UUs to hear about paganism as a source


By Pauline Benetti

Special to The PREVIEW

Unitarian Universalism (UU), a church with no creed; hence, a church in perennial debate on a number of issues: Are we a denomination or an association of independent congregations? Do we gather in churches or meeting halls? Do we worship? And, the list goes on.

Amazing, then, that in 1984, congregational representatives at the National Association adopted nearly unanimously seven principles as guideposts and five sources as traditions from which we draw our teachings. These have lasted virtually unchanged since then except for the addition in 1995 of the sixth tradition of earth-centered religions, as follows: spiritual teachings of earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature. That addition testifies to the evolving and “living tradition” that is UUism and is the topic of Sunday’s service.

Michael Demchak, a Unitarian Universalist lay leader and ordained minister, will speak to one aspect of the earth-centered tradition — paganism and Beltane. Beltane is an ancient Gaelic May Day festival that celebrates the fertility of spring. Considered an important pagan holiday, also known as a sabbat, it is still observed by neopagans today, typically on May 1. Celebrating the return of spring and all of life that flourishes with it, Beltane is a kickoff for the greening of the earth, and the warm days of summer ahead.

Demchak will review the history of this holiday, as well as its symbols, customs and rituals and will share what this time of year means to him spiritually.

Demchak was raised with a Unitarian Universalist background for most of his childhood in Connecticut. He moved to Denver with his family in 1976 and began attending the Mile High Church of Religious Science. He studied computer science at Metropolitan State College, but pursued other careers, including pharmacy technician, accounting and facilities management.

In 2006, Demchak helped facilitate a weekly intentional dance with live musicians and a spiritual emphasis. In 2007, he became active in a pagan meet-up group and helped it grow into Living Earth Church, where he co-created many circles and events as a Pagan priest. He also created and was the music director of Beltania, an annual pagan music festival, from 2009-2011.

Demchak has been an ordained minister since 2008 and has officiated several weddings and handfastings. He enjoys camping, four-wheeling, skating, music, reading, photography and nature. He now lives in Pagosa Springs with his daughter, Katie, and is a member of the Pagosa Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.

Ours is a welcoming congregation; we invite everyone to share in our faith community. Usually, leadership is by Pastor Dean Cerny on third and fourth Sundays; however, this Sunday a lay leader will preside. The Religious Exploration program for 2- to 9-year-olds continues in May on May 19 and 26. For more information, contact Anna Ramirez at afrancis_@hotmail.com.

Find us in Unit B-15 of the Greenbriar Plaza. From North Pagosa Boulevard, turn right onto Park Avenue and right again into Greenbriar Plaza, then turn left and continue around the complex until you see the Unitarian Universalist sign as it faces the mountains. Join us. For further information about the Pagosa Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, visit pagosauu.org or call 731-7900.