Towanda Universalist Unitarian Fellowship

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 My Search for Religious Freedom 

Sometimes in my life acceptance has not come easily. I've always wanted to be one of the faces in a crowd, low performance pressure, content to blend in. It has been elusive. Born of a Welsh mother and English father and growing up in a small town in Wales, I was something different to the others who had all Welsh families stretching back through the generations. In our town an English person was a novelty.

I came to the US in 1981 as an RN, living first in Texas where friendly well meaning people invited me to Thanksgiving and Christmas. I was there “so you won't be on your own”. They were wonderful friendly gestures, but I always felt on edge - an outsider. So I decided I would prefer to be on my own than be what I felt was “the novelty from another country”.

Things were similar when I moved to New England in the 1990s. It took years to feel welcome there but I won out in the end, and when I was married back in 2000 here at Potterville Church, a whole fleet of cars made their way down from Connecticut to the then Williamston Inn in Wysox, and became my “family” at the wedding as my family couldn't be present. We had another “blessing” ceremony in Wales five weeks later and for once the Anglican Church seemed welcoming to me. I was surrounded by people who cared about me, including my new husband.

Then came Bradford County – a sharp contrast to the cities I'd spent my adult life in. I'm used to it all now. I feel accepted, but spiritually there was a void. I'd been to a few different churches and they left me flat. I never had been one to go the church anyway, but I considered myself a spiritual person, so what to do.

My husband realized one day from the newspaper that the Universalist Unitarian Fellowship was open again in Towanda.  I knew nothing about the place.  I went to the Halloween service there with my husband and I have to say I was immediately overtaken with the feeling of finally fitting in. There are just no biases, people were happy to see me, and made sure I had some coffee and something to eat after the service was over.  Genuine interest and gladness to see me.

So the Universalist Unitarians. Who are they? They are the most welcoming group of people  I have ever met. Anyone from any religion or spiritual path can go there. The services are at 3pm on Sundays, at 305 Second Street in Towanda.  Services range from humanistic to philosophical to religious (any religion).  Anyone can do a service if they wish. It's an open pulpit and people like learning what people have to say.  Anyone can be a friend or member, or just come as a guest. The coffee pot is always on.

You walk your own religious path in this life whether you realize it or not.  Different religions have different takes on how to approach and organize the religious teachings and worship. If that fits you then you are spiritually satisfied. But, there are many who do not feel connected to the religion they grew up with. They are seekers of somewhere where their own personal meaningful beliefs are acceptable, whatever they may be. We are living in times where “church membership” is getting older and dwindling across the board. Especially, not too many of the young people go the churches anymore.

I learned that the Universalist Unitarians (UUs) have no creed, we are guided instead by the principles, our mission statement and our sources all of which are found on the web page listed below. These things resonate within the true heart inside all of us – each to his own. Inside us is the real take on what we believe, and what works for us and we go with that value set as we walk the path of our lives.

Finally I know I am accepted unconditionally. My Spiritual life has found a home and I am happy.

Jean Spencer

TowandaUniversalistUnitarianFellowship.org

(570)744 2823