This I Believe

Welcome to the This I Believe web page and archive!

Thanks to a diligent team of volunteer members and staff, you now have access to dozens of talks delivered from the mid-1960′s to the present. There are more to be located and new talks will be added continuously to the archive.

This beautiful preservation of our living history offers the latest opportunity to share what we value about our faith and our spiritual community. Take some time to read, reflect, and discover how our unique and common experiences have led us to this particular spiritual community over the decades.

We’re sure you’ll be moved by the wealth of insight and wisdom housed in this archive.


It is a longstanding practice here to invite members of the congregation to share with us their journeys of faith. It is a rare opportunity for us, to be given this glimpse not of opinions and ideas and knowledge – but of wisdom, and doubt mingled in with the faith, and questions circling the answers, and convictions hard-won and wonder still emerging. This I Believe is a hard assignment; we ask of these speakers that they speak the truth as bravely as they can, that they tell us a story, that they model for us this essential spiritual work: making a narrative out of all your experience, making meaning out of the days we are given.

The presenters are charged with speaking to us as openly as they can, and we in turn are charged to listen as openly as we can. This circuit of speaking and hearing is important because religious life unfolds in community. There is the solitary journey of the soul on its own, and there is the return to the circle of companions who will hold our story as sacred (and ordinary), companions who both embrace us and challenge us to deeper growth. (That’s your job at coffee hour – to challenge and embrace our two speakers, in love and gratitude).

Victoria Safford


This I Belive: Louise Pardee (2011)

Posted by on Jul 31, 2011 in This I Believe | 0 comments

HOW DID I GET HERE? How did I get HERE? It does seem like a strange place for someone brought up as an evangelical Christian and who spent half of her life as a Presbyterian. Last April, I signed the Membership Book. The ink was barely dry when an old friend, Laurie Kigner, called and asked if I would be a summer speaker. I happily accepted. How DID I get here? There is no brief answer. It involves a process of change in thinking throughout my life, affected by family, church, friends, books, music, politics, and then a fateful fall, which...

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This I Believe: Klay Eckles (2011)

Posted by on May 22, 2011 in This I Believe | 0 comments

I Believe in the Four Leaf Clover I was with the kids in the backyard playing kick ball. My daughter fell down in the grass, and quickly proclaimed, “Hey a 4 leaf clover.” I was excited, having never successfully found one. As I was trying to explain the rarity and good fortune of finding one, my son spits out, “Hey here’s another one!” After 10 minutes on my knees I gave up in frustration and returned to the life lesson about how lucky they were to find these. So months later when I rediscovered the preserved clovers in a counter...

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This I Believe: Jane Bacon (2011)

Posted by on May 1, 2011 in This I Believe | 0 comments

My Religious Journey We all have stories.  It’s an honor to be able to share mine. Childhood into adulthood:  I grew up in a family of ex-Catholics.  My mother had been deeply wounded by the Church; she thought religion was dangerous and should be avoided.  My father also had been wounded; he thought that religion was irrelevant.  My aunt had a more positive experience at a Catholic boarding school, staffed by liberal nuns. Although we never attended church or read the Bible, I knew that in the outside world religion was important. ...

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This I Believe: Lisa Wersal (2010)

Posted by on Oct 3, 2010 in This I Believe | 0 comments

Experiencing the Divine Last spring, my mentor and friend, Sister Brian Spain of the Order of St. Benedict, passed away.  Louis and I were privileged to be at her bedside a few days before, and sat quietly in prayer and meditation, as she slept.  I offer my remarks today to honor her and her Benedictine Sisters, who nurtured my spiritual development during my college years and beyond.  They demonstrate many of the values we UUers hold dear: extending hospitality; being environmentally conscious and responsible; encouraging free thinking,...

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This I Belive: Ken Stewart (2010)

Posted by on Oct 3, 2010 in This I Believe | 0 comments

Let me begin by telling you a story.  After all, it’s the stories we remember, not all the high-minded principles.  When I was a young seminary student at Boston University School of Theology in the late 1960’s, Abraham Maslow’s studies of peak experiences intrigued me.  Maslow was a humanistic psychologist who was interested in studying healthy people, self-actualized people.  He studied peak experiences: those moments in our lives when we achieve profound insights and see how things fit together. Peak experiences are described by...

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This I Believe: Joanna Vail (2009)

Posted by on Oct 11, 2009 in This I Believe | 0 comments

I thought I should have more time because in 80 years I have had more beliefs than most people, but the Worship Committee said ten minutes is what you get. In 1971 my husband died at age 45 and left me with four young children – that was really five if I include me.  I was very sorry for myself and them. For several years I used alcohol to ease the pain and quiet the fear. Some very good friends, one of whom was the Governor of the state, who was also my boss, confronted me and said that they thought I should go to treatment at Hazelden. I...

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This I Believe: Steve Kahn (2009)

Posted by on Jun 23, 2009 in This I Believe | 0 comments

I thought about starting with “I believe in fluff,” but decided that needed some background. If I had given this talk before finishing high school my beliefs would have been typical for a New York City boy raised in a middle of the road Jewish family, not orthodox, not reform, but certainly believing in Yahweh of the Old Testament and all the stories that came with the cycle of holidays. Passover was the story of freedom from oppression, period. The story was true as told. Good guys in white hats, bad guys in black hats. River separates...

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This I Believe: Emily Shaw (2008)

Posted by on Sep 7, 2008 in This I Believe | 0 comments

“Emily, I’m afraid that when I go to Heaven, I won’t see you.” These were the words of my eleven-year-old best friend at my 12th birthday party sleepover. We had been talking about the nature of God’s love: how God could be loving and still let people go to Hell. I insisted that there could be no Hell if God truly loved us, while my friend felt that eternal damnation was our just desserts for sin. She told me she was terrified for the safety of my soul and prayed about it often. It was at that moment I realized that my vision of God...

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This I Believe: David Heath (2008)

Posted by on Apr 13, 2008 in This I Believe | 0 comments

My name is David, and I’m a Godaholic. I’ve tried really hard not to be a theist, but I always come back to a basic belief in some power or some energy or some force or some something that is what people call “God.” Over the last decade or so, I’ve sat with this congregation and heard others give their “This I Believe” talks. Each time, I’ve been humbled by the depth of their messages. Each time, I’ve been inspired by their words and experiences. Each time, I’ve started composing my own little “This I Believe” talk in...

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This I Believe: Kathleen Weflen (2008)

Posted by on Apr 6, 2008 in This I Believe | 0 comments

One October morning in 1938, at a small railway station on the plains of west-central Minnesota, a 12-year-old girl kissed her mother, dad, sisters, and brothers goodbye, then climbed aboard a train. By late afternoon she’d arrived in Faribault at the Minnesota School for the Deaf. During the next seven years, the train would take her back home only for Christmas and summer vacations. And the mail train would carry countless letters from her to her family and from them to her. Unable to call home, Donna Kjeldahl became a prolific writer of...

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