Sometimes it feels like the best-kept secret in our denomination: Unitarian Universalists have served and do serve in the military. In recent recognition of this, the UUA has made strides towards welcoming military and veterans into our congregations. In 2010, the UUA issued a Statement of Conscience entitled “Creating Peace” in which they declare:
“We bear witness to the right of individuals and nations to defend themselves, and acknowledge our responsibility to be in solidarity with others in countering aggression…We affirm a range of individual choices, including military service and conscientious objection…as fully compatible with Unitarian Universalism. For those among us who make a formal commitment to military service, we will honor their commitment, welcome them home, and offer pastoral support.”
Regardless, UUs on active duty face challenges. Although there are now more than a dozen UU chaplains across all the branches of the US services, UU chaplains make up a tiny percentage of the chaplain corps. Because of this, UU military members may have difficulty finding religious supports that reflect their progressive values. The challenges may continue when UUs come home; Veterans may feel isolated and wonder how they will be welcomed back to their churches.
That’s where the CLF Military Ministry comes in. We aim to provide spiritual supports to service members and their families during active duty and when they come home.
In addition, we fully affirm people openly serving in the military and have been a leader in pressing for the rights of this community in the military. OutServe-SLDN offers excellent resources and advocacy work for GLBTQAI+ veterans and their families.
If you are a military member, veteran, or have military members in your family and are in need of immediate support, contact Bob LaVallee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- If you are separated from your loved ones, watching worship at the same time can be a good way to connect during your time away.
- Bless All Who Serve: Sources of Hope, Courage and Faith for Military Personnel and Their Families (edited by Matthew Tittle and Gail Tittle) — A pocket-sized and durable little book of readings and songs from many faith traditions, ancient and modern, plus reflections by veterans and military chaplains. Speaks to themes of commitment, courage, patriotism, freedom, strength and service. Reflection topics include fear of injury and death, grief, peace and violence, hope and despair, separation from loved ones and honoring the fallen. Available FREE to those in the military, chaplains and ministers. Contact Beth Murray for a copy.
- Maintain Spiritual Fitness While Deployed: This website has a great checklist on what you and your leaders can do to hone spirituality while deployed.
- We can provide assistance with forming small fellowship groups for worship or spiritual formation. Contact Bob LaVallee at email@example.com for more information.
- Recommended reading: War and the Soul: Healing Our Nation’s Veterans from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder by Edward Tick (Amazon affiliate link)
After Deployment or Adjusting to Civilian Life as a Veteran
- How has your spirituality changed after deployment? Check out this handy tool to assess where you are at spiritually.
- Soldier’s Heart is an organization that conducts free retreats for veterans. They also have conference call meeting groups for men and women that you can join now. They are open to veterans from all eras of service. Contact Chris Antal for more information.
- Honoring the Path of the Warrior also conducts retreats at no cost to veterans and is specifically a meditative practice. They focus on veterans and military members since 9/11, and have yearly women’s only retreats.
- Recommended reading: Warrior’s Return: Restoring the Soul after War by Edward Tick.
Connect with other veterans and their stories by reading the articles they’ve written about military service, family life, spirituality, and more!
Read Dave’s Veteran’s Day blog post, Duty and Service »
Lt. Seanan Holland
A Unitarian Universalist minister and Navy chaplain, Seanan recently returned from a deployment in Afghanistan. He served as an intern with the CLF. Read Seanan’s posts » and View Seanan’s Homecoming »
Margaret is the Ministerial Intern at First Parish of Watertown, Unitarian Universalist. A former counselor, she lives north of Boston with her wife, Susan, and two rescue dogs. Read Margaret’s posts »
Rev. Chris J. Antal
Chris is a Community Minister with the Church of the Larger Fellowship. He is married with five children and his family resides in the Hudson Valley of New York. Read Chris’ posts »
Recent Military Posts
In addition to our worship services and social media, military members, veterans and their families can connect on our Military Ministries Facebook group. Note: membership is limited to these specific groups. If you aren’t on Facebook, contact us to see if there are others ways you can connect with the community.