1036 Solana Drive, Solana Beach
Membership: 247 adults; 100 children
Leader: Reverend David Miller
Born: Chicago, Ill.
Formation: Claremont School of Theology, Claremont, Calif.
Years Ordained: 2
San Diego Reader: How long do you spend writing your sermon?
Reverend David Miller: I usually start most of the day on Friday and part of the day on Saturday. We have adopted a theologically themed three-year calendar…which explores the major themes in religious life: forgiveness, evil, love, salvation, and so on…. Because we draw our sources as Unitarian Universalists from a variety of writings, I think of the message I try to convey and then try to find sources that help to support the message in the context of my personal inspiration.
SDR: What are your go-to sources?
RD: I don’t really have go-to sources. I draw from a wide variety of things. It could be books from seminary or recent things. One book I’ve recently used is The House of Hope: The Promise of Progressive Religion for the 21st Century, by John Buehrens and Rebecca Ann Parker. I’ll also go to the Bible and the New Testament; and I’ve used material from, say, the writings of Bishop Desmond Tutu.
SDR: What is the mission of your church?
RD: Our local congregation has been embarking on a strategic visioning process. We’re using a book called Holy Conversations: Talking About God in Everyday Life, by Richard Peace. There are three main questions that are asked in that book. Who are we? What are we called to do? Who is our neighbor? We’re trying to determine what our role is to one another and to our community as we move forward in the 21st Century.
SDR: Where do you go when you die?
RD: Based on our philosophy and theology of religious education and exploration, those kinds of decisions you have to make up based on your own experience and your own exploration. With this communal journey we make together in exploring the meaning of life and death, because we are not a faith that has dogma about these things, I would never presume to tell anyone what happens to them when they die. I have my own beliefs about life and death, but my job is to help them explore their own beliefs and not feed them information about that. People have to make their own decisions about their beliefs about what happens after death. In our congregation, what people believe happens after death runs the gamut from nothing to rebirth to reincarnation to heaven. That’s part of who we are as Unitarian Universalists.
SDR: What’s your own sense of what happens on the other side of the grave?
RD: I think there are so many forces in this world that we work hard to understand and may never understand. My personal work is about living in the mystery of it all. I find comfort and beauty in that mystery. We work so hard for definition, and sometimes things are difficult to define, but the beauty of individual or collective descriptions of life, death, and existence are part of the beauty of life itself. I believe we certainly live on in those who’ve touched our lives, but I don’t have a big need to define it past that.