UU Women's Connection

Church Life at Prairie UU

It is always so fulfilling and revealing when the Connection Council visits various congregations at quarterly meeting time. It is also one of the lures for me to volunteer with the Connection.

On a weekend visit to the smallish and third congregation in the Madison area I am full of admiration. Madison, bastion of forward thinking, mostly liberal politics supports the largest congregation in the UUA, I am told. That would be First UU Society, the famous Frank Lloyd Wright designed meeting house has close to 2000 members. (Unofficial guess)

We wanted to visit Prairie, though, because an established connection and welcoming attitude. I met Dorothy and took a liking to her at 2009's District Assembly when we both served as volunteers on the media team. (Another edge pusher for me.) Thanks to Dorothy and other members, we had the Prairie experience of genuine hospitality in this little but mighty congregation.

I must say I am so impressed with this little fellowship. Though they have been established for around 50 years their membership stands around 100. They have a consulting minister who with members decide together what worship, programs and facility looks like. The front lawn aptly showed late spring growth of prairie grasses and flowers, the kitchen sported recycle bins and neatly named drawers and cabinet doors, the RE area brightly colored banners, drawings of what it meant to be UU. Age group rooms were oddly familiar as others I had seen but with a special twist only an active, live RE program can express.

Wanting to try the special flavors of Madison with a trip to the Saturday morning farmer's market that circles the Capitol building and demands one way traffic, we opted to meet for business after lunch down town on Saturday. It's okay. We were given a key to the church. Plenty of time for wandering and adventuring: bicycle lanes and respect everywhere...Organic this and that...bakers and makers of every kind of earth mother treat in the market and craft booths on perimeter.

Connection Business meeting completed with preparation for a Margaret Fuller Conversation with the women of Prairie in the evening. We had time to catch the Saturday afternoon service at First Society, a flower communion. Then a quick "look see" at the congregation's new digs. It is a beautiful and green and is so "Wright-looking" in compliment to the Frank Lloyd Wright meeting house design.

Saturday evening had us back at Prairie for a Margaret Fuller conversation salon on the eve of the anniversary of fore mother, Margaret Fuller's, 200th birth. Sunday morning we joined the congregation for service, a special speaker, Margaret Fuller, aka Robin Proud, who compared concerns and joys of both Margaret's time and ours with the use of actual Fuller quotes and some from the UU World about issues still concerning us 200 years later.

Prairie is so blessed with not only theatrical talent, but musical talent as well. A new song, inspired by Margaret Fuller's words, had people in the congregation humming along with the intro, even though they had never heard it before. My mouth dropped as UU hymns were sung out in a place dedicated to its music programs. Congregational hymns were sung in a way that didn't seem to matter if one hit a sour note once in a while. (BTW: I didn't hear one off note!) Discussion after the speaker was full of questions about Margaret Fuller, her life and work, and then came Joys and Concerns. The microphone was handed off to one person after another, with good humored jousting and serious questions and even tears -- a sure sign of loving acceptance, a place where one finds one's friends.