How and when did Unitarian Universalism develop?
Our religious roots go back to the Protestant Reformation. Our earliest leaders questioned the rigid orthodoxy and creeds of the established Church. Unitarians urged people to read, reflect on, and consider Biblical texts on their own merit, not on the basis of what “church orthodoxy” proclaimed. Among the early Unitarians there was a deep desire to return to the true teachings of Jesus and to model our lives simply after his. Many of our earliest Unitarian leaders and congregations were found in Poland, Romania and northern Italy. Universalists believed in a loving God who would not preordain some to be saved and some not to be saved. This loving God urges us to use the love and courage within us to respect and affirm the inherent worth and dignity of all people and to actively work to help the world be a better place for all creatures. Many of our earliest Universalist leaders and congregations were found in England.
Are you a New Age religion?
No, we are a religion with roots going back to the 15th century. Our openness to new ideas, new insights, new perspectives throughout our history has caused our religious movement to often be seen as “heretical” by others. We are proud of our heritage and our willingness to always question the status quo for the sake of becoming clearer in our understandings and more courageous and compassionate in our commitment to social change.
Do Unitarian Universalists believe in God?
Unitarian Universalists have a wide range of beliefs about God or Goddess or Creative Source. For some, belief in God is an important cornerstone of their individual religious and spiritual journey. For others the question of whether there is a “Source” that we might call God or Goddess is not clear but they find it a topic for interesting shared reflection. And for still others, the concept of a God or Creative Source is not a useful subject for their individual life journeys. Unitarian Universalists affirm each other in our differing beliefs and we know we can learn from each other through respectful dialogue and listening.
What do Unitarian Universalists believe about Jesus?
Unitarian Universalists have a wide diversity of beliefs about Jesus. Most Unitarian Universalists believe that Jesus was a great teacher who modeled for us courage, compassion and universal love. We are interested in the work of scholars trying to uncover the most authentic sayings and teachings of Jesus. For some us the Unitarian Universalist Christian path brings inspiration and spiritual nurture with its central focus on Jesus and his life and teachings. For other Unitarian Universalists, Jesus remains a great religious teacher along with other great religious teachers who is a child of God only in the sense in which he was calling all of us to realize that we are children of God.
What happens in your Worship Services?
Our Worship Services are in form much like many Protestant services – we have readings, a story for children, hymns, a time of meditation and prayer, and a sermon. However, the sources of our readings, the variety of types of children’s stories, the words of the hymns and the meditation and prayer time reflect our liberal religious approach. We do not often use Biblical readings although on occasion we do. We use readings from world religions, from earth-based spiritual traditions, from science and philosophy, and from authors and poets.
What do children learn in your church school program?
The goal of our lifespan faith development program for children and youth is to awaken their individual sense of the religious, the mystical, the spiritual in life, to affirm and encourage their questions, to explore diverse sources of religious, spiritual and philosophical understanding, and to encourage their creativity and their compassion on their life journeys. Please visit the “Lifespan Faith Development” section of our website.