Barb Oehlke

Time was closing in on my husband Roger and I. Rog’s parents, my folks, and many other family and friends were arriving for the baptism of our baby, Quinn. Arrangements with our Methodist minister friend had been made with Rog’s request to write the service. Two days before the baptism, we got a call from the minister saying he couldn’t perform the service because it wasn’t a traditional Christian service. In other words, it wasn’t Christian enough.

Rog thanked him and we decided to find someone else, …but who? 

At this time, in 1970, Rog was counseling conscientious objectors. He was sharing his dilemma with a fellow counselor, Vern Bennett, who just happened to be the Interim Minister at the UU Church. Vern then explained though the Unitarian Universalists don’t baptize their babies, they dedicate them; and that there was a silver candy dish he could fill with water and perform the service, as written by Rog. So that’s what we did.

It was lovely. We met in the narthex, Vern in his black robe and blue jeans and a group of people eager to hear Rog’s words. It was personal and moving, written by an adoring father. The offending words were borrowed from Kahlil Gibran:

“Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself…
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow…”

From then on, we started attending the Unitarian Universalist Church, and we raised our three children Unitarian. However, our decision to join the church? That’s another story.