian Service Committee. It became famous as it was stamped on the side of relief supplies sent out by the USC, and then the UUSC.

But, as everything in our faith, the process to decide upon such a logo should be democratic. First however, we need some submittals. The logo should be based upon the chalice, but should also encorporate the Defense and Military of our nation.

I do ask one favor. If you take on this challenge, please do so in love. Most of us UU's who have been or are currently associated with the Military have experienced prejudice within our own denomination. This is partially our fault, because we have failed to educate some of our fellow UU's on what it means to be a Military UU. Our formation of an Affiliate organization within the UUA is a first step in not only helping our fellow UU's to understand those of us who also serve in the military, but also to be an organized voice for liberal faith within our military, something that is desperately needed.

Now, to kick this off, I will show you all the logo that was used on the program of the "UU's in the Military" Program at General Assembly this year.

Click on the below link to see it!

So, get creative! If your logo is selected, I will personally buy you a coffee cup with the logo you designed on it!

Please send any submissions to me at .

Yours in Faith,
David Pyle
UU Fellowship of Galveston County

Saturday, October 29, 2005

New Links

Check out the new links sidebar, "UU Congregations with Military Members." Want to see your congregation listed? Just e-mail me.

Big thanks to our newest blogger, David Pyle, for this excellent suggestion.

Being a Liberal Patriot

When did it happen that Liberals in this nation were no longer Patriots?

I was speaking with a person about defeating a constitutional amendment here in Texas that would ban gay and common law marriage, when a person listening in accused me of hating America. When I looked at the person in shock, he said that the family was what made America great, and that Gay marriage would destroy America.

I was shocked. Before I could respond, the individual stormed off. I have never, in my life, had someone question my Patriotism. Never.

I am an Eagle Scout, the son of a Soldier, and spent 8 years in the Army myself. I have worked for the American Red Cross, received awards from the American Legion, and am an avid student of American history. When I was in Bosnia, I was proud every day to put on my uniform with the American flag sown on the shoulder.

And yet, because I am a religious and political liberal, it is just assumed that I hate this country. I would be willing to die for this country, and as a soldier I knew I might have been called to take life in defense of it.

This nation was founded as a Liberal Nation. Think back to the radically liberal ideas of the founding fathers. Many of them we have yet to live up to.

We hold these truths to be self-evident:
That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

The Declaration of Independence is a document to stir the soul of any progressive or liberal. It is the grand vision… something the progressive movements of today are severely lacking. The constitution was an experiment in liberal good government that is undeniable. People often forget, the “conservatives” of 1776 supported the British…

I love and believe in America. Though she is not perfect, I think she has done more good than harm in this world, and that is not a thing you can say about many nations throughout history. America is in the position to do even more good within our world in the future, with progressive leadership.

So, why does that gentleman who questioned my patriotism feel that way? Who’s fault is it that the conservatives have wrapped themselves in the American Flag, and left the liberals and progressives out in the cold?

It is our fault. It is the fault of the Liberals in this country. Once again, we have allowed others to define us… and we suffer from the results of having done so. Far from being secondary to our mission in making a better world for our children and grandchildren, I think taking back our identity of being Liberal Patriots of a Liberal Nation is essential to achieving those goals.

Think back to those words from the Declaration of Independence…. That all people are equal, and should be treated as such before the law. That all people have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That Government exists to secure these rights, and that the people should control the government, and even get rid of it if necessary.

A Liberal vision indeed. In the time of a King, saying that governments were formed by the people was radical… Leftist…. Liberal. In a time of aristocracy and slavery, saying that all men are created equal was beyond radical… it was visionary. In a time of privilege for a few, treating everyone equally before the law was unheard of. Telling people they had the rights of their own life, their freedom, and the chance to be happy was promising more than anyone had ever promised a people before.

Now, think on the goals of modern Liberals. We have helped to secure the right to vote for women and non-whites in this country, now we are working to make sure their political voices are heard. We are working to insure that we protect the equality of minorities, and are still fighting for the equality of Gays and lesbians, as well as the handicapped. We defend those who are most often treated unequally before the law. We work to end the death penalty, end unjust mandatory criminal sentences, and live up to the promise that people can have a secure enough standard of living to be able to pursue happiness. Who is securing the environment for future generations to live in happily?

Who indeed are the true inheritors of the Liberal Vision that founded this great nation? Who indeed are the successors to Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Ben Franklin, and ole Tom Paine? Who’s blood is it that should be most stirred… who’s soul is it that should be most called to action by the sight of stars and stripes fluttering in the breeze?

Who is more the American Patriot? Those dedicated to the Liberal vision announced to the world in the Declaration of Independence, or those who defend the rights of the wealthy, powerful, and privileged? Those who seek to expand the rights of all Americans (and even all peoples) or those who seek to restrict them? Would the modern conservatives have identified more with the rebelling colonials, or with the British King?

Those who protect and advance the cause of Liberalism in this nation are the true defenders of what it means to be an American. We have allowed those on the other side of the aisle to claim the title of “Patriot” while spurning the liberal vision that being an American Patriot should require.

We Liberals need to reclaim the flag… Reclaim the pledge…. Reclaim the Declaration of Independence…. and Reclaim our Nation. One nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

(Former) Sergeant Pyle reporting as ordered!

Yes, I know, Sergeant Pyle. Very funny. What is worse, my middle initial is G. It was much worse when I was Private Pyle, David G.

For those of you who dont get why this is funny, Bless your young souls!

Thank you very much, Greg, for your welcome! Finally, we have worked out the technical difficulties!

Well, let us see... I am a U.S. Army Veteran, a former Paratrooper, who spent time in Latin America with the 7th Special Forces Group, and time in Bosnia with the U.S. National Intelligence Cell. In fact, it was my time in Bosnia that started me on the path to becoming a Unitarian Universalist.

Having seen the results of Religious Warfare, I determined to find an religion dedicated to ending religious hatred. That was how I became a UU, but my beliefs have grown so much since then.

After the Army, I completed a Bachelor's degree in History and Political Science, and worked for several years in the Special Events industry. Over time, I became deeply involved in the UU Fellowship of Galveston County (

Eventually, a friend asked me if I was considering Seminary sometime... and things clicked. I had realized that I was so deeply involved, because I was feeling a call to ministry. But what kind of minister? I could be a parish minister, but that didnt seem quite right. Maybe a religious educator...Then, that same friend asked me where I might best serve, and once again it clicked.

Not many who are called to UU ministry have my military background, love of soldiers, and deep belief in liberal religious theology. It is my goal to become a UU Military Chaplain in the U.S. Army.

Now, I am many years away (being a first year student at Meadville Lombard Theological School) and there are many obstacles in my path. I will become a minister in our faith whether that call takes me to the military or not. But such is my goal, and it is something I think this former Sergeant could make his life's work.

So, I hope to contribute here, for now, as a former Sergeant who is learning how to be a Chaplain. I also hope that I will be able to bring more UU's to understand the value of the military as a force for peace, and to help alleviate some of the prejudice that UU military members often feel in their chosen religious faith.

Yours in Faith,
David Pyle
Galveston Island, Texas

"I am a militant pacifist... I will fight for peace!" -- Albert Einstein

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Welcome to new Blogger

Welcome to our newest blogger, David Pyle. Hopefully David will post soon and tell us a bit about himself.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Military Ministry in New York

I recently received the following e-mail from Rev Betsy Spaulding:
I have been the Consulting Minister at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church in Watertown NY which is very close to Fort Drum, for the past two years. I see an opportumity for lots of ministry with the soldiers and families at Fort Drum. We have had several soldiers and a couple of families associated with the congregation over the years. I like to have posted materials that help folks connect with uumil etc. The head Chaplain at Fort Drum welcomed the local clergy to a conference at the base chapel last winter and he seemed open and encouraging of local congregation's serving Ft.Drum people and even holding some events on base (subject to conditions. Drum is home to some 1900 troops and population is growing ... My instinct says there is much ministry to do---but resources from here are "otherwise" being used....Bottom line....I'm wondering if there is a brochure like the one for General Assembly for example, that could be used here at the church or even sent to the Base chapel for display/distribution??? (on a larger scale is there any movement afoot to serve the UUmils in some other way --by grant or financial campaign among the congregations, etc..?...)I'm sure there is work like this going on throughout our congregations - especially in areas near large military bases - but how can it be coordinated? What kind of support is available?
I think we need a UUA affiliated organization for military UUs - a clearing house for resources and a body to sponsor ongoing GA programming. There is an organization for military UUs - UU Military Ministries - but it doesn't seem to be going anywhere. How do we revitalize it? Who's in charge of it? I think awareness of military UU issues is high in some congregations, but lacking in most. My dream is to raise the level of awareness in ALL our congregations, so those of us in uniform are understood and accepted as people, not questioned because of what we do for a paycheck.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Welcome to new blogger

Welcome to the Idealistic Realist, our newest UU military blogger. We look forward to seeing posts from you!

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Pictures from GA 2005

Thanks to GA photographer Fred Garcia for providing these photos of the program "Unitarian Universalists in the Military."

UU Navy Chaplain panelist Cynthia Kane
UU Navy Chaplain Cynthia Kane opened the program with a "roll call."

USMC active duty panelist Greg Rouillard
Active duty Marine Greg Rouillard spoke of his experiences as a UU in the military.

DoD civilian panelist Leana Bresnahan
DoD employee Leana Bresnahan puts her UU values into action at the US Southern Command.

Navy spouse panelist Nancy Hickman
Navy spouse Nancy Hickman supports her husband and UU values.

USMC reservist in audience
A Marine reservist was present in the audience and shared his experience.

Retired MCPO of the Coast Guard in audience
The retired Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard was also in attendance.

Retired Army SGTMAJ in audience
A retired Army Sergeant Major shares her experiences.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Glad to be a part of the UU in the Military Group!

Greetings all!

Well, I'm all logged in, and ready to help get this initiative FINALLY off the ground!I'm very delighted to see that the needs of military members are finally addressed through our faith. As a lifelong UU (fourth generation), and having served 30 years in the USCG, "UU and the Military" group is something that will be a valued interest to hundreds - if not thousands of UUs serving today.I'm glad to be a part of the team. I look forward to assisting with you in spreading the word out to our UU military community.

In Peace....

Vince Patton
Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard, USCG, Retired

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Thanks to everyone who came to the program at GA!

It was very gratifying to have such a great turnout for our program on UUs in the Military. We (the panel members and facilitator) were especially delighted with the variety and substance of the many questions and comments from the audience. We hope this is the beginning of new conversation and community for UU's in the military, and their congregations. If you missed our program, there is a brief writeup on the UUA site at You can also purchase a CD - info on the UUA site at

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Let the Conversation Begin...

Thanks to the organizers and presenters at today's General Assembly program Unitarian Universalists in the Military for a very meaningful panel presentation. Thanks also to all those who attended, and the great stories, comments, and questions.

Check the "Links" section of this page often for links to resources for military and DoD affiliated UUs, and follow the "Become a member today" link in the top right corner of the homepage to add your voice to the conversation.

Friday, June 17, 2005

UU and the Military

We, the member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association, covenant to affirm and promote: Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations.

- Third Principle of
Unitarian Universalism

In the summer of 2003 I attended the Pacific Coast District (of the UUA) Leadership School in Alamo, California. It was a fantastic experience, during which I learned a lot about myself and relating to others in a cooperative, collaborative setting. I also began to see another side of the challenge of being a military UU.

Early on in the week-long school, I met a woman who was quite enthralled that I was a Marine. She was so taken with it, in fact, that she started referring to me as “the Marine” whenever she saw me. This began to really bother me, as I did not want to be “labeled” for my military career, but met and known as another human, UU, and student.

That night during Closing Circle, I requested that people not identify me by my career, anymore than they identified Tom as “the doctor” or Julie as “the body shop owner.” Afterwards, one of the other students came up to me and said “I think it’s funny that you had to ‘come out’ as a Marine, but in this crowd, my being a gay man is totally accepted and unremarkable.” He was right – it was funny. At the same time, however, it is also revealing of the inherent prejudices and opinions of many UUs.

I have found that a lot of older UUs – typically those who lived through and participated in the peace movement in the 1960’s and 1970’s - initially tend to be less accepting of me when they find out I’m in the military. Just as I am a black sheep as one of the very few UUs in the Marine Corps (less than 100 out of 178,000), I also often feel the same way as one of only about 500 active duty military members among 200,000 or so UUs.

Thankfully, I have never encountered any outright hostility from other UUs because of my military affiliation, but there have been some uncomfortable moments when I can see the “barriers of stereotype” come up between me and a person who has just learned I’m a Marine. Others’ reactions in such a situation typically vary from mild surprise to incredulity, and there are always questions about when and why I became a Marine, how long I’ve been a UU, and how that affects and is affected by my identity as a UU.

In particular, I can remember three specific times when I’ve met another UU who discovered that the person I am when she got to know me did not match her stereotyped preconception of who I would be as a Marine. One was a woman in my first congregation who is now a very dear friend, the second was a member of my Covenant Group at General Assembly (GA), and the third was the Starr King seminarian I wrote about in a previous post, “Words.” In all three cases, once these ladies were able to put aside their preconceptions about my attitudes, beliefs, and values, we were able to connect as humans and individuals sharing UU community, and it was enriching on both sides.

Being a military UU is not easy. I have been engaged in an ongoing search for reconciliation between my values and my profession since I became serious about Unitarian Universalism about three years ago. Think of the issues surrounding UUs and the military as two sides of a coin. On one side lies the internal challenge of personal reconciliation and integration – call it “the UU in the military”. On the other side of this coin is the closely related, external institutional challenge of how military UUs are perceived and accepted in our congregations, or “the military in UU.”

If our UU congregations are to be truly welcoming and accepting spiritual homes for all comers, then we as a movement should examine how we deal with military UUs. Do our congregations welcome military members? Are our congregants aware of the challenges facing military UUs? Are we willing to support our military members in their search for reconciliation of values and profession as well as a personal search for truth and meaning?

I have been fortunate to belong to two congregations with a tradition of military-affiliated members. Neither congregation has many active duty members, but both of them enfold many retired or former service men and women and DOD civilian employees. This tradition has set the stage for my acceptance by both congregations. From my brief experiences with other congregations and many conversations on the topic, however, I am concerned that this level of acceptance is uncommon, and in general awareness of military UU issues is low.

Fortunately I am not alone! At GA last summer, I was very fortunate to meet and bond with a small group of fellow military-affiliated UUs: Nancy, a Navy spouse, like me called to UU ministry; Ann, a DOD employee I know from my first congregation; and Dave, a Marine reservist who is going back to school. Ann had the tremendous idea of creating a GA program about these issues, and with a little bit of hard work, we are making her dream a reality for GA 2005. Our program will bring an active duty member, a UU chaplain, a UU military spouse, and a UU DOD civilian together as a panel to share their stories from both sides of the coin of UU and the military.

This GA program is just a starting point for other military UU’s to join in the conversation, and an outreach opportunity to increase the general level of awareness of military members in our congregations. In keeping with the ideal of using education to combat oppression, we see this effort as a first step toward full acceptance of all military UUs as individuals within our congregations.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Military UUs at General Assembly 2005

Join other military UUs at Unitarian Universalists in the Military, GA program #3040, at 11:30 on Saturday, June 25th, in Convention Center Room 100.