“Unitarian Universalism is a diverse and non-creedal faith, affirming and promoting the inherent worth and dignity of all people.”
That’s the elevator pitch we give at our church every Sunday, but ask any UU what it is, and they’ll probably have something a little different to say. Maybe it’s their church’s pitch. Maybe it’s their own interpretation. Either way, Unitarian Universalism is a liberal religion with Judeo-Christian roots that believes that all humans, regardless of race, gender, gender-identity, creed, age, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, nationality, etc. is valuable and has worth and dignity. When UU’s say, “All Are Welcome”; they truly mean it.
Unitarian Universalism can be broken down into their two words for a very basic definition. Unitarian means one who rejects the concept of the Holy Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) and believes, instead, in the unity of God as one. Universalism is the idea that all people are “saved” and will go to “heaven”, no penance required. They were two separate religions, Unitarianism (established in 1825) and Universalism (established in 1793), combined in 1961 with the forming of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA).
UU’s don’t have a book they read or prayers they recite. Instead, we take lessons, stories, songs, and guidance from a multitude of sources. You may attend a UU service and hear quotes from Christian, Jewish, and Buddhist theologians. You might recite a responsive reading written by an atheist. Perhaps there was a guest speaker the day you came, and they’re talking about current events and how UU’s can respond to and offer guidance from them.
The only thing that is required of a Unitarian Universalist is that you find your own truth and live it the best you can, and that you follow the seven UU principles (which can be found here). You could be sitting next to someone who grew up Christian and still believes in the idea of Heaven and the divinity of Jesus. You could be sitting by someone who grew up Muslim but has converted to Atheism for any number of reasons. You could even be having dinner with a family who was lucky enough to grow up in the Unitarian Universalism community. That’s the beauty of it; we all come from such different backgrounds and have hugely diverse beliefs, but we can all agree on one undeniable truth; we are all humans worthy of love and respect. How beautiful is that?
UU’s are all about social justice and, more importantly, social action. They practice what they preach. If you see a UU wearing a Black Lives Matter wristband or a safety pin, don’t be surprised when you see them at the rallies and protests. Drive by my church and you’ll see a bright rainbow flag flying next to our sign, so get ready to see us in all our rainbow glory at the annual PRIDE parade.
So, what does being a UU mean to me? Well, a large part of my answer stems from the reason I became a UU and how I found the church in the first place. But we’ll save that for the next blog post in the series. Being a UU, for me, means having a like-minded community where I can express myself. It means that I am free to be liberal in an otherwise conservative area. It means that I am surrounded by others who genuinely care about my well-being as a person instead of just what I have to offer the group. It means being in an environment that fosters my growth spiritually and intellectually while challenging my previous notions of how the world works and my role in it. It means being absolutely enveloped in love and prayers and hugs when my mother passed away in February. It means giving me opportunities to be involved with people from all walks of life that I’d previously have had no way of getting to know. It means family. It means home.
If you’re ever interested in attending a UU church but don’t know where the closest one is, you can look here. If you find there aren’t any near you, or just want to hear a sermon or two, find the closest church to you and see if they have their services recorded. Any UU service in the country will work, but I find that sermons from churches near me have the most relevant topics for me. Not sure that UUism is even for you? Take BeliefNet’s Belief-O-Matic quiz and find out which religion(s) best suits you. No matter what you decide, I can promise you that there will always be a UU church to welcome you with open arms, a warm hug, and coffee. Lots of coffee.
P.S. For anyone in the Collin County, TX area, I go to Community UU Church in Plano. The website is here, but if you’re ever interested in attending a service and don’t want to go alone, let me know and I’ll be happy to sit with you.