Edited by John Daubney
The benefits of service go far beyond whatever volunteer service we may be engaged in. We are made to love each other and in our loving service we become more of who God created us to be. The rewards are immeasurable and through her service at Unity Elaine has been richly rewarded.
Unity first attracted me in about 2004, 2005ish when I came to the church for other regular events. I saw the beautiful posters on the bulletin boards which featured very interesting-looking classes, book clubs, meditation, etc., but I wasn’t ready yet. I had a lot on my plate and a lot of growing to do. Fast forward to about 2012. I came to Unity services for the first time. I fell in love with what was, at that time, called the Cowabunga Band and the vibrant energy of the service. Ginger Hannah happened to be sitting next to me and she invited me downstairs for fellowship and snacks. I knew I had found my spiritual home, and I knew I’d be coming back regularly.
Ginger is certainly one who modeled service for me by being welcoming and warm right from the first time I sat down in a Unity pew. Another is John Frederick. I first got to know John through him sharing his story at my Unity 101 membership class, and I admired his embodiment of “practical” Christianity. Others are Deb Burger, who nominated me to run for my current board position, Deb Foss, Rev. Roger Mock, Rev. Jim Fuller, Dottie Frament and Cheri Warren all inspired me with their spiritual nature and ability to walk their talks – to live as best as they can according to their spiritual beliefs.
My first “official” service job was to help out with the going away party for Reverend Jim. I posted a picture of myself on Facebook stating that now I was an official “church lady.” I mimicked the face of the popular Saturday Night Live character when she said “Isn’t that special?” I was being a goof, but it really was special. I got to flex my event planning and implementation muscles with an awesome team of strong, spiritual women. I also have been commandeering the kitchen on Thanksgiving, and for the third year in a row, I will “spatchcock” the turkey. I love working with those who step up and show up to make that event a success. I also hosted an event called: “Not Your Grandmother’s Listening Party: Spirituality through Hard Rock and Heavy Music,” where I selected tracks from some bands that are not known as Christian or spiritual, and played recordings of them for attendees. I printed out lyrics sheets, gave a little talk about why each song spoke to me spiritually, offered time after each song to share and then took requests for others’ songs that spoke to them as well.
When I was asked to serve as a member of the Board of Trustees, I wasn’t sure if it was the right time for me. I got feedback from other Unity Albany members that the board could use some of the skills and expertise I possess from my work experiences. It has been a tremendous learning experience to apply Unity principles to the business of running a church, and is a good “laboratory” of sorts in which to practice walking my own talk in daily and secular activities.
I was told many times over a number of years that if I want to get out of my monkey mind, or self-pitying thought patterns the best thing to do is to help someone else. When I finally tried this, it worked. Service at Unity for me is a way to help myself through abundant giving. I want to see this church and our congregants receive abundance and prosper as well. Counterintuitively, we manifest this by giving of ourselves, not by acquiring or conserving, and in giving of ourselves, the returns are plentiful, manifold and many times the blessings are completely unexpected. I believe this with my whole heart and see it in many aspects of my life, serving both for Unity and elsewhere.
Service provides many opportunities and benefits for the individual who takes on a service responsibility. That commitment provides a safe space or safe activity in which to practice your spiritual values. This helps when we need to practice our values in the secular world. A volunteer or service position can also be a safe place to further develop other sorts of under-used skills and strengths that may be present in ourselves, and can then be applied to outside activities like our jobs or other responsibilities. So, we get the chance to improve and grow in a useful, applied, safe manner, and in the meantime the Unity community also receives the blessing of our endeavors. It’s a win-win!