The Value of Community

Graduate Spotlight: Kevin Jagoe

Kevin Jagoe is a candidate for ministry with the Unitarian Universalist Association. He holds a BA in anthropology and criminal justice as well as a master’s in nonprofit management from Hamline University in Saint Paul, Minnesota. He is a graduate of The Humanist Institute’s class 17 and is currently studying for his M.Div. at Meadville Lombard Theological School. He serves the First Unitarian Congregational Society in Brooklyn, New York, as their ministerial intern and the Church of the Larger Fellowship as a learning fellow.

One of the biggest challenges facing us today is the idea that we can make it alone. Individualism is a major ingredient of things like white supremacy, resistance to universal health care, and our small market share of the public moral landscape as humanists. When we believe we are self-sufficient, we have bought into a belief that keeps us vulnerable.

At The Humanist Institute (THI), I began to figure out how I fit into a larger story and how to create meaning out of the beliefs I held about the world, humanity, and the role of identity in how we create meaning. After graduating from the THI’s certificate program, I continued to work at the institute and get involved in the national humanist movement.

Throughout my time attending various conferences, training humanist celebrants, and working with students in THI programs, I realized that I wanted to focus my career on how we create community together.

The place I felt the deepest connection was at First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis. A major piece of this connection was the ability to explore ideas beyond humanism and to include people I didn’t entirely agree with. A space where I am able to hear a talk on Sunday morning that lifts up humanist values but doesn’t bash religious thinking, and then at coffee hour where I can talk with someone who identifies as a theist and find common ground is the sort of place I want to help replicate in the world.

If I believe in any supernatural force in the universe that cannot be measured or fully understood by science, it is the power of human relationships to change what is possible. It is through communities like congregations that I see us practicing the tools to connect to one another in ways that we rarely make time for in our busy lives. They are spaces set aside where we can learn context from the past, develop practices to be more grounded in the present, and pass something on through this participation to those who will come in the future.

As I continue to work in a liberal religious community, my hope is to share the strengths of these practices with my non-religious humanist cousins. We do not need to hold Sunday morning services in order to bring about the same positive changes. I believe we do need to find ways to tell the stories of how our humanist ideas came to be; show how we fit into something larger than the moments of our own lives; and create authentic relations with people who we may not agree with but need in order to change this world we share.

Author: Voices of Humanism

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