» By RAVEN JACKSON – firstname.lastname@example.org
As the end of the year draws near, it is hard not to see the red, green and gold lights hung around the city. These lights and many other decorations such as pine trees and mistletoes represent Christmas. But not everyone celebrates this holiday, at least not in the traditional sense.
Inside the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Clarksville, located off Madison Street and surrounded by the green of trees, one will find a place where it is not required to adhere to a particular religion.
According to their website, members of the UUFC include Agnostics, Atheists, Buddhists, Christians, Humanists and Wiccans among other religious traditions.
“What’s important to me is to tell the stories that have already been told and to put them in a modern context so that we know from where they came,” said Stan Bumgarner, a part-time minister at the church.
Wasau, a woman of Indian descent who regularly attends the UUFC, celebrates the holidays with those closest to her. “In the wintertime, you have gatherings where your family and friends come and spend time together. You might make all your preserves, dry the rest of the meat that hasn’t been dried, do the last of the hunting for the year, the last of the smoking of the fish and hang out with each other,” Wasau said.
A common thread found within UUFC is everyone’s openness concerning religion.
“There are different celebrations and different ways to celebrate, but the most important thing is giving of yourself and feeling that sense of community and that you’re connecting with other people,” said Shana Thornton, director of Religious Exploration at the UUFC.
Lee Gray, a member who grew up Catholic, celebrates in her own way. Gray’s upcoming plans for the holiday are to put up a Christmas tree with her partner, and hang guitar strings and cards between two rooms in her home for decoration. Gray also plans to sing Christmas carols with a xylophone in her neighborhood and the church.
“I have my own rituals,” Gray said. “I try to give all year long. I strive to do the best I can in my community.” She doesn’t think of Christmas and Thanksgiving as a time of giving because she does it all the time.
“For me personally, the story of Jesus being born the last month of the year, near the winter solstice, is a message to mankind in a broken world, that it will get better,” Bumgarner said through the laughs of children playing behind him. “It’s in the process of getting better. And that’s what we all need to have, hope,” Bumgarner said.
For more information on the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Clarksville, visit www.uuclarksville.org or call 931-368-0507. TAS