During my undergrad years at UCLA in late 80s, I was extremely active in an evangelical Christian worship group called the University Christian Fellowship, or UCF for short. It was a tightknit bunch of 30 or so folks from various denominations and backgrounds who gathered a couple of times a week for worship-sharing (singing), bible study and prayer. They were like family to me.
Recently I got an email from Larry Dunn, the old pastor of UCF while I was there. Coincidentally I was in Los Angeles for a conference, so I dropped him a line and we chatted for about half an hour. Apparently Larry ran into another former UCF member which inspired him to try and track down people who were active in the community back then.
Talking with Larry brought me back to a time in my life that I haven’t thought of for years.
The four years or so that I was active in UCF were simpler, largely
happy times for me. I felt like I had a larger purpose to my life,
that I was being a leader and an example for others. And I was among a
warm and loving community of people that cared for me. We socialized
together, did all-night study sessions together, went on trips, and
rented apartments with each other.
I remember fondly blissful evenings spent at Santa Monica beach with my
friends from UCF, singing Christian songs and telling stories as the
moon rose over the Pacific. And I cringe a little thinking about the
Christian drama group that I ran called “Agape Joe” that performed some
of the worst street theater ever. Ah, good times, good times.
That life feels so foreign to me now, like it happened in a dream.
Some of my UCF friends, and many many others who were there before me,
are apparently gathering at my old pastor’s house in the next week or
so. I’d be curious to see how people turned out after all this time.
Many of them still seem quite religious still, ministers in their own
churches or living abroad as a missionary.
My own faith journey has gone in a different direction, obviously. I
love being a Quaker and what that stands for. Quakerism feels so much
closer to my best and truest self. I wonder how that would be received
by some of my old evangelical Christian friends? Only one way to find out.