ABOUT XOLANI

 

As a Unitarian Universalist, I dream big. I think big. As an example, consider the following:

 

If I were to wave a magic wand, I'd create a world where all people could live out thier faith commitments with freedom and joy. We'd live in communities not only of like-minded people, but of people with diverse ideas, spiritual practices, and in pursuit of universal values and principles that allow people to thrive and reach their full potential. Humanists would live side-by-side with theists, Buddhists with Taoists, Christians with non-believers, and on and on. I'd create a community using the UU Principles and Purposes not just ideals, but as a true reality.

 

As your parish minister, my goal would be to inspire you to cast your vision of the beloved community that you wish to create. I'd want to partner with you to discover how we could bring our visions together. Then, we'd conspire to plan and determine the action steps to make the magic come alive.

 

Yet, I realize that life is complicated. Plans don't always unfold as we hope for or expect. That is when opportunity often knocks on the door. Such opportunities led me to our shared Unitarian Universalist faith.

 

 

My religious heritage is mixed. My father (deceased) was atheist/humanist. My mother, 94, is a devout Christian in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. My grandparents were all Baptist.

 

This mixed background has affected me greatly. It has enabled me to be intellectually and theologically honest, and thereby, rigorously test the ontological claims I was taught during my early life. Doubt holds a prominent place in my life, and probably yours. It forces us to examine the hand-me-down assumptions that can serve as a cancerous plague in our minds and worldviews.

 

Importantly, my epistemological center has shifted over time and continues to evolve. What I hold as truth claims is open to new revelations, examination, and further refinement. My theological legacy from my forebears has enabled me to see the poles of religious experience and the dynamic center. As your minister, I'd support you wherever find yourself on the spiritual spectrum.

 

 

I discovered Unitarian Universalism when I was serving as a hospice chaplain. One of my patients was a UU. She invited me to visit her at her home to discuss her faith, but cautioned me that she wasn’t sure about the “God thing.” She said that she was an agnostic, but was open to explore more. I appreciated her candor. We had a lovely visit and while I was there, I noticed a newsletter from First Unitarian of Dallas on her coffee table. When I scanned through it, I noted how many interesting activities were occurring there. Later, as I was working in the church’s neighborhood, I drove by and realized it was there. A month or so later, I attended and was immediately at home.

 

Since that time, Unitarian Universalism has been a central part of much of my life: going through marriage, divorce, and remarriage, my ordination and fellowship, endorsement by the UUA for my military chaplaincy, and my move to Durham, NC.  Unitarian Universalism has given me a new lease on life, and Unitarian Universalist mentors and friends have walked side-by-side with me through personal growth and evolution of all kinds.

 

 

As a minister, I have seen this experience replicated in the lives of many parishioners - at its best, Unitarian Universalism gives you the opportunity to companion others and to be companioned when you need it, as we each learn and grow. As the Transylvanian Unitarian minister Rev. Francis David is credited with saying, “We need not think alike to love alike.”  We Unitarian Universalists may not have any one agreed upon credo, but we do agree to care for one another and support each other on life’s journey.

 

I was raised to believe in the importance of family, and my wife Tamara, and our extended families are deeply important and meaningful parts of my life. Tamara and I have a healthy, genuinely supportive marriage. We love being a family, and we make time to do things together as a family. We take some measure of pride in recognizing that we are helping model a loving couple to parishioners and friends. It is one way that we live out Unitarian Universalist values. As you get to know us, I hope that find everything that you've read here to be true.