We believe that all individuals should be encouraged to develop a personal theology, and to express openly their opinions without fear of rejection, reprisal or censure. The arbiter in religion is not a church or a document. It's not an official. It's the individual.
We have many beliefs. Chief among them is that we believe deeply that love can transform the world. Our shared values and ethics guide us in how we live and work. In times of need, they help us find the courage to carry on.
Yes. We welcome people of all religious traditions and beliefs, including atheists. Unitarian Universalists affirm a diversity of religious ideas and support spiritual development guided by freedom, reason, and conscience.
We do not have a defined doctrine of God. Members are free to develop individual concepts of God that are meaningful to them. They are also free to reject the term and concept altogether. Most of us do not believe in a supernatural, supreme being who can directly intervene in and alter human life or the mechanism of the natural world. Many believe in a spirit of life or a power within themselves, which some choose to call God.
In most services, there are few, if any, mentions of a deity. The emphasis is on issues of human growth, human potential and personal human issues that we all face in day-to-day living. There is also an emphasis on social, moral and ethical issues that confront us. Although subjects are presented from the religious perspective of the minister or the speaker, it is never assumed that all present have a common belief in God. God means different things to different Unitarian Universalists. To some, the term has little or no meaning. Whatever the case may be, we offer an accepting congregation where each person can discover what gives life meaning, purpose and direction.
We do not believe that Jesus Christ was born of a virgin, performed miracles and was resurrected from death. We do admire and respect the way he lived, the power of his love, the force of his example and his system of values. Most Unitarian Universalists regard Jesus as one of several important moral and ethical teachers who have shown humans how to live a life of love, service and compassion. Though some of us may question whether Jesus was an actual historical figure, we believe his teachings are of significant moral value.
We regard the Bible as one of many important religious texts but do not consider it unique or exclusive in any way. We do not interpret it literally. We think some parts of it offer more truth and relevance than other parts. Although Unitarian Universalists respect the Bible and regard some of its content as great literature, it is not a central document in our religion.
Very few Unitarian Universalists believe in a continuing, individualized existence after physical death. Even fewer believe in the physical existence of places called heaven or hell where one goes after dying. We believe immortality manifests itself in the lives of those we affect during our lifetime and in the legacy we leave when we die.
We do not believe that any religious precept or doctrine must be accepted as true simply because some religious organization, tradition or authority says it is. Neither do we believe that all Unitarian Universalists should have identical beliefs.
No. We believe we should be judged by how well we live our lives and serve others, not in what a redeemer will do for us. We respect religious and spiritual leaders such as Jesus, Moses and Buddha for what they can teach us about living, not as redeemers in the traditional sense.
We feel that people who live moral and ethical lives usually do so because they have a sense of responsibility to themselves and to others. Our incentive is that we want to live in a more sane, peaceful, and just world than the one we have at present, and we wish to pass on a better world to succeeding generations. To hold that moral and ethical living only occurs because people fear hell or damnation is to demean those who seek to lead morally and ethically responsible lives.
Attend a service. You will be greeted at the door and can learn about small group opportunities for education and spiritual growth. Stay for coffee and conversation in Hobart Hall following the service. Give some thought to whether you prefer to meet new people in social- or work-related activities; we offer plenty of both options. For more information, contact any member of the Membership Committee.
Unitarian Universalist congregations are open to people of all backgrounds. Although each Unitarian Universalist congregation is different, worship services in most of our societies draw on a wide variety of religious and other sources for inspiration. We welcome each of you, no matter what your religious background is.
A question for you to ask yourselves is whether Unitarian Universalism speaks to your religious needs and desires. What are you looking for in a religious community? Do our principles, our style of worship, our way of being together, provide a context where your religious life can flourish? The best way to find out if a congregation will feel comfortable to your family is for you and your partner to attend a number of services. You also may want to meet with the minister, sit in on some of the religious education programs, and take a closer look at the congregation's hymnal as you try to determine whether the congregation will be a good fit for your whole family.
Religious conversion means giving up one faith to take on another. If you become part of a Unitarian Universalist congregation, we do not ask you to give up the religious convictions of your heritage. We do ask you to bring those convictions with an open heart and an inquiring mind, knowing that others in the congregation bring their own ideas and beliefs that may not be the same as yours.
Our Sunday school curricula cover a wide variety of topics, including Unitarian Universalist history and principles, the Bible, world religions, images of god in different cultures, social justice, the wonder of the natural world, and ethical decision making. Sunday school classes present various viewpoints on the issues they address and encourage young people to develop their own thinking about religious questions.
Individuals or families planning a wedding, service of union, funeral, or child dedication will usually meet with a minister to discuss their thoughts and desires. The minister will put together or work with people to design a service that meets their needs and fits within the Unitarian Universalist tradition. Unitarian Universalist services are often personalized with elements drawn from numerous sources.
The answer to this question varies among Unitarian Universalists. Unitarians and Universalists, once liberal Protestant Christian denominations, drew away from their Christian base to embrace the principle of individual freedom of belief. Although some churches are still liberal Christian, today only about 20 percent of Unitarian Universalists would call themselves Christian. Thus Unitarian Universalism cannot be considered a totally Christian religion.
A primary way we differ is that we do not regard Jesus as a unique revelation of God. Most Unitarian Universalists (even Unitarian Universalist Christians) would reject a literal interpretation of accepted Christian beliefs such as the Virgin Birth, the miracles of Jesus and the Resurrection. While Unitarian Universalist Christians would accept a symbolic interpretation of these events, most Unitarian Universalists view Jesus as a moral and ethical teacher and no more than that.
Because ours is a very humanistically-oriented religion, most Unitarian Universalists regard themselves as humanists in one sense or another. But, like the term God, humanism also means different things to different Unitarian Universalists. Basically, humanism means that we humans are responsible for our destiny for better or worse and we cannot rely on an outside power or deity to determine our individual or collective fate. Humanism is also an affirmation of the power of the human mind and the human spirit. There are both secular and religious humanists. Secular humanists do not believe in any kind of deity; they find little, if any, value in religious language, stories, myths or symbols of any religious tradition.
The religious humanist, while holding to the above definition of humanism, does not completely disavow the idea of God. Usually defining God as a power deep within themselves, they also find certain messages or themes in religious stories that provide them with understanding and guidelines for human living. There are both secular and religious humanists within our church family, and we make room for both.
In dealing with beliefs and theology, it's important to note that Unitarian Universalism is a way of being religious rather than a religious doctrine. For us, religion is an ongoing search for meaning, purpose, value and spiritual depth in one's life. We believe that individuals are entitled to make their own search, and that not all persons (not even all Unitarian Universalists) are going to share the same beliefs. Ours is a non-creedal, non-doctrinal religion which affirms the individual's freedom of belief. For this reason it is not possible to give a blanket answer to whether or not Unitarian Universalists believe in God, Jesus, the Bible or life after death. Although we do not all believe the same thing about these and other matters, we do believe that each person has the integrity and the ability to come to terms with their religious beliefs in a way that is right for that person.
We believe there is wisdom in most, if not all, of the world's religions. We feel each is valuable for what it can tell us about ourselves and our world, and how its members find religious meaning and direction.
We believe in the universality of religion in that we recognize all humans ask questions such as "Why am I here? What is the meaning and purpose of my life? Why do I have to die?" Realizing all religions seek to provide answers to questions like these, we think there is much wisdom in their many answers. Few Unitarian Universalists contend that there is, or ever will be, a single universal religion that is right for everyone.