Lauren Croce

I hadn’t heard anything about Unitarian Universalism until I was twenty-five years old. Even then, my contact with the faith was limited to attending support groups and social events hosted by these liberal congregations who were reaching out to a growing number of people “coming out” as gay and lesbian in the 1980’s.

In fact, the Unitarian Universalist Society of Amherst was one of those congregations. When my life partner and I  moved here from New Jersey in 1988, knowing the pioneer valley was a progressive area, we were not surprised to see that the UUSA was hosting a lesbian dance.  The first  time we entered the welcoming doors of the Unitarian Universalist Society of Amherst was to attend that dance.
It wasn’t until years later when we were seeking connection to a faith community that we became active members of the UUSA congregation. Now, some twenty years later, I am moved to tears when I recount how the loving congregation of UUSA has embraced our family.  From the first Sunday service we attended where we received a heartfelt greeting from an older couple wanting us to know we were welcome, we knew we were family.  Our family at the Unitarian Universalism Society of Amherst has embraced us through coming out, fostering a child, adopting a child, getting married and has blessed us with amazing friends who share our daily joys and concerns.
The open arms of Unitarian Universalism drew me to the faith from the start. My UU identity calls me to embody the concept universal love and explore ways to bring joy, hope and justice to the world. I am grateful to have a spiritual home where I feel I belong and that moves me to welcome others.