Keeper of the Flame: Randy Schisler
This article series continues the Keeper of the Flame tradition started by retired president Lee Elliott Carnes. The questions are posed by Piedmont UU Church President of the Board of Trustees, Jim Price, and the answers are provided by leaders and visionaries in our church community.
1) What brought you to the Unitarian Universalist Church?
When we moved to North Carolina, we started looking for a church to fit our family. I’d been raised Nazarene, and we’d moved around the country enough that we’d never had a church to truly call home. We tried out several churches in the area, but didn’t find the right fit. One Sunday, we literally walked out of a church when the pastor started talking about homosexuality as a sin; clearly, we were not in our place. We wanted a liberal church, one that would teach our children to value diversity, not just of race and culture, but of opinion, of sexual orientation, and of the spirit. One night after several failed attempts to find the right fit, we googled “liberal open-minded church” and came across UU. It looked like a good fit. Our first visit was an outing at Frank Liske park, not exactly a typical service. After that first visit, we were hooked, and we have been members ever since.
2) Where do you see opportunity for improvement and how would you accomplish the improvement if you could do so?
I think we are a “welcoming congregation”, but at times still need to make sure our attitude matches this title. I think there are members who have been with the church for some time who still wonder if they’re truly welcome and accepted. I also think that finances are an ongoing area that many churches, including ours, continue to struggle with. Improvements to both are hard, and likely outside of the scope of this article to truly tackle.
3) What do you love most about our church?
“We have questions for all your answers” is a tagline that’s always resonated with me. I think what I love most is that absolutely anyone of any race, religion, belief system, sexual orientation, gender identity, or other factors can come and worship freely. I love that this diversity isn’t simply tolerated, but esteemed. I love that the pastor’s message tends to be more self-reflection and a “think about this with me” approach, instead of telling the congregation exactly what they need to be doing. This kind of openness is not something I’ve found previously, but now that I’ve found it, I could not be part of a group that was otherwise.