Vicki Cunningham

Growing up as a Catholic, I felt a tremendous sense of loss when I could no longer reconcile my reason and beliefs, with those of the Catholic church, and stopped attending. Finding UUCS filled my need for a spiritual community that also respected my own beliefs and experience.

I first learned about Unitarian Universalism in 1989 as a Mom of two young children living 40 miles away from any church that interested me. My sister told me about the “church by mail” offered by the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), then called “The Church of the Larger Fellowship.” I learned to ration out the monthly mailings, reading just one “sermon” a week to savor the open-minded and logical writings,  rather than devouring them all at once.

When we moved to Salem, I quickly found this Salem Unitarian Universalist church, and enrolled my children in the Religious Exploration program. I wanted them to have familiarity with Bible stories, as well as all the other religious traditions of the world, a more open approach than my own strictly Catholic upbringing. Meanwhile I enjoyed the respectful attitude for each person’s search for meaning as I experienced it in each service I attended. Adult RE classes widened my perspective.  I came for the children and I stayed for me.

After a year or two of being a “consumer,” I began to give back, working as an RE teacher, and helping edit the newsletter for seven years. This led to work on  the RE team, policy committees, and eventually work on the board of directors and then the nominating committee.

My children enjoyed the contact with a wider circle of  caring adults and peers through the RE program. I was intensely grateful for the Our Whole Lives program that offered human sexuality education in an age appropriate way to both my children. It was such a change from my own generation’s general lack of sexuality education.

I enjoy the contact with each of the varying committees and members. I am constantly amazed by the generosity of spirit of so many of our members, and of their capacity for giving of themselves and of their resources. And, giving back gives me meaning and  satisfaction, as well as a wide circle of wonderful people to enjoy.