About Unitarian Universalism
We are a liberal religious faith.
We have no creed or interpretation of theology that members must agree to as a condition of church membership. Unitarian Universalists believe that all the major world religions have truth and wisdom to offer. We teach that we can learn from different cultures, and we welcome people of all religious and ethnic backgrounds to bring the richness of their heritage and lives into our community. We have faith that mutual understanding will foster mutual respect. We seek ultimately to create the beloved community among ourselves as a healing place for all who join us. As a congregation, we nurture the spiritual growth of each other and our children, and work together to realize our Unitarian principles in the world through service to our community.
At the heart of our faith is the conviction that, in the words of Unitarian Theodore Parker, "the work of faith is to foster the welfare of humankind." Says Jenkin Lloyd Jones, a leading minister to Chicago-area congregations in the nineteenth century,
Ours is not a mountain-top faith, held steady by a vision of the heavens. No, we are in and of the world. We are called to be leaven in our context -- to be in the midst, living lives that expand into the largest liberty of thought and the widest of fellowship.
We are a religious community, believing that our religious work is most effective when done together, fostering our individual spiritual growth as we contribute to the spiritual enlargement of the world. Together, we also have a larger voice in the world.
HistoryUnitarian Universalism is historically founded upon two ideas developed in the context of the Christian religious tradition: Unitarianism, positing that the divine force in the universe is unified and includes the spark of divinity in every human being (as opposed to a trinity) and Universalism, believing that every person is worthy of salvation. Those two ideas coalesce into our first principle: We affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person. Today, the connection of Unitarian Universalism to Christianity rests alongside equal regard for Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, Taoism, humanism, among all of the religious traditions of the world.
PrinciplesThe faith of Unitarian Universalism now rests in seven principles and draws its thinking from many sources. These seven principles shape the work of Unitarian Universalists in the world:
(1) we affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every individual;
(2) we promote justice, equity, and compassion in human relations;
(3) we practice acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
(4) we promote a free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
(5) we affirm the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
(6) we cherish the goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for every person; and
(7) we respect the interdependent web of all existence, of which we are a part.
Unitarian Universalists draw wisdom from many sources, most especially
(1) our individual direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to an openness to the forces that create and uphold life;
(2) words and deeds of prophetic women and men, who challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love;
(3) wisdom from the world's religions, which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life;
(4) the teachings of Judaism. Christianity, and others, which call us to love our neighbors as ourselves;
(5) humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the findings of science, and warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit; and
(6) 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.
Our principles sound very much like those of the United States, at its best, and indeed Unitarian Universalists have contributed significantly to the cultural history of the United States. Unitarians founded social service movements that have become hallmarks of American generosity: among others, Clara Barton and the American Red Cross, Dorothy Dix and mental health reform, Charles Spear and prison reform. Unitarian congregations, in their volunteer social justice projects, founded what became the cornerstone social service agencies of the city of Chicago: Chicago Commons, the Urban League, and Abraham Lincoln Center. Women who experienced unquestioned voting rights in their Unitarian and Universalist congregations became the leaders in the women's campaign for the vote, led by Unitarian Susan B. Anthony and members of her congregation at Saratoga, New York. And Unitarians organized the first Parliament of the World's Religions, held in conjunction with the 1893 Colombian Exposition in Chicago.