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I am A Unitarian Universalist

Unitarian Universalists must often begin conversations about faith with an explanation of where we came from, who we are, and what we "believe." Our history is complicated and our congregations theologically diverse. It's tough to capture the essence in just a few words, but here's one way I go about it!

Unitarian Universalism is the product of two perplexing questions that arose early in the development of the Christian faith and continued to be asked over many centuries in many places. The first was the question of how a good and loving God could condone violence and condemn human souls to hell. Our forebears asked “Is not God’s love and forgiveness complete and universal?” Thus universalism. The second was whether God is three “persons,” a trinity, or one, a Unity. Our forebears asked “Is not God One and aren’t we all One in God?” Thus unitarianism

People who think like a unitarian and love like a universalist are known to this day for asking awkward questions. Our faith evolves over lifetimes and centuries as we deepen our search for truth and justice. 

The Unitarians and Universalists never developed tests of faith or commonly accepted interpretations of any scripture. As Unitarian Universalists today we recognize many texts and teachers, both ancient and modern, texts that articulate stories, ideas and values worthy of our consideration. We gather in brick and mortar and virtual sanctuaries throughout this country and around the globe not as congregations united in one particular belief, but as communities of “purposeful companions” engaged in unique personal and shared spiritual journeys.

Three core values guided us through the tests of centuries and the unrest of nations: Reason (using our curious minds to make sense of our experience of the world), Tolerance (accepting and affirming human difference) and Freedom (delighting more in exploring the evolving questions than in aligning ourselves with answers set in stone). 

These days we covenant together to affirm and promote seven Principles and look to six Sources of wisdom distilled from millennia of human experience. You can find them here: Principles and Sources guide our effort, as individuals and as a community, to discern, articulate and live out our personal beliefs and our communal agreements with mutuality and integrity. 

Our foundational spiritual practice, as a people of faith, is our aspirational refusal to draw lines of separation between individuals or between groups of people. We are determined to open our hearts and sanctuaries to those who are oppressed and rejected, the way Jesus did as his main ministry during his lifetime. We commit to keeping our eyes focused on realities we may prefer not to see, to opening our minds to new concepts and practices, to giving our bodies conscientiously to the work that seems ours to do, and to devoting our maturing spirits to growing healthy connections with the Holy, with other living beings, and with the earth. 

Some members of our congregations were born into the UU faith, others come from a variety of faith backgrounds or none. Some continue to draw upon the wisdom and inspiration of their natal faiths and some have left them behind as their experience has revealed new ways to understand the meaning and purpose of their lives and communities. Among us we welcome people whose theological understanding is grounded in paganism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism and other faiths. Many among us identify as atheists and agnostics, for whom the realities of Science and the beauty of Mystery serve as reliable guides along life's path. 

Because of this delicious diversity of religious experience and exploration, we think we make pretty darn good interfaith community partners! 

-Rev. Margie Allen


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