Exploring and Encouraging a Healthy Life Marked with Joy

Universally Speaking


The good folks at the Statesboro Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (especially the Pastoral Care Associate–Shari Barr and the Minister–Reverend Dr. Jane Altman Page) up the road in my old stomping ground of Statesboro, Georgia, where I taught at Georgia Southern University for twenty-plus years, invited me to deliver the message at last Sunday’s service.  What fun!  What joy!

I’ve visited a UU fellowship a time or two before, but had not really looked into their beliefs.  It seems they hold seven principles to be guidance:

  • 1st Principle:  The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
  • 2nd Principle:  Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
  • 3rd Principle:  Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
  • 4th Principle:  A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
  • 5th Principle:  The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
  • 6th Principle:  The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
  • 7th Principle:  Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.


Wow!  All beliefs I hold as important in life.

I arrived a bit early and took pics outside their building.







Once inside, Shari met me and explained the order of the service.




And here I am with the Rev. Jane (who I knew for years as a colleague at Georgia Southern).


Before the service I reconnected with old friends, such as Donna Jones, an officemate of mine in the English Department for years at GSU:



My talk entitled “Becoming a Balcony People,” about the importance and power of encouragement, went over SO well with the group, mainly because of the attentive folks in attendance.


(Okay, I know I look a little goofy in that picture.)

What are Balcony People, you ask?  Here’s a brief excerpt from my message:

I submit for your consideration this morning the very simplistic notion that there exist two kinds of people: Balcony People and Basement People.  Balcony People are the folks you come in contact with who encourage you, bless you, give of themselves in some way.  They climb the steps up into your balcony, so to speak, lean over the railing, and yell, “You’re doing great!”  “Keep going!”  “I appreciate you so much.”  “You help make my life better.” “I love you.”  “No, your butt’s not too big.  Really!” 

But in addition to Balcony People, there’s a second category of folks, Basement People.  Basement People go down the steps of your basement, where it’s Dark and Damp and Depressing … and then try to pull you down with them!  They wound with words, or the absence of words.  They harm and cause damage.  They verbally vandalize.


I love the UU symbol:



May we all allow our true inner lights of goodness and joy to shine forth.


Thank you, Statesboro UU.  May all good continue to flow to you!


Link for full transcript.

Another cool link about the importance of smiling.

Go UU folks!

Comments on: "Universally Speaking" (7)

  1. Wonderful, thank you for sharing

  2. Shari Barr said:

    Thanks, Neal, for your visit and for describing it here. I enjoyed your inspirational message and it felt really nice to read here your impressions of us. Come again any time! love, Shari

    • Hi Shari! So good to hear from you. I LOVED being with you and the other Statesboro UU-ers last Sunday. I felt right at home. I would love to visit again one of these days. And I’m so glad Rick’s knee replacement was a success. May he recover fully, quickly!

      Please say hello on the blog from time to time.

  3. June Dean said:

    As a Unitarian Universalist, I am happy to see you posting the positive aspects of our beliefs. They are a way of life and it appears you live them daily. (Met you at Fort Morris in last winter — Coexist on car)

  4. Mary G. Freeman said:

    Thanks to Margaret Brockland-Nease for sending this posting. These days, Rev. Jane Page also serves as part-time minister for UU of Coastal Georgia in Brunswick! We love her joyful spirit!

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