We are Unitarian
by Marta Flanagan
Are you looking
for a religious home?
want a religion that respects the differences between people and
affirms every person as an individual."
want a church that values children, that welcomes them on their own
terms...a church they are eager to attend on Sunday morning."
want a congregation that cherishes freedom and encourages open dialogue
on questions of faith, one in which it is okay to change your mind."
want a religious community that affirms spiritual exploration and
reason as ways of finding truth."
want a church that acts locally and thinks globally on the great issues
of our time...world peace; women's rights; racial justice;
homelessness; gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender rights; and
protection of the environment."
What We Believe
Universalism is a liberal religion born of the Jewish and Christian
traditions. We keep our minds open to the religious questions people
have struggled with in all times and places.
believe that personal experience, conscience, and reason should be the
final authorities in religion. In the end religious authority lies not
in a book, person, or institution, but in ourselves. We put religious
insights to the test of our hearts and minds.
uphold the free search for truth. We will not be bound by a statement
of belief. We do not ask anyone to subscribe to a creed. We say ours is
a non-creedal religion. Ours is a free faith.
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.
affirm the worth of all women and men. We believe people should be
encouraged to think for themselves. We know people differ in their
opinions and lifestyles, and we believe these differences generally
should be honored.
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
our relationships with one another, with diverse peoples, races, and
nations, should be governed by justice, equity, and compassion.
Unitarian Universalist congregation is involved in many kinds of
programs. Worship is held regularly, the insights of the past and
present are shared with those who will create the future, service to
the community is undertaken, and friendships are made. A visitor to a
Unitarian Universalist congregation will very likely find events and
activities such as church school, daycare centers, lectures and forums,
support groups, family events, adult education classes, and study
groups...all depending on the needs and interests of the local members.
Unitarian Universalist congregation is the fulfillment of a long
heritage that goes back hundreds of years to courageous people who
struggled for freedom in thought and faith. On this continent we
include the Massachusetts settlers and the founders of the republic.
Outstanding Unitarians and Universalists
include John Adams, Clara Barton, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Louisa May
Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Susan B. Anthony, Adlai Stevenson, Eliot
Richardson, and Whitney Young. Not as famous but equally worthy are the
thousands of men and women in our congregations leading vital,
dedicated, and useful lives.
congregations are self-governing. Authority and responsibility are
vested in the membership of the congregation. Each local congregation,
called a church, society, or fellowship, adopts its own bylaws, elects
its own officers, and approves its budget. Every member is encouraged
to take part in church or fellowship activities.
than one thousand congregations make up the Unitarian Universalist
Association (UUA), which represents our interests on a continental
The UUA grew
out of the consolidation, in 1961, of two religious denominations, the
Universalists, organized in 1793, and the Unitarians, organized in
provides resources and offers consultations to local congregations,
creates religious education curricula, spurs social action efforts,
expedites the settlement of professional religious leaders, supports
Beacon Press, and produces pamphlets, devotional
materials, and the bimonthly journal the UU World.
works in concert with many other Unitarian Universalist organizations,
the largest of which is the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
(UUSC). Since its early work aiding victims of Nazi oppression, the
UUSC has been helping people help themselves through service and
advocacy programs around the world. The Unitarian Universalist Women's
Federation, an independent membership organization, represents,
organizes, and acts on the concerns and issues of importance to UU
women across the continent. Another related organization is the
Unitarian Universalist Church of the Larger Fellowship, which provides
a ministry to geographically isolated religious liberals.
way is to come, see, think, and explore with us. A warm welcome awaits
Flanagan graduated from Smith College and received her master of
divinity from Harvard Divinity School. She is co-minister at the
Unitarian Universalist Church of Portsmouth, New Hampshire.