The freedom of choosing a different way

May 12, 1991|By Diane Winston

Wayne Shumway says he's a black sheep: In a family of staunch Mormons, he chose something different.

Mr. Shumway grew up in a small Idaho farming community where he was taught, according to Mormon tradition, to respect authority and to revere church teachings. His pedigree should have ensured success: His forefathers traveled West with Mormon founder Brigham Young.

But after studying engineering and living "back East," Mr. Shumway found he no longer accepted church doctrine.

"I was an active non-believer for a long time," said Mr. Shumway, an engineer in Salt Lake City, Utah. "I didn't believe the religious dogma."

Mr. Shumway discovered Unitarian Universalism when he attended a church program on "Mormophobia." Although he was attracted by the intellectual stimulation, it took him eight years before he overcame his Mormon roots to join the free-thinking church in 1983.

"I like being able to choose what I believe and not fit into a rigid dogma," he explained. "The intellectual part was attractive to me, and I liked participating in a small spiritualcommunity."

In recent years, Mr. Shumway has also enjoyed exploring his own spirituality.

He has been active in the South Valley Unitarian Universalist Society, a small church that is helping to start three more congregations in the Salt Lake City area.

"We explore the spiritual dimension of being human and we try to be accepting of all people," he said.

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