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LEADER RESOURCE 3: Newcomers' Bios

My name is Susan.

I'm 45 years old, single, unemployed, and pregnant.

My mother is a Unitarian Universalist in another state, so I thought I would come to the local UU congregation to see what they have to offer. I haven't been inside a church in 35 years.

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My name is Edwin.

I'm 68 years old, and my wife of 40 years recently died of cancer. I'm retired, and I have a lot of health problems. I was raised Catholic, but I don't feel like I can trust the church. But I can't stay home by myself, either.

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My name is Gerry.

I'm 42 years old, and I teach in a public school. No one knows that I'm gay—not my family or friends or, most importantly, people at the school. Naturally I spend a lot of time alone, and several times I've considered ending my life.

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My name is Ariel.

I'm 19 years old. My three-year-old daughter and I recently moved to this area after leaving my abusive boyfriend. I'm looking for a job, but I don't have anyone to watch my daughter. I've never been to a church, but I'm trying to make a "fresh start" in life.

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My name is David.

I'm 25 years old, and I have a form of autism that makes it hard for me to have a regular job. I live in a group home around the corner, and since I can't drive, I have to walk everywhere. I noticed this church, and your sign that "All Are Welcome."

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My name is Barbara.

I was raised as a Unitarian Universalist, and I haven't been active in a congregation since high school. But I've recently moved to this area with my new husband and baby, and I can't find anyone around who seems to be like me. I'm vegan, and I walk everywhere, and I plan on nursing my baby as long as she wants to nurse.

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My name is Humberto.

When I was young I thought I wanted to be a priest, and I even went to seminary for a while. But I couldn't make the commitments required for that lifestyle, and became disenchanted with religion. Lately I've been feeling this great emptiness inside of me, and a friend suggested that I check out the church he goes to in Seattle—the Unitarian Universalist congregation.

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My name is Margaret.

I'm 14 years old, and my parents are divorced. When I'm with my mom, I go to her fundamentalist Christian church. My dad hasn't really had a church, but he's so upset that I have to go to church with her, he's decided he wants me to go to another church when I'm with him. This is the one he picked.

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My name is Diane.

I was raised in the Catholic Church, but I didn't go after I turned 18. My husband was raised as a Unitarian Universalist, and so, when we had a son, I thought we might go back to his church. But my husband won't go, he says he doesn't much like those people.

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My name is Carlene.

I'm 44 years old, a successful businesswoman, working in cosmetics for African American women. My work has forced me to move away from my family and church too many times to count, but it looks like I'll be here for a while. When I go to the local churches of my faith tradition, it seems as though all the people there are poor, and I'm not.

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My name is Bert.

I'm 50 years old, and I recently lost my job through "downsizing." I can't stand being at home with my wife, who keeps asking me when I'm going to go back to work. I came to a public event at this church, and instead of listening to the speaker, I spent my whole time reading literature about your religion.

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My name is Jeff.

I'm 32 years old, and work in construction. I come to this church for NA meetings; I've been clean for 6 months. The first time I came here I read the UU Principles on the wall and I started remembering how much I used to read about world religions when I was in college.

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My name is Shirley.

I'm 83 years old, and I was once a part of this congregation, but there were things happening back then that made me angry, and I left. I've broken my hip—twice—and the doctor says that I have to get out more and move around.

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My name is Arthur.

I'm 48 years old, and I have been living with HIV for about 10 years. My partner left me five years ago, and except for people in my AIDS support group, I don't have many friends. Since last month, when my benefits ended, I've been living in my car. I can't say why I decided to come to this building this particular Sunday, I just seem to find myself here.

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My name is Huang.

I am 27 years old and studying at the university. I grew up in China and was an engineer there, but, my certifications are no good here, so I must study more before I will be able to work in my profession. My religion is my family religion, basically Buddhist and Confucian, but I am not very religious and I am certainly not a Christian. I decided to come to this church because I am living alone here and do not know many people. Each Sunday I see people gathering at this church so I decided to come and see.

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My name is Maria.

I'm 65 years old, highly educated, and fluent in three languages. I know that my English is heavily accented, but I also know that it is absolutely grammatically correct. My experience in mainline congregations is that people shake my hand, nod politely, and walk away. I wonder if the UU church will be different.

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My name is Lisa.

I'm 36 years old, single, and have an 8-year-old son. I work two jobs to earn enough to live, so there isn't a lot of extra time in the day. I'm worried that my son's only time with other kids is in school.

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My name is Oscar.

I'm 78 years old, and my wife Mary has Alzheimer's disease. We've gone to the Methodist church all of our lives, but recently Mary has become disruptive in services, and the minister talked to me about whether it was "good"—for Mary and for the congregation—to have her there. One of the reasons we go to church is so that, for one hour, I don't have to watch her like a hawk.

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My name is Jane.

I am 67 years old, and my husband died 15 years ago. I have five children, all of whom have moved away from the area. I have my women friends, and we go out to lunch, shopping, and so forth. They all have a church that they go to on Sundays, but my husband was an atheist, so we never had that tradition. They've all invited me to come to their religions, but I don't want to be proselytized.

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My name is Amber.

I'm 18 years old, and I grew up in a really cool Unitarian Universalist congregation in Washington, D.C. —that's where all my friends were. But my dad took a job here and now I have to finish high school here. My parents are thinking that if they join the local Unitarian Universalist congregation, I'll feel more "at home." Oh, and as a moving "present," they let me get my tongue, eyebrow and nose pierced.

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My name is Jules.

I'm a large person. I weigh about 400 pounds. My social worker told me that I needed to get away from my apartment more often because when I'm home I eat constantly. I used to go to church, but as I grew heavier, people started avoiding me.

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My name is Frank.

I've come here a number of times, and started talking to the folks who seem to be in charge. They all seem really nice, but I don't have much patience for religion. And they haven't asked me many personal questions—which is good, because I'm an ex-convict, and that tends to drive people away.

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My name is Reba.

I'm 42 years old, and I'm an out lesbian—have been since I was 14. I drive a Harley, and as an EMT, I move in some pretty tough circles. My partner, a singer, and I came here on Coming Out Day—and I have to say the words I heard in that service were unlike any I had heard in a church.

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My name is Tanya.

I'm a Republican, and I work for the county. I've never heard of Unitarian Universalism, but when I was reading the local paper, I noticed a piece about a UU congregation hosting a program about the war in Iraq. I'm not sure what to think about a church that speaks openly about politics, but my interest has been piqued.

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My name is Beth.

My son, James, is 12 now. He was diagnosed as autistic when he was 18 months old. He's taller, and stronger, than me now, and moving into adolescence, too. When he was young, we went to the church where he went to nursery school, because everything was familiar to him, and so it was easier on both of us. But now I need a place for my own religious and spiritual growth. Leaving him home alone is not an option.

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My name is Ben.

I am Latino-looking, and I have come this morning dressed as I would on any Sunday—clean, pressed jeans, and a clean, pressed shirt. I know people will notice me. They always do, because I don't look like most UUs. I know I'll be treated "differently," but I'm always curious about what that will be. You see, I'm a Unitarian Universalist minister, and I like to visit different congregations while I'm on vacation, although I don't identify myself as a minister.

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Last updated on Wednesday, October 26, 2011.

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