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Patricia Frevert, editor of Welcome: A Unitarian Universalist Primer, has served as publishing director for the UUA since 1986. Here she talks about how she chose what to include, the look of the book, and being a newcomer to a Unitarian Universalist (UU) church herself once.
How did you conceive of
Welcome: A Unitarian Universalist Primer?
When I was first introduced
to Unitarian Universalism (UUism) more than 20 years ago, I was sometimes confused by
the vocabulary and the acronyms. Over time, I discovered that many other
denominations had a wider range of introductory resources than we did.
Then, one day about a year ago I was having lunch with a couple members of the
Skinner Board. We agreed that there was a need for a new introduction for
newcomers, and we talked about what it should be: small, attractive, inexpensive
and totally transparent, something you would understand even if you had no other
knowledge of UUism. Welcome came out of that luncheon conversation.
How did you decide what
exactly should be included? Were there aspects of the faith that ended up on the
cutting room floor?I
imagined the reader as a first-time visitor to a UU church, and tried to answer
the questions they might ask. The table of contents grew organically. I decided
to favor prayers and readings from Singing the Living Tradition, knowing
that these were in wide use. I hoped to strike a balance between the
historic and the contemporary, between the spiritual and the humanistic, the
inspirational and the factual. The book went though many drafts as we
debated the number of essays and the variety of worship readings. The only texts
that ended up on the cutting room floor were ones we couldn’t find the source or
obtain permission for. On the other hand, a last-minute surprise was
finding a way to include the hymns “Spirit of Life,” and “We Gather
Together.” We were working on Come Sing a Song with Me at the time,
so we knew which songs were widely used and how to best simplify them for this
Did you have input from
ministers or congregational growth experts? If so, what kinds of things did they
have to say?The history essay, “The
Story of Unitarian Universalism,” went through several revisions as it was
reviewed and corrected by ministers and UU history buffs. The articles on
religious education and social justice were also reviewed and revised by Skinner
Board members and UUA staff with expertise and experience in those
Did you learn anything new
about Unitarian Universalism from your work editing this
like many faith traditions, honors language—both spoken and written. I can’t say
this was a new idea to me, but putting this little book together certainly
confirmed it. We have always treasured words, not only to share our story but
also to express our religious beliefs. There was no shortage of
Which of the quotable
quotes is your favorite?I
don’t have a single favorite, but as soon as I knew we were going to have a
“Quotable Quotes” section in the primer, I knew we would include Forrest Church’s words: “Religion is our human
response to the dual reality of being alive and having to
How do you anticipate
congregations will use Welcome?
new-member classes, as recognition gifts for Coming-of-Agers and others, in
church foyers for visitors, and even in the pews.
How do you anticipate
individuals will use it?I’m not sure I know yet.
Perhaps for gifts, or as an information resource—the glossary at the back is
Tell us about the design of
wanted something that looked like a prayer book or poetry, and something durable
that would last.
For more information contact web @ uua.org.
This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations.
Please consider making a donation today.
Last updated on Wednesday, June 2, 2010.
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