Bob Smietana 10-04-2012
 RNS photo by Steven S. Harman/The Tennessean

Members of the First Unitarian Universalist Church. RNS photo by Steven S. Harman/The Tennessean


For Nathan De Lee, going to church as a kid was an ordeal.

De Lee, a Unitarian Universalist, grew up in rural Kansas, where members of his faith were few and far between. Attending services meant an overnight trip to Kansas City, Mo., where the nearest Unitarian Universalist congregation was.

Today, getting to church is easy for De Lee, an astronomer at Vanderbilt University. He's a regular in the choir on Sundays at First Unitarian Universalist Church in Nashville, which has a congregation of about 500.

De Lee is one of a growing number of Unitarian Universalists, a group of people who believe in organized religion but are skeptical about doctrine. The denomination grew nationally by 15.8 percent from 2000 to 2010, according to the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies.

Cathleen Falsani 10-10-2011

The church calendar is tastefully rendered, thanks to a strategically-placed bag of golf clubs, banjo, laptop computer and what appears to be a large-mouth bass. The eldest pin-up dude is a retired minister who says there is a "certain elegance" to the older male form.