Unitarian Universalism is a caring, open-minded religion that encourages you to seek your own spiritual path. Our faith draws on many religious sources, welcoming people with different beliefs. We are united by shared values, not by creed or dogma. Our congregations are places where people gather to nurture their spirits and put their faith into action by helping to make our communities and the world a better place. We invite you to visit our website: www.uua.org Beliefs and Values Unitarian Universalism is a liberal religion with Jewish-Christian roots that advocates freedom of belief and the search for advancing truth, and tries to provide a supportive community for people who believe that ethical living is the supreme witness of religion. As members of a non-creedaal religious tradition, Unitarian Universalists are free to discern their beliefs about theological and ethical issues. Individual Unitarian Universalists may also identify as Atheist, Agnostic, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Humanist, Jewish, Muslim, Pagan, or with other philosophical or religious traditions.
* Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
* A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
* The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
* The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
* Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
Unitarian Universalism draws from many sources:
* Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life;
* Words and deeds of prophetic women and men which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love;
* Wisdom from the world's religions which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life;
* Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God's love by loving our neighbors as ourselves;
* Humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science, and warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit.
* Spiritual teachings of earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.
Unitarian Universalists have a rich religious community. When UU’s speak of "worship," they usually are referring to the shared religious life of their congregation: attending Sunday worship services, creating religious music, honoring life passages like marriage and death, and celebrating special holidays together. Worship services are opened in many congregations with the lighting of the chalice, a wide-lipped stemmed cup, that is the symbol of the Unitarian Universalist faith, the official logo that represents the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations (UUA).
The day-to-day life of a congregation is the glue that holds the spiritual community together. Unitarian Universalism approaches the more "secular" aspects of congregational life with the same religious intent as its worship. Each congregation's religious education classes, community activities, special youth and young adult groups and activities, and even the building facilities committees are essential aspects of our spiritual work. We believe it is our deeds, not our creeds, that are most important.
Unitarian Universalists are committed not only to spiritual growth and transformation but also to involvement in the world. Working for civil rights and combating oppression are essential parts of our spiritual journey. Our faith community has worked for justice for hundreds of years, from advocating for free speech and the free practice of religion as far back as the fifteen hundreds to helping to abolish slavery and supporting women’s rights beginning in the eighteen hundreds.
We continue to work for justice today in ways that resonate with our Principles, from protecting our environment ( Green Sanctuary ) to standing up for the full rights of bisexual, gay, lesbian, and transgender people. (Welcoming Congregation) . While we cannot always take action on every issue that arises, we do our best to make our congregations, our communities, our denomination, and our world a better place.
The Unitarian Universalists Ministry for the Earth program evolved into the Green Sanctuary Program in 2000 and is a resource for environmental education by congregations and provides an accreditation procedure. It promotes developing sustainable lifestyles, based on awareness of the linkages between the religious and related social, ethical and justices issues, including environmental justice. The Green Sanctuary education advocates stewardship of the earth all levels with an emphasis on global climate change and the need for responsible action to reduce carbon emissions and prevent the predicted environmental catastrophe
Marriage Equality (same-sex marriage) remains at the forefront for Unitarian Universalist’s advocacy. Unitarian Universalism fully supports the right of all committed couples to marry. Unitarian Universalist congregations, the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) and Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry & UULM advocate for legally sanctioned same sex marriages in every state.
The growing homelessness is a serious social issue that impels UU action. The UU principle of the inherent worth and dignity of every person motivates addressing both the contributing causes of this severe social problem as well as direct service for the homeless individuals and families, mentally ill and other disadvantaged persons.
Unitarian Universalist congregations are democratic in polity and operation and govern themselves. There are 1041 congregations in the U.S., Canada and overseas. And the Unitarian Universalist Association ( UUA) unites the congregations and provides services through the nineteen districts. Annual General Assembly ( GA) business meetings are held in various areas and are conducted by the elected moderator. The UUA is govern by an elected Board of Trustees. that meets four times a year. An elected president, appointed executive vice president, a treasure and ten others form the leadership council.
The Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations is located at 25 Beacon Street, Boston Massachusetts. (www.uua.org). It publishes the UU World magazine quarterly that descended from the Universalist Magazine founded in 1819 and the Christian Register in 1821. The Beacon Press publishes other UU publications.
Unitarian Universalism emerged from two different religions: Unitarianism and Universalism. Both Unitarianism and Universalism started in Europe hundreds of years ago. The Universalist Church of America was founded by 1793, and the American Unitarian Association by 1825. In 1961, these denominations consolidated to form the new religion of Unitarian Universalism.
Unitarian beliefs became known after the death of Jesus, but people didn't form religious groups based on the ideas until the middle of the fifteen hundreds in Transylvania and the middle of the sixteen hundreds in England. The religious authorities of the times saw these early Unitarians as heretics and often persecuted them. Important figures from this period in Unitarian history include John Biddle, Francis David, Michael Servetus, King John Sigmund and Faustus Socinus
All Unitarians were originally Christians who did not believe in the Holy Trinity of God (Father, Son, and Holy Ghost). Instead, they believe in the unity, or single aspect, of God. Unitarianism eventually began to stress the importance of rational thinking, each person's direct relationship with God, and the humanity of Jesus.
Unitarianism flourished in the religious freedom of early America. By 1825 Unitarian ministers had formed a Unitarian denomination called the American Unitarian Association. Speaking out on issues such as peace, education reform, prison reform, orphanages, capital punishment, moderation in temperance, ministry to the poor, and the abolition of slavery, the AUA's liberal voice was soon heard throughout the country. The influential Unitarians from this era included William Ellery Channing, Theodore Parker, Joseph Priestly, and Thomas Starr King, who was also a Universalist.
American Unitarianism went through many changes , from the introduction of Transcendentalist thought in the middle of the eighteen hundreds through debates about war and pacifism in the Civil War and the two World Wars to the influx of Humanism in the early 1930s. These changes slowly made Unitarianism a more broad and flexible faith.
Unitarians have been very influential throughout American history, especially in politics and literature. Some famous Unitarians include Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams, Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Paul Revere, President William Howard Taft, and Frank Lloyd Wright.
Universalists are Christians who believe in universal salvation. They don't believe that a loving God could punish anyone to hell for eternity. Instead, they believe that everyone will be reconciled with God eventually.
While Universalist beliefs have been proclaimed for thousands of years, starting with Origen in 200 CE and continuing through to James Relly in the sixteen hundreds, the faith didn't have the opportunity to form into a widespread religious movement until English Universalists came to America in the late 1700s to escape religious persecution.
Because of its loving and inclusive doctrine, Universalism quickly became popular throughout the United States, especially in rural areas and the expanding western states. The Universalist denomination, called the Universalist Church of America, was formed by 1793. Universalists including Hosea Ballou, John Murray, and Benjamin Rush helped to spread and develop their faith's teachings throughout the denomination's early years.
The Civil War unfortunately destroyed many Universalist churches and killed many Universalist ministers who had served as chaplains for the armies from 1861-1865. Soon after, a softer approach to the idea of damnation became popular throughout the US in the mid to late eighteen hundreds, making the Universalist denomination less unique in its teachings. The denomination struggled for many years as membership waned.
Universalists have been influential throughout American history. Some famous Universalists include Clara Barton, Olympia Brown, Thomas Starr King, Horace Greeley, George Pullman, Mary Livermore, and Benjamin Rush.
Universalists were best known for supporting education and nonsectarian schools, but they also worked on social issues including the separation of church and state, prison reform, capital punishment, the abolition of slavery, and women's rights. In 1863 the Universalists became the first group in the United States to ordain a woman with full denominational authority.
After growing theologically and ethically close, the Unitarian and Universalist denominations consolidated in 1961 to form the new religion of Unitarian Universalism. Unitarian Universalism no longer solely holds traditional Unitarian or Universalist beliefs, but draws directly on its heritage for much of its inspiration and grounding.
Since 1961, Unitarian Universalism has followed in the footsteps of its Unitarian and Universalist heritages to provide a strong voice for social justice and liberal religion.
Within a very few years, Unitarian Universalists' voices were heard nation-wide advocating for the rights of conscientious objectors to the war in Vietnam as well as for voting and civil rights for people of color in the south.
Many members responded to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s call to witness and participate in the voting rights march in Selma, Alabama in 1965. Unitarian Universalists James Reeb and Viola Liuzzo were killed because of their participation in this protest, and ended up becoming martyrs of the movement.
Unitarian Universalists social justice work in the 1970s deepened by actively supporting the rights of gay and lesbian people, publishing the Pentagon Papers, working within our denomination to support feminism and to combat racism and oppression. They spoke out against U.S. aggression in 1991 when the Gulf War started and again in 2001 when the U.S. entered hostilities in Iraq. Unitarian Universalists continue to protest unjust wars and unnecessary violence today.
You are invited to visit the Unitarian Universalist website www. uua.org for more information and to find the nearest congregation.
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