I can't recall what in particular prompted me, about two years ago or so, to begin sending what are referred to as
'unsolicited contributions' to the Unitarian Church of Staten Island. It wasn't a fund-raising appeal. Like many religious institutions, my local UU church has a fund-raising appeal when it passes the basket every Sunday. Though I'd attended a number of non-religious events held at the church since the 1980s when I stopped attending, I hadn't been to a Sunday service in years.
A likelier explanation, I think, is my sense that in order to continue, the church needs the kind of financial stewardship that liberal institutions enjoy only in upper-middle-class or wealthy communities; and that without at least a measure of such stewardship, its handsome old buildings and grounds might not remain what they've been since my wife and I arrived on Staten Island in 1977 --- a place that, with few resources, tries to make room for individuals of all hues and views, based on a pretty simple set of values and principles, starting with respect. No dogma, no sky-gods, no enforced set of beliefs.
More recently, I felt compelled to deepen my connection beyond mere financial support when I saw a 'Black Lives Matter' banner affixed to the outside of the main church building. That was all the prompting I needed to insert myself once again, beyond dollar contributions, into the ongoing life of this church.
I had drifted away for a while in my early fifties (I'm 74 now) in response to what felt like an urgent need to explore an inherited Jewish identity beyond lox-n-bagels and the few Yiddish expressions that were the sum total of my religio-cultural inheritance. I learned a lot from my six years of Torah study and synagogue membership and, despite my many (inevitable) disagreements with the rabbi who was my teacher, and my discomfort in an all-Jewish, all-the-time environment, I look upon those years as fulfilling and worthwhile.
But I'm profoundly grateful that the Unitarian Church of Staten Island --- founded by abolitionists and home to freethinkers of the present day --- was there to receive me and welcome me back into a community committed to opposing the values and worldview of a Trump presidency and working toward a society that operates on principles of freedom, democracy, and social and economic equality and justice.
I'm not certain whether I'll formalize my affiliation as a member, but I intend, from now on, to lend my presence and my moral and financial support to the life and work of this singular community.
NOTE: Church building photo and banner image from the Unitarian Church of Staten Island website at uucsi.org.