Interfaith families find common ground in Unitarianism
Gill Hurtig and his sister, Mae, play a game before the start of Lake Shore Unitarian Society services Sunday at the Winnetka Community House. | Kevin Tanaka for~Sun-Times Media.
Updated: December 20, 2012 2:26PM
WINNETKA — With the holiday season here, the focus on various religions and traditions becomes magnified, causing some to wonder what religion may be the right fit for them and their family.
Nancy Prial, of Wilmette, had those questions. She was raised in a Jewish family while her husband came from a Catholic background. The two wanted something that would work across their faiths and cultural traditions and came across Unitarianism.
Unitarianism is a 200 year-old movement which emphasizes shared values and ethical living over any particular doctrine. The Lake Shore Unitarian Society of Winnetka has been bringing North Shore families of different faiths and beliefs together for 50 years.
“What appealed to me was the openness,” Prial said. “There’s not one right path, but many paths that lead to being at peace with oneself.”
Prial and her husband were married years ago by a Unitarian minister. The couple joined the LSUS when they realized they wanted their own children to experience some religious education.
Prial’s son, Sam Pavlekovsky, a New Trier High School freshman, spent his eighth-grade year in the congregation’s “Coming of Age” program. Through the program, he spent time with a mentor and developed a personal statement to present to the society.
“The goal is to help rising teenagers discover more about themselves and find out what they believe in,” Pavlekovsky said. “I think it’s important to learn about yourself.”
Meeting every Sunday at 10:30 a.m. at the Winnetka Community House, the LSUS invites speakers from all different backgrounds to speak to the congregation. Past speakers included rabbis, ministers, Muslim clerics, college professors, bloggers and even politicians.
“(The LSUS works for) families looking for an answer to give their kids some religious literacy, some values, education and if they don’t think a traditional church is going to work for them,” said Dani Petrie, LSUS board chair. “We have many interfaith families in the congregation who were looking for common ground.”
The society uses crafts and creative projects to engage young students while adults typically dig into current events. All members gain exposure to diverse beliefs to gain feelings of acceptance and belonging.
“We have common values and common principles, but each member of the society is allowed to develop their own theology or belief in a spiritual being,” Prial said. “We pride ourselves on being open, welcoming and non-judgmental.”
More information on the LSUS is available at www.lakeshoreunitarian.org.