I was born in Michigan in 1960. One of my earliest religious experiences was seeing the Beatles at age six. The transformative power of music continues to inspire me. When I was seven, my Presbyterian Sunday school class sponsored an orphan in India. This taught me that actions speak louder than words when it comes to matters of faith. My mother, who was very active in the church, died when I was fifteen. Around that time, my faith grew more conservative and I started considering a career in the ministry. While earning my BA degree in Psychology at Alma College in Michigan, I was influenced by religion professors and chaplains that encouraged a more thoughtful Christianity which was more about loving your neighbor than judging them. I earned a Master of Social Work degree from Loyola University of Chicago in 1987 and Master of Divinity degree from McCormick in 1988
While at seminary I became a Unitarian, deciding that the humble teachings of Jesus were more helpful than the Church's teachings about Jesus which exalted him to the position of Christ. I became a Universalist when I could no longer believe that a loving God could have created Hell. I joined 1st Unitarian Church of Chicago in 1988. I now consider myself a Transcendentalist along the lines of 19th century Unitarians Emerson, Thoreau, and Margaret Fuller. Each person has divinity within themselves that connects them with the divinity that can be found in nature, science and world religions.
In 1988, I married Gail and helped raise her two children, Jon and Devon. A son, Benjamin, was born to us in 1992. As an interracial couple, we have worked to further reconciliation among all people. Gail is a talented vocalist and I write music on guitar and mountain dulcimer. We enjoy singing together and have performed professionally.
Before becoming a UU minister in 1995, I worked with hospice and the A.I.D.S. Resource Center of Wisconsin. I have been active in advocating for the rights of sexual minorities and have officiated at gay and lesbian union ceremonies. I served The Sugarloaf Congregation of Unitarian Universalists in Maryland from 1996 to 2000 and the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Winston-Salem from 2000-2010.
My theology and my concept of ministry is about connection. Congregational life is about the spiritual quest discovering the links between oneself and that which is beyond oneself. This interdependence of being is present in all situations. My ministry seeks to increase awareness of the holy relationships that give life meaning. Ministry is the responsibility of the entire Unitarian Universalist congregation. It is how we serve each other and our community. Each person is a minister called to action by their own best understanding. Clergy, as professional ministers, are to facilitate the ministry of the congregation. A clergy person is a weaver of the interdependent web, helping people make connections to themselves, to others, to community, and to the transcendent wonder of life.
Sunday morning services are the primary ministry of the church. The word “worship” comes from old English and means to shape worth. During the Sunday services we form understanding. We shape and are shaped by things of worth. The services need to contain a wide variety of sources. Some of my sermons will use God language, others will not. Whichever of the world’s spiritual languages we understand, our Unitarian Universalist faith compels us to be humble enough to listen for truth in different languages. I do not see my sermons as answers but as questions, pebbles thrown into the pond creating ripples. Both the rock and the water are changed by the process. This is why I often include discussion as part of the worship service. My words are not the only ones heard..
Further connections are made in the committees of the church. They are a continuation of the worship experience. Our caring is put into action. The Social Action committee is not the only committee that puts faith into action. The Youth Services committee shares wisdom with our children. Finance committees express our values of sharing. The Building committee helps create a special place for fellowship. Preparing coffee hour is the holy nurturing of community. All of this is the ministry of the church. The committees are democracy in action. They act out the vision created by the board and the minister which in turn are guided by the voices of the members. Together we form an inclusive supportive community
With Gratitude & Hope,
Rev. Charlie Davis