Robin says I'm out of touch because I live in an area with thousands of UUs in a couple of dozen churches (Thank you, A. Powell Davies), so I can't understand what more rural UUs go through.
And as much as I feel like the "I go to a 50-member UU church in the middle of nowhere and I find the people I go to church with intolerant of my views" people are overrepresented on the internet, for the record, I did used to be one to some degree.
I've lived in a place where there were only one or two UU churches within a reasonable distance (by which I mean "within 60 miles") and where I didn't particularly agree with a lot of the opinions that were voiced, from the pulpit and at coffee hour.
What did I do about it?
1. I picked the church that was older, smaller and needed me more. I did this mostly because they hugged less and made less of a fuss about greeting me. Pretty much one guy greeted at the smaller church. I loved that. Extroversion scares me off on Sunday morning. When I want to talk to you, I will. But let me test the water first. Anyway, they did, but when I joined, they were pleased to have me, even if I did believe weird things.
2. I participated with great enthusiasm in a discussion group where lots of people disagreed with me on lots of things, but where I learned about their beliefs as well as broadcasting my own.
3. I joined the worship committee where I worked with other people to design services better suited to people who believed what I did.*
4. When something was going on that I didn't believe in, I sat at the toasting table and watched the crowning of the queen of the may as the kids skipped around the maypole, and I tried to learn something from the experience.
5. I redoubled my efforts to explore my own spiritual beliefs through reading authors who saw the world similarly and through writing about what I believed.
6. I met some people online that I agreed with.
7. And yes, I found some people who agreed with me and went out to lunch with them and bitched about the service on occasion. Or tried to. But frankly, we liked some folks who disagreed with us so much that we always ended up inviting them along and our bitch session ended up more like a conversation. Also, my favorite pagan had an amazing voice and the blues trio at the restaurant we liked always wanted her to sing and when I was listening to her theological differences didn't seem terribly important.
8. I reached out to the people I went to church with. I got involved in charitable projects, I worked on lots of stuff for the church and I made lots of friends.
9. I tried to see if things I disagreed with could be interpreted as useful metaphor. This had been my parents' suggestion when I was a kid non-believer** and they were informing me that I was a Presbyterian until I turned 18***.
I learned more about who I was spiritually and what I believed at that church than I have at any of the churches where I've been more comfortable. And I developed a more sophisticated spiritual relationship with faiths different from my own and learned about things other faiths had to teach me, as well as more thoughtful reasons about why some things don't work for me spiritually.
who again, stuck it out as a Presby for 18 years, let's remember. Once your Great Aunt has calmly told you over a game of chess that this particular game of chess was in God's plan and the outcome of the game would be whatever God's hand and God's purpose predestined to occur, ain't nothing a UU can say that's going to bother you all that much.
*Again, I worked WITH people. I didn't make dire threats about what would happen to membership if I didn't get my way, and I didn't try to impose my way 100 percent and take over. I was in the minority and I respected that and picked my battles and got a lot of what I wanted.
**As I've mentioned before, it was Abraham and Isaac that did it for me. The idea that God was a colossal jerk who didn't actually give a shit about us made a lot of things in my life make sense, especially once I got to Junior High. The God I believe in now is indeed different from the one I didn't believe in then, as we theistic UUs like to put it.
***Before I turned 18 and a half, the Presbyterian church had fired their minister because she was a lesbian and I had quit. The minister and I are still friends. My parents, brothers and theChaliceRelative still go to the church. Much of life is battle-picking, kids.