"free and responsible search for truth and meaning."
For the last few days I have been thinking about the Unitarian Universalist Church, as I have been a UU member in different cities since I was 16 years old. Recently I did a blog about my 23rd year wedding anniversary, where our wedding vows were administered by a UU female minister, and I found myself missing the UU church and the beliefs of a UU congregation. The little rinky dink town that I live in of only 500, does not have a Unitarian Church, but I have been happy to discover that there is one within 30 miles of here.
Many people balk, especially Christians, on the UU religion and belief, yet statistics have proven that the membership is still growing in leaps and bounds. The controversy is that UU's is not a true religion and there is no creed within the church. The lack of formal creed has been a cause for criticism among some who argue that Unitarian Universalism is therefore without religious content. Although lacking an official creed or dogma, Unitarian Universalist congregations respect the Seven Principles and Purposes of the Unitarian Universalist Association as noted below.
"We, the member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association, covenant to affirm and promote"
1. The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
2. Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
3. Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
4. A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
5. The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
6. The goal of world community with peace, liberty and justice for all;
7. Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
So, yes Unitarian Universalism is a faith with no creedal requirements imposed on members. It values religious pluralism and respects all diverse traditions within their movement. Many times it is seen as as a syncretic religion, as personal beliefs and religious services draw from more than one faith, tradition or belief.
I personally, think it is an excellent religion , and one where I personally draw much hope and faith within our ever changing world.
Why do I personally feel this way? Because UU religion is a liberal religion, and as members we keep our minds open to the religious questions people have continuously struggled with through out history and now. UU's believe that personal experience, conscience, and reason should be the final authorities in religion. In other words, religious authority of our personal beliefs lies not in books, other people, or institutions, but in ourselves. The UU religion is a free religion, and UUs believe people should be encouraged to think for themselves, and that should be honored and appreciated for their own individual thinking, regardless if we differ in these opinions.
UU's believe in responsible freedom of speech, thought, belief, faith, and a great deal more. We also proudly believe that each person is free to search for their own personal truth, concerning issues such as the existence, nature, the meaning of life, creation, and afterlife, and that is just naming a few. UUs can come from any heritage, have any sexual orientation, and hold beliefs from a variety of cultures or religions.
The following excerpts are from First Unitarian Church of Baltimore, and in this blog I will talk more about the UU church in Baltimore.
"We uphold the free search for truth - we will not be bound by a statement of belief, nor do we ask anyone to subscribe to a creed. We believe that religious wisdom is ever changing; human understanding of life and death, the world and its mysteries, is never final. Revelation is continuous. We celebrate unfolding truths known to teachers, prophets, and sages throughout the ages.
We seek to act as a moral force in the world, believing that ethical living is the supreme witness of religion. The here and now and the effects our actions will have on future generations deeply concern us. We know that justice, equity, and compassion should govern our relationships with one another, with diverse peoples, races, and nations."
The two paragraphs above say so much to me, as it describes so much of how I think and feel, which is why I choose the UU church and religion.
I found a survey where the Unitarian Universalist in the United States were asked which provided term or set of terms best describe their belief Below are the top choices.
Humanist - 54%
Agnostic - 33%
Earth-centered - 31%
Atheist - 18%
Buddhist - 16.5%
Christian - 13.1%
Pagan - 13.1%
On my journey of researching the Internet about the UU religion, I wanted to make sure that I found a link to the First Unitarian Church of Baltimore as I have memories of a Religious Education Director(RE for children) member attending a seminar in Birmingham Alabama in efforts to help RE directors, ( I was a RE director for the church in Huntsville), with curriculum, ideas and teachings for the children. It was an amazing weekend, and will be further discussed concerning Religious Education in my next blog.
Anyway, the First Unitarian Church of Baltimore was originally called "The First Independent Church Of Baltimore" and the UU Church of Baltimore has the distinction of being the oldest building in the United States built for, and used ever since by, a Unitarian congregation. If readers have time, I encourage you to visit the link, or at least bookmark it for reading later, as it is the best site on the Internet when it comes to UU churches that I have found. And if you are interested in knowing what UU sermons are about and how they reflect the UU religion, please take some time to read their Sermon Index.<>
My experience with the UU church as a member has brought a great deal into my life. While the members come from all talks and walks of life and races, what I discovered about the members is that they all are what I consider above average intelligence, very articulate and deep thinkers, and concerned about many things and the UU church has given them the opportunity to explore and express themselves. Many famous people are (and were) members or connected to the UU church. Albert Einstein wrote "the religious spirit of science.....a rapturous amazement at the harmony of natural law, which reveals an intelligence of such superiority that, compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection." This spirit, he says, is "closely akin to that which has possessed the religious geniuses of all ages." which can be viewed more and understood in this article Let's Get Physical by John Hertz, where he explains this particular quote is in so much relation to UU beliefs.
Also Famous Unitarians, Universalists and Unitarian-Universalists has a list of famous UU's, and I found this link concerning Charles Darwin also fascinating in reference to UU churches, religion and beliefs.
There is a great amount of information dealing with this subject of UU churches and their religion and beliefts on the super Internet highway that one can google to find more on. With me, it turned into an very interesting journey, which is why I blogged about my Thoughts And Considerations concerning this. I am working on my next blog of Religious Education for children in reference to Unitarian Churches. I am hoping that it will give parents a better idea of what and how children in a UU church are taught and how the curriculum is planned.