At the Unitarian
Universalist (UU) Fellowship of Centre County, many people travel a distance to
attend church. Located in State College, Pennsylvania, the UU Fellowship is the only liberal church
in the county; the closest Unitarian Universalist church is in Altoona, over an hour
To meet this need, the
congregation, under the guidance of Director of Religious Education Jean Wiant,
established the Long Distance Traveler's (LDT) group.
Wiant said, "I am an LDT
myself, as I travel 35-45 minutes to get to the Fellowship for work. During my first year at the UU Church of
Washington Crossing I made a nearly two hour (one way) commute, and when I lived
in Galloway Township,
New Jersey, I traveled an hour to
get to the UU Church of Ocean County.
So I know about the difficulties that LDT's face from my own personal
experience. It is difficult to get
involved in anything that goes on during the week, because of the travel
time. Sometimes it is difficult to
get to the Sunday morning service because of bad weather or snow covered roads
in the winter. The less often that
a person comes to the church, the less likely it is that they stay
connected. It is just too difficult
to get to know other members, to take a class, to participate in activities, or
even be on a committee!"
Centre County Membership Committee
decided to try and address this problem with a creative solution. They gave Wiant the names of people who
travel at least thirty minutes to get to the Fellowship. She contacted everyone on the list,
sharing her own LDT experiences with them.
She was able to set up one carpool between two people who live nine miles
apart. She also let them know about
the Church of the Larger Fellowship (CLF) as an option for times when they can't
get to church, for on-line classes, and for on-line
Wiant also decided to set up
a once a month gathering of the LDT's after the Sunday service. They met for the first time in January
2007, and carpooled from the church to a nearby restaurant. The group discussed what they would like
to have in the way of Sunday afternoon programming (since other evenings are
Suggestions included a
once-a-month gathering with either a pot luck or bring-it-yourself bag lunch (or
lunch at a restaurant); returning to the church for an afternoon of board games;
watching the videos that have been presented at the church's Wonderful Soulful
Wednesdays diversity series followed by discussion; starting a Small Group
Ministry; or taking an Adult Enrichment class. The group also felt that they should
meet on Sundays when there is programming offered later in the
Wiant says, "The next three
gatherings of the LDT's are on Sundays when there are Winterfest Concerts. We will eat lunch, come back to the
church for games, and then attend the concerts. Beyond that, when the Winterfest
Concerts end, we'll meet on Sundays when there is a family service in the
evening. Between lunch and the
service, we will play board games, and explore adult curricula so that the group
can decide on one to take beginning in the fall."
LDT's are grateful that someone noticed that it is difficult for them to get to
church and remain involved. They
have gained renewed interest in Unitarian Universalism and in the
Fellowship. They are now making
connections with others in the Fellowship, and hopefully, will be able to enjoy
some of the things that other members take for granted.
For more information contact conglife @ uua.org.
This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations.
Please consider making a donation today.
Last updated on Thursday, October 2, 2014.
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