Get To Know Piedmont UU Church Members

Bob V. has been a member attending the Salisbury Gathering almost from its beginning ten years ago. He has been actively involved for many years with planning and carrying out Sunday services. He and his wife Linda have also been an important part of the gathering’s music program.  Linda, a retired Lutheran minister, is also active at the Salisbury Gathering, but is not a Piedmont UU  Church member. She has always been strongly supportive of Bob and his membership at the church.

Like many members of our Unitarian Universalist congregation, Bob’s life journey has been remarkable and he has undergone significant changes.

Bob shared this information about himself and his journey:

Now retired, I have had successive careers as a geneticist/evolutionary and molecular biologist (28 years), Evangelical Lutheran Church in America pastor (5 years) and college professor (13 years). I have chronicled my journey from fundamentalistic, conservative, Missouri-Synod Lutheranism to naturalism in an autobiographical book entitled Understanding My Life Backwards: Finding Authentic Faith Through Informed Reasoning (Lulu Publishing).

By “naturalism” I mean that everything that exists has arisen and continues to unfold because of forces and capacities that are inherent within nature. Although there remains much that is still mystery and not understood about the natural world, there is nothing supernatural that is acting within or upon nature. Starting with “The Big Bang,” natural forces and capacities have engendered and accrued ever-increasing complexity, first in the physical world and eventually giving rise to the biological world. Within the biological world, simple life originated about 4.5 billion years ago. The evolutionary process then gave rise to Homo sapiens (meaning “wise man”), which, while not always living up to its name, appears to us humans to have the most highly developed and complex memory and reasoning capacities.

The religious phrase, “Having seen the light, I can no longer walk in the darkness” now describes me. My “mission in life” is now to invite and then to walk with others from the darkness of the traditional religious myths of ancient worldviews into the light of the modern world, in which reason informed by scientific understanding provides the guiding principles and practices for fulfilled living.

Bob was drawn to Unitarian Universalism and the Salisbury Gathering because he saw that UU’s understood the process described above.  He appreciated their commonality and took the step of joining at the Salisbury Gathering, where he has been a valuable member.

Fellow Piedmont UU Church member and Salisbury Gathering attendee Beth Foreman described Bob’s value to the congregation:

There were many times Bob jumped in to lead a service or be the service assistant. I especially remember the series he facilitated on our Principles. We all left each week with a much better understanding and a renewed sense of belonging as UU’s. Then there are the times he boosted our music and set up the sound system. And we remember the weeks he offered to lead sermon discussions after services. There was much sharing of perspectives at those times. Bob has served on many PUUC teams and committees including the first team to organize The Healthy Congregation team, the endowment committee, and the Salisbury Steering team. His thoughtful, measured and steady presence is a gift to us. Bet you didn’t know that Bob and two other Rowan County residents were the litigants for a change to prayers offered by Rowan County Commissioners at their meetings!  And they won the case. He endured a negative, unpleasant kickback from many Rowan Countians. Bob embodies the Salisbury spirit and activism.    

—Anne L.