Joan August

Joan August

This is the story of my journey to this moment in time. I was born in Chicago in 1932 to a Jewish mother and Christian father. I don’t recall the word God, or religion, ever being mentioned during my childhood. However, my home was filled with values steeped in love, honesty and patriotism.

Our large extended family celebrated both Jewish and Christian holidays.

I attended a predominately Jewish high school, Christian College, married and divorced a Jewish man, and received a Masters from a Catholic college. My former husband was very prominent in Jewish circles in Michigan so I felt a need to find a new community of my own.

In 1969 I recalled that my parents had joined a Unitarian Church in Chicago in 1960. I had no idea what that meant but felt it had be something of interest.

I discovered the Unitarian Universalist Church in Detroit and raised my three children in their RE program. Subsequently my 44-year-old son, in Georgia, chose to become a born again fundamentalist Christian (who prays for my soul). My 42-year-old son in Erie is married to a Catholic woman and my 42-year-old daughter in L.A. is so Jewish that she earned a Masters in Jewish studies and is employed in that field.

I moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1976 and joined the 750 member congregation in that area. In 2003 my middle son and his family encouraged me to move to Erie. I was hesitant at first as I thoroughly enjoyed my life in Michigan. My daughter-in-law convinced me as she said there was the Erie Playhouse Community Theater, and best of all, a Unitarian Universalist congregation.

I live in a senior residence on the west side of Erie, with wonderful religiously conservative friends. I am somewhat guarded in expressing my religious views among them. Once, several months ago, I mentioned to a small gathering that I was a humanist and didn’t believe in the miracle of Jesus. They looked at me in disbelief until one woman said, “But the Bible says that Jesus is the Lord.”

My residence is my home but this church is my comfort zone. I can express myself freely and debate a mix of ideas and thoughts on any subject.

I find great pleasure in our minister, Steve Ashmann, as he is so thorough in researching and expressing his ideas in his new adventure with us.

Lastly, to honor my Unitarian parents, an artist melted down their wedding bands and created the gold chalice necklace I wear at all times.

In conclusion, I am grateful that I am able to support the work of this congregation.

Leigh Kostis

Why I am a UU

I was raised a Christian and was not disgruntled or unhappy during my Christian years; however, I was always questioning the main tenants of the faith. Gradually my questions led to my rejection of a “one answer fits all” approach to religion. I believe that everyone has the right to explore faith issues and come to a personal understanding of belief, or non-belief. While this exploration can be done individually, I believe that it is best done in a caring community that supports and encourages questioning. Unitarian Universalism has definitely filled this desire for community for me. I have been able to seek answers, share my exploration, and change my mind often over time. During my 30 years at the UU Congregation of Erie I have found a community that not only explores religious questions, but works to put “faith in action” by supporting programs of social justice. The people of this community have become my “soft place to fall” when times are tough, as well as the people I celebrate with during the joyous times of life. I was blessed to raise my son at the UUCE, and hope to have my grandson here in the future. Our seven UU principles, as well as our vision, mission and covenant statements, guide my relationships and actions in the world. I am grateful for and proud of our liberal religious faith and the role it takes in my life.