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Unitarian Universalism (UU) is a
liberal religion Religious liberalism is a conception of religion Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of designated religious behaviour, behaviors and practices, morality, morals, beliefs, worldviews, religious text, texts, shrine, sanctified ...
characterized by a "free and responsible search for truth and
meaning Meaning most commonly refers to: * Meaning (linguistics), meaning which is communicated through the use of language * Meaning (philosophy), definition, elements, and types of meaning discussed in philosophy * Meaning (non-linguistic), a general ter ...

meaning
". Unitarian Universalists assert no
creed A creed, also known as a confession of faith, symbol, or statement of faith, is a statement of the shared belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psychology) In psychology ...
, but instead are unified by their shared search for
spiritual growth Spiritual formation may refer either to the process and practices by which a person may progress in one's spiritual or religious life or to a movement in Protestant Christianity that emphasizes these processes and practices. The processes may inc ...
, guided by a dynamic, "living tradition". Currently, these traditions are summarized by the Six Sources and Seven Principles of Unitarian Universalism, documents recognized by all congregations who choose to be a part of the Unitarian Universalist Association. These documents are 'living', meaning always open for revisiting and reworking. Unitarian Universalist (U.U.) congregations include many atheists, agnostics, and theists within their membership. There are U.U. churches, fellowships, congregations, and societies around the world. The roots of Unitarian Universalism lie in protestant established in 1793. The UUA is headquartered in
Boston Boston (, ), officially the City of Boston, is the capital city, capital and List of municipalities in Massachusetts, most populous city of the Commonwealth (U.S. state), Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the United States and 21st List of Unit ...

Boston
,
Massachusetts Massachusetts (, ), officially the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is the most populous state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * ...

Massachusetts
, and serves churches mostly in the United States. A group of thirty Philippine congregations is represented as a sole member within the UUA. The
Canadian Unitarian Council Canadian Unitarian Council (french: link=no, Conseil unitarian du Canada) (CUC) formed on May 14, 1961 to be the national organization for Canadians who belong to the Unitarian Universalist Association Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) ...
(CUC) became an independent body in 2002. The UUA and CUC are, in turn, two of the seventeen members of the
International Council of Unitarians and Universalists The International Council of Unitarians and Universalists (ICUU) is an umbrella organization founded in 1995 comprising many Unitarianism, Unitarian, Christian Universalism, Universalist, and Unitarian Universalism, Unitarian Universalist organiza ...
.


History


Puritan roots and Congregationalist background

Unitarian Universalism was formed from the consolidation in 1961 of two historically separate Christian denominations, the Universalist Church of America and the American Unitarian Association, both based in the United States; the new organization formed in this merger was the Unitarian Universalist Association. At the time of the North American consolidation, Unitarians and Universalists had expanded beyond their roots in liberal Christian theology. Today they draw from a variety of religious traditions. Individuals may or may not self-identify as Christians or subscribe to Christian beliefs.John Dart, ed
Surveys: 'UUism' unique Churchgoers from elsewhere
. ''Christian Century''
Unitarian Universalist congregations and fellowships tend to retain some Christian traditions, such as Sunday worship with a sermon and the singing of hymns. The extent to which the elements of any particular faith tradition are incorporated into personal spiritual practice is a matter of individual choice for congregants, in keeping with a creedless, non-dogmatic approach to spirituality and faith development. New England Unitarians evolved from the
Pilgrim Fathers The Pilgrims were the English settlers who came to North America on the ''Mayflower ''Mayflower'' was an English ship that transported a group of English families known today as the Pilgrims from England to the New World in 1620. After a g ...
' Congregational Christianity, which was originally based on a literal reading of the
Holy Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. "Common Greek"), also known as Alexandrian dialect, common Attic, Hellenistic or Biblical Greek, was the koiné language, common supra-regional form of Gree ...

Holy Bible
. Liberalizing Unitarians rejected the
Trinitarian The Christian theology, Christian doctrine of the Trinity (, from "threefold") defines God in Christianity , God as being Monotheism, one god existing in three wikt:coequal , coequal, wikt:coeternal , coeternal, Consubstantiality , consubsta ...
belief in the tri-personal godhead: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost/Spirit. Instead, they asserted a unitary notion of God. In addition, they rejected the doctrine of
original sin Original sin is the Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus Christ. The words ''Christ (title), Christ'' a ...
, moving away from the
Calvinism Calvinism (also called the Reformed tradition, Reformed Christianity, Reformed Protestantism, or the Reformed faith) is a major branch of Protestantism Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th-century Refor ...
of the
Congregationalists Congregational churches (also Congregationalist churches; Congregationalism) are Protestant Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th-century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be Crit ...
. New England
Universalists Universalism is the philosophical and theological concept that some ideas have universal application or applicability. A belief in one fundamental truth is another important tenet in universalism. The living truth is seen as more far-reaching th ...
rejected the
Puritan The Puritans were English Protestants Protestantism is a form of Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of J ...

Puritan
forefathers' emphasis on the select few, the Elect, who were supposed to be saved from eternal damnation by a just God. Instead Universalists asserted that all people will eventually be reconciled with God. Universalists rejected the hellfire and damnation of the evangelical preachers, who tried to revive the
fundamentalist Fundamentalism usually has a religious Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of designated religious behaviour, behaviors and practices, morality, morals, beliefs, worldviews, religious text, texts, shrine, sanctified places, ...
Christianity of the early Pilgrim fathers.


Universalism

Universalists claim a long history, beginning with
Origen Origen of Alexandria, ''Ōrigénēs''; Coptic language, Coptic: Ϩⲱⲣⲓⲕⲉⲛ Origen's Greek name ''Ōrigénēs'' () probably means "child of Horus" (from , "Horus", and , "born"). ( 184 – 253), also known as Origen Adamantius, was an ...

Origen
and
Gregory of Nyssa Gregory of Nyssa, also known as Gregory Nyssen ( grc-gre, Γρηγόριος Νύσσης; c. 335 – c. 395), was bishop A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian clergy who is gener ...

Gregory of Nyssa
, though some modern scholars question whether either of these church fathers taught the defining doctrine of Universalism (
universal salvation In Christian theology, universal reconciliation (also called universal salvation, Christian universalism, or in context simply universalism) is the doctrine that all sinful and alienated human souls—because of divine love and mercy—will ult ...
). This core doctrine asserts that through Christ every single human soul shall be saved, leading to the "restitution of all things" (
apocatastasis Apocatastasis (, from grc-gre, ἀποκατάστασις, ''apokatástasis'') is reconstitution, restitution, or restoration to the original or primordial condition. An interpretation divides apocatastasis into three types of restorations, those ...
). In 1793, Universalism emerged as a particular denomination of Christianity in the United States, eventually called the
Universalist Church of America The Universalist Church of America (UCA) was a Christian Universalist religious denomination in the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous U ...
. Early American advocates of
universal salvation In Christian theology, universal reconciliation (also called universal salvation, Christian universalism, or in context simply universalism) is the doctrine that all sinful and alienated human souls—because of divine love and mercy—will ult ...
such as
Elhanan WinchesterElhanan Winchester (September 19, 1751 in Brookline, Massachusetts – April 18, 1797 Hartford, Connecticut) was one of the founders of the United States General Convention of Universalists, later the Universalist Church of America. Life Self-ed ...
,
Hosea Ballou Hosea Ballou D.D. (April 30, 1771 – June 7, 1852) was an American Universalist clergyman and theological writer. Originally a Baptist, he converted to Universalism in 1789. He preached in a number of towns in Vermont, New Hampshire, and ...
and
John MurrayJohn Murray or John Murry may refer to: Arts and media Literature and music *John Murray (publishing house), a British publishing house, founded by John Murray (1745–1793) *John Murray (publisher, born 1778) (died 1843), second head of the pub ...
taught that all souls would achieve salvation, sometimes after a period resembling
purgatory Purgatory (, via Anglo-Norman language, Anglo-Norman and Old French) is, according to the belief of some Christianity, Christians (mostly Catholics), an intermediate state after physical death for expiatory purification. There is disagreement amo ...

purgatory
. Christian universalism denies the doctrine of everlasting
damnation Damnation (from Latin '' damnatio'') is the concept of divine punishment Divine judgment means the judgment of God God, in monotheistic thought, is conceived of as the supreme being, creator, and principal object of faith Faith, der ...

damnation
, and proclaims belief in an entirely loving
God In monotheism, monotheistic thought, God is conceived of as the supreme being, creator deity, creator, and principal object of Faith#Religious views, faith.Richard Swinburne, Swinburne, R.G. "God" in Ted Honderich, Honderich, Ted. (ed)''The Oxfo ...
who will ultimately all human beings.


Unitarianism

Historically, various forms of
Nontrinitarianism Nontrinitarianism is a form of Christianity Christianity is an , based on the and of . It is the , with about 2.5 billion followers. Its adherents, known as , make up a majority of the population in , and believe that is the , whose c ...
have appeared within Christianity. The term may refer to any belief about the nature of
Jesus Jesus, likely from he, יֵשׁוּעַ, translit=Yēšūaʿ, label=Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it ...

Jesus
Christ Jesus, likely from he, יֵשׁוּעַ, translit=Yēšūaʿ, label=Hebrew/Aramaic ( AD 30 / 33), also referred to as Jesus of Nazareth or Jesus Christ, is the central figure of Christianity, the Major religious groups, world's largest ...

Christ
that affirms
God In monotheism, monotheistic thought, God is conceived of as the supreme being, creator deity, creator, and principal object of Faith#Religious views, faith.Richard Swinburne, Swinburne, R.G. "God" in Ted Honderich, Honderich, Ted. (ed)''The Oxfo ...

God
as a singular entity and rejects the doctrine of the
Trinity The Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus Christ. The words ''Christ (title), Christ'' and ''Christian ...

Trinity
, as affirmed by the
mainstream Christianity Nicene Christianity is a set of Christian doctrinal traditions which reflect the Nicene Creed, which was formulated at the First Council of Nicaea in AD 325 and amended at the First Council of Constantinople in AD 381. History By the 2nd and 3 ...
: a consensus of Christian bishops at the
First Council of Nicaea The First Council of Nicaea (; grc, Νίκαια ) was a council of Christian bishops convened in the Bithynia Bithynia (; Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. "Common Greek"), also known as Alexandrian dialec ...
in 325. Nontrinitarianism was especially prevalent during the theological turmoils of the
Protestant Reformation The Reformation (alternatively named the Protestant Reformation or the European Reformation) was a major movement within Western Christianity File:Petersdom von Engelsburg gesehen.jpg, 250px, St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, the larges ...
. A Spanish physician,
Michael Servetus Michael Servetus (; es, Miguel Serveto as real name; french: Michel Servet; also known as ''Miguel Servet'', ''Miguel de Villanueva'', ''Revés'', or ''Michel de Villeneuve''; 29 September 1509 or 1511 – 27 October 1553) was a Spanish the ...

Michael Servetus
, studied the Bible and concluded that the concept of the Trinity, as traditionally conceived, was not biblical. His books ''On the Errors of the Trinity'' and ''Christianismi Restitutio'' caused much uproar. Servetus was eventually arrested, convicted of heresy, and burned at the stake in
Geneva , neighboring_municipalities= Carouge Carouge () is a Municipalities of Switzerland, municipality in the Canton of Geneva, Switzerland. History Carouge is first mentioned in the Early Middle Ages as ''Quadruvium'' and ''Quatruvio''. In 124 ...

Geneva
in 1553. The term "Unitarian" entered the English language via
Henry HedworthHenry Hedworth (1626–1705) of Huntingdon was a Unitarian writer. Henry Hedworth is chiefly notable for being the first person in the English language to introduce Latin (and Dutch) term "Unitarian" into print in England 1673, fourteen years befo ...
, who applied it to the teachings of
Laelio Sozzini Lelio Francesco Maria Sozzini, or simply Lelio (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium ...
and the Polish
Socinians Socinianism () is a system of Christian doctrine named after Italians Lelio Sozzini (Latin: Laelius Socinus) and Fausto Sozzini (Latin: Faustus Socinus), uncle and nephew, respectively, which was developed among the Polish Brethren in the Minor ...
. Unitarian churches were formally established in
Transylvania Transylvania is a historical region in central Romania. To the east and south its natural border is the Carpathian Mountains, and to the west the Apuseni Mountains. Broader definitions of Transylvania also encompass the western and north-western ...

Transylvania
and
Poland Poland, officially the Republic of Poland, is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 Voivodeships of Poland, administrative provinces, covering an area of , and has a largely Temperate climate, temperate seasonal cli ...

Poland
(by the
Socinians Socinianism () is a system of Christian doctrine named after Italians Lelio Sozzini (Latin: Laelius Socinus) and Fausto Sozzini (Latin: Faustus Socinus), uncle and nephew, respectively, which was developed among the Polish Brethren in the Minor ...
) in the second half of the 16th century.Harris, MW. Unitarian Universalist Origins: Our Historic Faith There, the first doctrines of religious freedom in Europe were established (in the course of several diets between 1557 and 1568, see
Edict of Torda The Edict of Torda ( hu, tordai ediktum) was a decree that authorized local communities to freely elect their preachers in the " eastern Hungarian Kingdom" of John Sigismund Zápolya. The delegates of the Three Nations of Transylvaniathe Hungarian ...
) under the jurisdiction of John Sigismund, king of Hungary and Prince of Transylvania, the only Unitarian monarch. The early Unitarian church not only rejected the Trinity, but also the
pre-existence of Christ The pre-existence of Christ asserts the existence of Christ before his Incarnation (Christianity), incarnation as Jesus. One of the relevant Bible passages is where, in the Trinity, Trinitarian interpretation, Christ is identified with a pre-exi ...
as well as, in many cases,
predestination Predestination, in Christian theology #REDIRECT Christian theology #REDIRECT Christian theology Christian theology is the theology of Christianity, Christian belief and practice. * help them better understand Christian tenets * make compara ...
and
original sin Original sin is the Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus Christ. The words ''Christ (title), Christ'' a ...
as put forward by
Augustine of Hippo Augustine of Hippo (; la, Aurelius Augustinus Hipponensis; 13 November 354 – 28 August 430), also known as Saint Augustine, was a theologian and philosopher of Berber Berber or Berbers may refer to: Culture * Berbers Berbers or ''Im ...

Augustine of Hippo
, and the
substitutionary atonement Substitutionary atonement, also called vicarious atonement, is an idea within Christian theology which suggests that Jesus died "for us", as propagated by the Western classic and objective paradigms of atonement in Christianity, which regard Jesu ...
of Christ developed by
Anselm of Canterbury Anselm of Canterbury (; 1033/4–1109), also called ( it, Anselmo d'Aosta, link=no) after his birthplace and (french: Anselme du Bec, link=no) after his monastery A monastery is a building or complex of buildings comprising the domestic ...

Anselm of Canterbury
and John Calvin. There were several different forms of
Christology In Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic, Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of Jesus, teachings of Jesus, Jesus of Nazareth. It is the Major reli ...
in the beginnings of the Unitarian movement; ultimately, the dominant Christology became psilanthropism: that Jesus was a man, but one with a unique relationship to God.


Britain

Influenced by the teachings of the Polish
Socinians Socinianism () is a system of Christian doctrine named after Italians Lelio Sozzini (Latin: Laelius Socinus) and Fausto Sozzini (Latin: Faustus Socinus), uncle and nephew, respectively, which was developed among the Polish Brethren in the Minor ...
,
Samuel Clarke Samuel Clarke (11 October 1675 – 17 May 1729) was an English philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphy ...

Samuel Clarke
(1675–1729) revised the ''
Book of Common Prayer A book is a medium for recording information Information is processed, organised and structured data Data (; ) are individual facts, statistics, or items of information, often numeric. In a more technical sense, data are a set of v ...

Book of Common Prayer
'', removing the Trinitarian
Nicene Creed The original Nicene Creed (; grc-gre, Σύμβολον τῆς Νικαίας; la, Symbolum Nicaenum) was first adopted at the First Council of Nicaea, which opened on 19 June 325.''Readings in the History of Christian Theology'' by William Ca ...
and references to Jesus as God.
Theophilus Lindsey Image:Theophilus Lindsey.jpg, Theophilus Lindsey Theophilus Lindsey (20 June 1723 Old Style, O.S.3 November 1808) was an England, English theologian and clergyman who founded the first avowedly Unitarianism, Unitarian congregation in the country, ...

Theophilus Lindsey
also revised the ''Book of Common Prayer'' to allow a more tolerant, free Unitarian interpretation. Neither cleric was charged under the
Blasphemy Act 1697 The Blasphemy Act 1697 (9 Will 3 c 35) was an Act of the Parliament of England The Parliament of England was the legislature A legislature is a deliberative assembly with the authority In the fields of sociology Sociology is the ...
that made it an "offense for any person, educated in or having made profession of the Christian religion, by writing, preaching, teaching or advised speaking, to deny the
Holy Trinity The Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus Christ. The words ''Christ (title), Christ'' and ''Christian ...

Holy Trinity
". The Act of Toleration (1689) gave relief to
English Dissenters English Dissenters or English Separatists were Protestant Protestantism is a form of that originated with the 16th-century , a movement against what its followers perceived to be in the . Protestants originating in the Reformation reject t ...
, but excluded Unitarians. The efforts of Clarke and Lindsey met with substantial criticism from the more conservative clergy and laity of the
Church of England The Church of England (C of E) is a Christian church Christian Church is a Protestant Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th-century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be Critic ...
. In response, in 1774, Lindsey applied for registration of the Essex House as a "Dissenting place of worship" with the assistance of
barrister A barrister is a type of lawyer A lawyer or attorney is a person who practices law, as an advocate, attorney at law, barrister A barrister is a type of lawyer in common law jurisdiction (area), jurisdictions. Barristers mostly specialis ...

barrister
John Lee John Lee may refer to: Academia * John Lee (astronomer) (1783–1866), President of the Royal Astronomical Society * John Lee (university principal) (1779–1859), University of Edinburgh Principal * John Lee (pathologist) (born 1961), English ...
. On the Sunday following the registration—April 17, 1774—the first true Unitarian congregation discreetly convened in the provisional Essex Street Chapel. In attendance were Lee,
Joseph Priestley Joseph Priestley (; 24 March 1733 – 6 February 1804) was an English chemist A chemist (from Greek ''chēm(ía)'' alchemy; replacing ''chymist'' from Medieval Latin Medieval Latin was the form of Latin Latin (, or , ) is a cla ...
and the agent of the Massachusetts Colony,
Benjamin Franklin Benjamin Franklin ( April 17, 1790) was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States The Founding Fathers of the United States, or simply the Founding Fathers or Founders, were a group of American revolutionary Patriots (also ...

Benjamin Franklin
. Priestley also founded a reform congregation, but, after his home was burned down in the
Priestley Riots The Priestley Riots (also known as the Birmingham Riots of 1791) took place from 14 July to 17 July 1791 in Birmingham Birmingham ( ) is a City status in the United Kingdom, city and metropolitan borough in the West Midlands (county), West Mi ...
, fled with his wife to America, where he became a leading figure in the founding of the church on American soil. Once laity and clergy relaxed their vehement opposition to the
Doctrine of the Trinity Act 1813 The Doctrine of the Trinity Act 1813 (53 Geo. 3 c. 160. sometimes called the Trinitarian Act 1812) was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the Parliamentary sovereignty in the United Kingdom ...
, which finally allowed for protections of dissenting religions, the British and Foreign Unitarian Association was founded in 1825. It has its headquarters in Essex Hall, successor to Lindsey's Essex House. Two that have been significant in national life are the
Cross Street Chapel Cross Street Chapel is a Unitarianism, Unitarian church (building), church in central Manchester, England. It is a member of the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches, the umbrella organisation for British Unitarians. Its presen ...
in Manchester and,
Newington Green Unitarian Church Newington Green Unitarian Church (NGUC) in north London is one of England's oldest Unitarianism, Unitarian churches. It has had strong ties to political radicalism for over 300 years, and is London's oldest Nonconformist (Protestantism), Nonconfor ...

Newington Green Unitarian Church
in
north London North London is the northern part of London, England, north of the River Thames. It extends from Clerkenwell and Finsbury, on the edge of the City of London financial district, to Greater London, Greater London's boundary with Hertfordshire. T ...
. Unitarian congregations in Britain today meet under the auspices of the
General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches The General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches (GAUFCC or colloquially British Unitarians) is the umbrella organisation An umbrella organization is an association of (often related, industry-specific) institutions, who work togeth ...
. There are 170 communities of Unitarians across Britain. The current Chief Officer of the British Unitarians is Liz Slade.


United States

In the United States, the Unitarian movement began primarily in the
Congregational Congregational churches (also Congregationalist churches; Congregationalism) are Protestant churches in the Calvinist tradition practising Congregationalist polity, congregationalist church governance, in which each Wiktionary:congregation, co ...
parish A parish is a territorial entity in many Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus Christ. The words ''Christ ( ...
churches of
New England New England is a region comprising six states in the Northeastern United States The Northeastern United States (also referred to as the American Northeast, the Northeast, and the East Coast) is a geographical region In geography ...

New England
, which were part of the
state church A Christian state is a country that recognizes a form of Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic, Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of Jesus, teachin ...
of Massachusetts. These churches, whose buildings may still be seen today in many New England town squares, trace their roots to the division of the
Puritan The Puritans were English Protestants Protestantism is a form of Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of J ...

Puritan
colonies into parishes for the administration of their religious needs. In the late 18th century, conflict grew within some of these churches between Unitarian and Trinitarian factions. In 1805, Unitarians gained key faculty positions at
Harvard Harvard University is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of nearly t ...
. In 1819
William Ellery Channing William Ellery Channing (April 7, 1780 – October 2, 1842) was the foremost Unitarianism, Unitarian preacher in the United States in the early nineteenth century and, along with Andrews Norton (1786–1853), one of Unitarianism's leading theologi ...
preached the
ordination Ordination is the process by which individuals are , that is, set apart and elevated from the class to the , who are thus then (usually by the composed of other clergy) to perform various religious . The process and ceremonies of ordination va ...

ordination
sermon for
Jared Sparks Jared Sparks (May 10, 1789 – March 14, 1866) was an American historian, educator, and Unitarian Unitarian or Unitarianism may refer to: Christian and Christian-derived theologies A Unitarian is a follower of, or a member of an organisation ...

Jared Sparks
in
Baltimore Baltimore ( , locally: ) is the most populous city The United Nations uses three definitions for what constitutes a city, as not all cities in all jurisdictions are classified using the same criteria. Cities may be defined as the city prop ...

Baltimore
, outlining the Unitarian position. The
American Unitarian Association The American Unitarian Association (AUA) was a religious denomination A religious denomination is a subgroup within a religion Religion is a - of designated and practices, , s, s, , , , , or , that relates humanity to , , and elements; ...
was founded as a separate denomination in 1825. By coincidence and unknown to both parties, the AUA was formed on the same day—May 26, 1825—as the British and Foreign Unitarian Association. In the 19th century, under the influence of
Ralph Waldo Emerson Ralph Waldo Emerson (May 25, 1803April 27, 1882), who went by his middle name Waldo, was an American essayist, lecturer, philosopher, abolitionist Abolitionism, or the abolitionist movement, was the movement to end slavery. In Western E ...

Ralph Waldo Emerson
(who had been a Unitarian minister) and other
transcendentalists Transcendentalism is a philosophical movement that developed in the late 1820s and 1830s in the eastern United States. "Transcendentalism is an American literary, political, and philosophical movement of the early nineteenth century, centered arou ...
, Unitarianism began its long journey from
liberal Protestantism Liberal Christianity, also known as liberal theology, is a movement that interprets and reforms Christianity, Christian teaching by taking into consideration modern knowledge, science and ethics. It emphasizes the importance of reason and exper ...
to its present more pluralist form.


Integration, 1825–1961

After the
schism A schism ( , , or, less commonly, ) is a division between people, usually belonging to an organization, movement, or religious denomination. The word is most frequently applied to a split in what had previously been a single religious body, s ...
in the Congregational Churches resulting in the foundation (1825) of the American Unitarian Association, some of those churches remained within the Congregational fold and became member congregations of the Congregational organization (later the
United Church of Christ The United Church of Christ (UCC) is a mainline Protestant The mainline Protestant churches (also called mainstream Protestant and sometimes oldline Protestant) are a group of Protestant denominations in the United States that contrast in h ...
), while others voted to become Unitarian. Some of the latter eventually became part of the
Unitarian Universalist Association Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) is a liberal religious association of Unitarian Universalist Unitarian or Unitarianism may refer to: Christian and Christian-derived theologies A Unitarian is a follower of, or a member of an organisati ...
(formed in 1961) during a consolidation of the Unitarian and Universalist churches. Universalist churches in contrast followed a different path, having begun as independent congregations beyond the bounds of the established
Puritan The Puritans were English Protestants Protestantism is a form of Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of J ...

Puritan
churches entirely. Today, the UUA and the United Church of Christ cooperate jointly on
social justice Social justice is justice in terms of the distribution of wealth Wealth is the abundance of valuable financial asset A financial asset is a non-physical asset whose value is derived from a contractual claim, such as deposit (finance), ban ...
initiatives such as the Sexuality Education Advocacy Training project. In 1961 the
American Unitarian Association The American Unitarian Association (AUA) was a religious denomination A religious denomination is a subgroup within a religion Religion is a - of designated and practices, , s, s, , , , , or , that relates humanity to , , and elements; ...
(AUA) was consolidated with the
Universalist Church of America The Universalist Church of America (UCA) was a Christian Universalist religious denomination in the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous U ...
(UCA), thus forming the
Unitarian Universalist Association Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) is a liberal religious association of Unitarian Universalist Unitarian or Unitarianism may refer to: Christian and Christian-derived theologies A Unitarian is a follower of, or a member of an organisati ...
(UUA).. In the same year, the
Canadian Unitarian Council Canadian Unitarian Council (french: link=no, Conseil unitarian du Canada) (CUC) formed on May 14, 1961 to be the national organization for Canadians who belong to the Unitarian Universalist Association Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) ...
(CUC) formed.. The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) was given corporate status in May 1961 under special acts of legislature of the
Commonwealth of Massachusetts Massachusetts (, ), officially the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is the most populous U.S. state, state in the New England region of the United States. It borders on the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Maine to the east, Connecticut to the southwe ...
and the
State of New York New York is a state in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern regions of the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous United States, primarily ...
. In 1998 the Canadian Unitarian Council and Unitarian Universalist Association dissolved their financial accord, although they continue to cooperate. The CUC had come into being at
Meadville Lombard Theological School The Meadville Lombard Theological School is a Unitarian Universalist Unitarian or Unitarianism may refer to: Christian and Christian-derived theologies A Unitarian is a follower of, or a member of an organisation that follows, any of several th ...
in 1961. However the continual decline of denominational churches and the almost complete failure of the Universalist movement in Canada had caused the formation of the Council to prompt a plan to merge with the UUA. Opposition to Liberal religious freedom relaxed, so that by 2002 it was agreed to increase autonomy and funding. The amalgamation proved troublesome for the Canadians, in a small minority, and largely ignored with only 45 congregations and 5,200 members – the Americans were insensitive to cultural differences.


Belief, covenant, and scripture

Unitarian Universalists practice a non-creedal religion. Their individual beliefs are diverse and they acknowledge each other's beliefs and traditions with acceptance or tolerance. Rather than focusing on doctrine or belief systems, or on keeping a narrow religious tradition, Unitarian Universalists place primary significance on the formal statements of their mutual covenant, or shared agreement, of religious community. Accordingly, congregants and member congregations of the movement agree to "affirm and promote" the Seven Principles and to embrace a "living tradition" that comprehends the Six Sources as drawn from the multitude of sources of human knowledge and experience.


Seven Principles

Adopted in 1960, the Principles, Purposes and Sources are incorporated in the Bylaws of the
Unitarian Universalist Association Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) is a liberal religious association of Unitarian Universalist Unitarian or Unitarianism may refer to: Christian and Christian-derived theologies A Unitarian is a follower of, or a member of an organisati ...
:


Six Sources

Unitarian Universalists emphasize the responsibility of the individual as well as the community for achieving spiritual growth and development. The complete statement of the Unitarian Universalist covenant describes the Six Sources upon which current practice is based: Over time, Unitarian Universalist principles, purposes, and sources have been changed, or 'grown', by the movement to manifest a broadening acceptance of beliefs and traditions among the membership. For example, both the seventh Principle, (adopted 1985), and the sixth Source, (adopted 1995), were added to provide inclusion for members with
neopagan Modern Paganism, also known as Contemporary Paganism and Neopaganism, is a collective term for religious movements influenced by or derived from the various Paganism, historical pagan beliefs of History of the world#Ancient history, pre-modern p ...
,
Native American Native Americans may refer to: Ethnic groups * Indigenous peoples of the Americas, the pre-Columbian peoples of North and South America and their descendants * Native Americans in the United States * Indigenous peoples in Canada, the indigenous p ...
, and
pantheist Pantheism is the belief that reality Reality is the sum or aggregate of all that is real or existent within a system, as opposed to that which is only imaginary Imaginary may refer to: * Imaginary (sociology), a concept in sociology * The ...

pantheist
spiritualities.


Approach to sacred writings

Originally, both Unitarianism and Universalism were Christian denominations, and U.U.s still reference Jewish and Christian texts. Today, the Unitarian Universalist approach to sacred writings, including the
Christian Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. "Common Greek"), also known as Alexandrian dialect, common Attic, Hellenistic or Biblical Greek, was the koiné language, common supra-regional form of Gree ...

Christian Bible
and
Hebrew Scriptures The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites, ...
, is taken more broadly: Unitarian Universalists regard the texts of the world's religions as venerable works of different peoples attempting to understand and explain 'the mystery' and 'the sacred' that surrounds all human existence and experience. They treat with respect the scriptural works of peoples of all religions or spiritual backgrounds.


Worship and practice


Diversity of practices

The Unitarian belief that reason, and not creed, defines the search for truth, and the Universalist belief that God embraces all people equally has led to the current Unitarian Universalist belief that truth and spiritual meaning can be found in all faiths. This is reflected in the wide array of spiritual practices found among Unitarian Universalists today. Many Unitarian Universalist congregations include Buddhist-style meditation groups, Jewish Seder,
Yom Kippur Yom Kippur (; he, יוֹם כִּיפּוּר, Yōm Kīpūr, , ; plural , ) is the holiest day of the year in Judaism Judaism is an Abrahamic The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as the world of Abrahamism and Semi ...
and Passover dinners, ''
iftaar Iftar, also known as (from , , 'breakfast'), is the evening meal with which Muslim Muslims () are people who follow or practice Islam Islam (; ar, اَلْإِسْلَامُ, al-’Islām, "submission o God Oh God may refe ...

iftaar
'' meals (marking the breaking of Ramadan fast for Muslims), and Christmas Eve/
Winter Solstice The winter solstice, also called the hibernal solstice, occurs when either of Earth's geographical pole, poles reaches its maximum axial tilt, tilt away from the Sun. This happens twice yearly, once in each hemisphere (Northern Hemisphere, Nort ...
services. Children's and youth's religious education classes teach about the divinity of the world and the sanctity of world religions. One of its more popular curricula, Neighboring Faiths (formerly Church Across the Street), takes middle and high school participants to visit the places of worship of many faith traditions including a Hindu temple, a Reform Judaism, Reform or Orthodox Judaism, Orthodox synagogue, and a Catholic Church, Catholic church. There is great variety among Unitarian Universalist congregations, with some favoring particular religious beliefs or forms of worship over others, with many more home to an eclectic mix of beliefs. Regardless of their orientation, most congregations are fairly open to differing beliefs, though not always with various faith traditions represented to the same degree.


Diversity of congregations

There is a wide variety in how congregations conceive of themselves, calling themselves "churches", "societies", "fellowships", "congregations", or eschew the use of any particular descriptor (e.g.
Unitarian Universalists of San Mateo
). Many use the name "Unitarian Universalist", (and a few "Universalist Unitarian"), having gradually adopted this formulation since consolidation in 1961. Others use names that reflect their historic roots by keeping the historical designation "Unitarian" or "Universalist" (e.g. "First Unitarian Church (Milwaukee, Wisconsin), First Unitarian Church"). A few congregations use neither (e.g. Unity Temple). For some congregations, the name can be a clue to their theological orientation. For others, avoidance of the word "church" indicates a desire to distance itself from traditional Christian theology. Sometimes the use of another term may simply indicate a congregation's lay-led or relatively new status. However, some Unitarian Universalist congregations have grown to appreciate alternative terms such as ''fellowship'' and retained them even though they have grown much larger or lost features sometimes associated with their use (such as, in the case of fellowships, a traditionally lay-led worship model). Also of note is that there are many more people who identify as Unitarian Universalist on surveys than those who attend Unitarian Universalist congregations (by a factor of four in a recent survey), reflecting those who have never joined (and lapsed members) but nonetheless consider themselves part of the Unitarian Universalist movement.


Elevator speeches

In 2004, ''UU World'' magazine asked for contributions of "elevator pitch, elevator speeches" explaining Unitarian Universalism. These are short speeches that could be made in the course of an elevator ride to those who knew nothing of the religion. Here are examples of the speeches submitted:


Worship and ritual

As in theology, Unitarian Universalist worship and ritual are often a combination of elements derived from other faith traditions alongside original practices and symbols. In form, church services might be difficult to distinguish from those of a Protestantism, Protestant church, but they vary widely among congregations.


Symbols

The most common symbol of Unitarian Universalism is the flaming chalice, often framed by two overlapping rings that many interpret as representing Unitarianism and Universalism (the symbol has no official interpretation). The chalice itself has long been a symbol of liberal religion, and indeed liberal Christianity (the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Disciples of Christ also use a chalice as their denomination symbol). The flaming chalice was initially the logo of the Unitarian Service Committee during the World War II, Second World War. It was created by Austrian artist Hans Deutsch. The holy oil burning in it is a symbol of helpfulness and sacrifice." Nevertheless, other interpretations have been suggested, such as the chalice used by the followers of Czech Jan Hus, which was supposedly reverential of Eastern Orthodox traditions; although Hus's early National Church was intrinsically an evangelical Protestant. In some agnostic historiographies the flaming chalice displayed a vague resemblance to a cross in some stylized representations, relying on the sepulchral traditions of the Hospitallers. Many Unitarian Universalist congregations light a chalice at the beginning of worship services. Other symbols include an Christian cross variants#Modern innovations, off-center cross within a circle (a Universalist symbol associated with the Humiliati movement in the 1950s, a group of reformist, liturgically minded clergy seeking to revive Universalism). Other symbols include a pair of open hands releasing a dove.


Services of worship

Religious services are usually held on Sundays and most closely resemble the form and format of Protestant worship in the Reformed tradition. Services at a vast majority of congregations follow a structure that focuses on a sermon or presentation by a minister, a lay leader of the congregation, or an invited speaker. Sermons may cover a wide range of topics. Since Unitarian Universalists do not recognize a particular text or set of texts as primary or inherently superior, inspiration can be found in many different religious or cultural texts as well as the personal experiences of the minister. The service also includes hymn-singing, accompanied by organ, piano, or other available instruments, and possibly led by a song leader or choir. The most recent worship songbook published by the denomination, ''Singing the Journey'' contains 75 songs and is a supplement to the older ''Singing the Living Tradition'' which contains readings as well. Hymns typically sung in Unitarian Universalist services come from a variety of sources—traditional hymn tunes with new or adapted lyrics, spirituals, folk songs from various cultures, or original compositions by Unitarian Universalist musicians are just a few. Instrumental music is also a common feature of the typical worship service, including preludes, offertory music, postludes, or music for contemplation. Pastoral elements of the service may include a time for sharing Joys and Sorrows/Concerns, where individuals in the congregation are invited to Ceremonial use of lights, light a candle or say a few words about important events in their personal lives. Many also include a time of meditation or prayer, led by the minister or service leader, both spoken and silent. Responsive readings and stories for children are also typical. Many congregations also allow for a time at the end of the service, called "talk back", where members of the congregation can respond to the sermon with their own insights and questions, or even disagree with the viewpoint expressed by the minister or invited speaker. Many Unitarian Universalist congregations no longer observe the Christian symbols of baptism, Eucharist, communion, or confirmation, at least in their traditional forms or under their traditional names. Congregations that continue these practices under their more traditional names are often federated congregation, federated churches or members of the Council of Christian Churches within the Unitarian Universalist Association (CCCUUA), or may have active chapters associated with the Unitarian Universalist Christian Fellowship or similar covenant groups. "Child dedications" often replace more traditional infant baptisms (such "dedications" are sometimes practiced even in "orthodox" Christian communities that do not baptize infants for theological reasons). Annual celebrations of Water Communion and Flower Communion may replace or supplement Christian-style communion (though many pluralist and Christian-oriented congregations may celebrate or otherwise make provisions for communion on Christian holy days). Confirmation may be replaced by a "Coming of Age (Unitarian Universalism), Coming of Age" program, in which teenagers explore their individual religious identity, often developing their own credo. After they have completed exploring their spiritual beliefs, they write a speech about it which they then personally deliver to the congregation.


Politics


Historical politics of Unitarians and Universalists

In the 19th century, Unitarians and Universalists were active in Abolitionism in the United States, abolitionism, the women's movement, the temperance movement in the United States, temperance movement, and other social reform movements. The Rochester Women's Rights Convention of 1848, second women's rights convention was held at the First Unitarian Church of Rochester, First Unitarian Church of Rochester, New York. Additionally, four President of the United States, Presidents of the United States were Unitarians: John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Millard Fillmore, and William Howard Taft.


Politics of Unitarian Universalists

Historically, Unitarian Universalists have often been active in political causes, notably the civil rights movement, the LGBT social movements, LGBT rights movement, the
social justice Social justice is justice in terms of the distribution of wealth Wealth is the abundance of valuable financial asset A financial asset is a non-physical asset whose value is derived from a contractual claim, such as deposit (finance), ban ...
movement, and the feminist movement. Susan B. Anthony, a Unitarian and Quaker, was extremely influential in the women's suffrage movement. Unitarian Universalists and Quakers still share many principles. It is therefore common to see Unitarian Universalists and Quakers working together. Unitarian Universalists were and are still very involved in the fight to end racism in the United States. John Haynes Holmes, a Unitarian minister and social activist at The Community Church of New York—Unitarian Universalist was among the founders of both the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909 and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), chairing the latter for a time. James J. Reeb, a minister at All Souls Church, Unitarian (Washington, D.C.), All Souls Church, Unitarian, in Washington, D.C. and a member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, was clubbed in Selma, Alabama, Selma, Alabama on March 8, 1965, and died two days later of massive head trauma. Two weeks after his death, Viola Liuzzo, a Unitarian Universalist civil rights activist, was murdered by white supremacists after her participation in the protest march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. The Selma to Montgomery marches for voting rights are best known for Bloody Sunday (1965), Bloody Sunday, which refers to March 7, 1965, the most violent of the three marches. The past head of the Unitarian Universalist Association 2001–2009, William G. Sinkford, is African-American, making Unitarian Universalism one of the first traditionally white denominations to be headed by a member of a racial minority. While Modern liberalism in the United States, political liberals make up a clear majority of Unitarian Universalists, the movement aspires to diversity, and officially welcomes congregants regardless of their political views. Politically conservative Unitarian Universalists point out that neither theological liberalism nor the Principles and Purposes of the UUA require liberal politics. Like the beliefs of Unitarian Universalists, politics are decided by individuals, not by congregations or the denomination. Several congregations have undertaken a series of organizational, procedural and practical steps to become acknowledged as a "Unitarian Universalism and LGBT topics#Welcoming Congregation, Welcoming Congregation": a congregation which has taken specific steps to welcome and integrate gay, lesbian, bisexual & transgender (LGBT) members. Unitarian Universalist ministers perform same-sex unions and now same-sex marriages where legal (and sometimes when not, as a form of civil protest). On June 29, 1984, the Unitarian Universalists became the first major church "to approve religious blessings on homosexual unions." Unitarian Universalists have been in the forefront of the work to make same-sex marriages legal in their local states and provinces, as well as on the national level. Gay men, bisexuals, and lesbians are also regularly ordained as ministers, and a number of gay, bisexual, and lesbian ministers have, themselves, now become legally married to their partners. In May 2004, Arlington Street Church (Boston), Arlington Street Church, in Boston, Massachusetts, was the site of the first state-sanctioned same-sex marriage in the United States. The official stance of the UUA is for the legalization of same-sex marriage—"Standing on the Side of Love". In 2004 UU minister Debra Haffner of The Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing published ''An Open Letter on Religious Leaders on Marriage Equality'' to affirm same-sex marriage from a multi-faith perspective. In December 2009, Washington, D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty signed the bill to legalize same-sex marriage for the District of Columbia in All Souls Church, Unitarian (Washington, D.C.) Unitarian Universalists for Polyamory Awareness engages Unitarian Universalist ministers and other leaders to educate them on polyamory. At the 2015 General Assembly (Unitarian Universalist Association), UUA General Assembly, the Association's non-discrimination rule was amended to include the category of "family and relationship structures"; the UUA has yet to take specific follow-up action on this, however. Many congregations are heavily involved in projects and efforts aimed at supporting environmental causes and sustainability. These are often termed "seventh principle" activities because of the seventh principle quoted above.


Controversies


External


Lack of formal creed

The lack of formal creed has been a cause for criticism among some who argue that Unitarian Universalism is thus without religious content. In May 2004, Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn ruled that Unitarian Universalism was not a "religion" because it "does not have one system of belief", and stripped the Red River Unitarian Universalist Church in Denison, Texas, of its tax-exempt status. However, within weeks, Strayhorn reversed her decision.


Confusion with other groups

There are separate movements and organizations who hold to classical Unitarian or Christian universalist Christian theology and neither belong to the Unitarian Universalist Association nor consider themselves Unitarian Universalists. The American Unitarian Conference and the Christian Universalist Association are the two most significant organizations representing these theological beliefs today. Christians who hold these beliefs tend to consider themselves the true Unitarians or Universalists and heirs of the theological legacy of the original
American Unitarian Association The American Unitarian Association (AUA) was a religious denomination A religious denomination is a subgroup within a religion Religion is a - of designated and practices, , s, s, , , , , or , that relates humanity to , , and elements; ...
or
Universalist Church of America The Universalist Church of America (UCA) was a Christian Universalist religious denomination in the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous U ...
, and they do not wish to be confused with Unitarian Universalists. The Unity Church is another denomination that is often confused with Unitarian Universalism.


Boy Scouts of America

In 1992, the UUA published statements opposing the Boy Scouts of America, BSA's policies of discriminating against Boy Scouts of America membership controversies#Position on homosexuals, homosexuals, Boy Scouts of America membership controversies#Position on atheists and agnostics, atheists, and agnostics; and in 1993, the UUA updated the curriculum guidance of its "Religion in Life" emblems program for young people in scouting to include criticism of the BSA policies. On account of the published criticism, in 1998 the BSA withdrew its recognition of UUA's Religion in Life emblem program. Subsequently, the UUA removed the objectionable material from the program curriculum and the BSA renewed recognition of the Religion in Life program. Later, the UUA issued internal, supplemental material to emblems-program workbooks that included general statements critical of discrimination on bases of sexual orientation or personal religious viewpoint. When the BSA learned of those (internal) statements it again withdrew recognition of the UUA Religion in Life emblems program. In 2004, the Unitarian Universalist Scouters Organization (UUSO), a group not affiliated with the UUA, established their "Living Your Religion" emblems program for UU-BSA scouts. Without the knowledge or approval of the UUA, the program was approved by the BSA Religious Relationships committee in 2005. Upon being noticed of the UUSO program the UUA issued a statement (March 16, 2005) clarifying that UUSO was not an affiliate organization of the UUA and asserting that, contrary to reports otherwise, UU congregations were still awarding the UUA Religion in Life emblem to their youth members in BSA Scouts—which emblems then were worn on the Scouts' uniforms without complaint from the BSA. Further, the statement made clear that the UUA still maintained its criticism of both the BSA’s ongoing discrimination against gay Scouts and gay Scout leaders and the BSA requirement of a religious litmus test for membership. Later events made these issues moot: In 2013, BSA opened its membership to gay youth, followed by opening membership to gay adults in 2015, which policy changes resolved the main UUA objection to supporting BSA. The UUSO dissolved in 2015 and by 2016, via a memorandum of understanding, the UUA religious emblems program was again formally recognized by BSA.


Internal


Language of reverence

During the presidency of William Sinkford, debate roiled the Unitarian Universalist (U.U.) movement over his call to return to, or to re-create, an authentic Unitarian Universalist "language of reverence." Sinkford suggested that as Unitarian Universalists abandoned traditional religious language they would relinquish, to others, religion's words of power. These other religionists would proceed to dictate their meanings of religious words and language, including scripture, in the public sphere. He advocated that Unitarian Universalists should regain their proper seat at the interfaith table by making this language their own. In response, others saw his idea as an effort to return Unitarian Universalist congregations to more orthodox Christian worship patterns. Indeed, some were concerned that it might be a call to oppose the growing influence among UUs of humanism and atheism, the adherents of which would be made unwelcome within the community. Sinkford denied such motives, citing the words of Unitarian Universalist humanists as examples of what he meant by "language of reverence". The growth of humanism among Unitarian Universalists stemmed in part from the congregational commitment to reach a universal audience while educating U.U. folk in biblical literacy, many of whom were born into families that eschewed or minimized religious or moral catechisms. (In addition to humanists, these folk comprehend atheists and theists, agnostics, skeptics and seekers, non-member affiliates, the religion-alienated and others among the larger UU congregation.) The debate saw the publication of a book by the UUA Beacon Press, written by former UUA President John Buehrens and titled ''Understanding the Bible: An Introduction for skeptics, seekers, and religious liberals''. Meant to serve as a kind of handbook to be read alongside the Bible, it provides interpretative strategies from a liberal religious perspective for the reader to engage in conversation about the Bible—what it says and what it means today. Positive engagement is intended rather than to relinquish all public conversation to others over interpretation of the Bible. Another important work by Buehrens, with Forrest Church, is ''A Chosen Faith: An Introduction to Unitarian Universalism'', in which the authors present the many sources of the Unitarian Universalist faith.


Borrowing from other religions

The "borrowing" of religious rituals from other faith traditions by Unitarian Universalists was discussed at the Unitarian Universalist General Assembly in 2001 during a seminar titled "Cultural Appropriation: Reckless Borrowing or Appropriate Cultural Sharing" by the Religious Education Dept, UUA."Cultural Appropriation: Reckless Borrowing or Appropriate Cultural Sharing"
Reported for the Web by Dwight Ernest, July 24, 2001, Unitarian Universalist Association
Of particular discussion was the borrowing rituals and practices that are sacred to specific tribes or using spiritual practices without real context.


Racism

Internal controversy over the hiring of the UUA's Southern Region Lead (a white man from outside the region over a Latina woman from within the region) led to resignations and apologies in 2017. UUA President Peter Morales, the denomination's first Latino president, resigned amid criticism of his failure to address the diversity controversies. The three co-presidents who took over commissioned a "racism audit" to address white supremacy within the denomination. In April 2018, ''The Washington Post'' reported that the UUA "in the past year has been asked to help resolve 15 congregational conflicts involving religious professionals of color".


Organizations

* Australia and New Zealand Unitarian Universalist Association (ANZUUA) is a Unitarian Universalist organization which serves as the organizing body for Unitarian and Universalist congregations in Australia and New Zealand. * Church of the Larger Fellowship (CLF) exists to serve Unitarian Universalists remote from any physical congregation. * Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice (CUSJ) is a Canadian Unitarian Universalist social justice organization that is an associate member of the CUC. *
Canadian Unitarian Council Canadian Unitarian Council (french: link=no, Conseil unitarian du Canada) (CUC) formed on May 14, 1961 to be the national organization for Canadians who belong to the Unitarian Universalist Association Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) ...
(CUC) is the national body for Unitarian Universalist congregations in Canada. They were a member of the UUA up until July 2002. * Canadian Unitarian Universalist Women's Association (CUUWA) is a Canadian Unitarian Universalist women's rights organization that is an associate member of the CUC. * Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans (CUUPS) is an association of Unitarian Universalists who define themselves as Pagans or Neopaganism, Neopagans. * European Unitarian Universalists (EUU) is a network connecting Unitarian Universalists and English-speaking Unitarian Universalist fellowships in Europe. *
International Council of Unitarians and Universalists The International Council of Unitarians and Universalists (ICUU) is an umbrella organization founded in 1995 comprising many Unitarianism, Unitarian, Christian Universalism, Universalist, and Unitarian Universalism, Unitarian Universalist organiza ...
(ICUU) represents Unitarian, Universalist, and Unitarian Universalist churches worldwide. The UUA and CUC are both members of this organization. * Promise the Children is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Promise the Children's mission is to help Unitarian Universalists advocate for and with children and youth. Promise the Children is also an Independent Affiliate of the UUA *
Unitarian Universalist Association Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) is a liberal religious association of Unitarian Universalist Unitarian or Unitarianism may refer to: Christian and Christian-derived theologies A Unitarian is a follower of, or a member of an organisati ...
(UUA) is the largest association of Unitarian, Universalist, and Unitarian Universalist congregations in the world, and the most well-known. It operates mainly within the United States including the territory of Puerto Rico. A few Unitarian and Unitarian Universalist congregations in other countries, such as San Miguel de Allende (Mexico), Auckland (New Zealand), and a few others are also members of the UUA. As of 2020, the UUA represents 1,078 member congregations that collectively include more than 152,000 members. * Unitarian Universalist Buddhist Fellowship (UUBF) is an association of Unitarian Universalists who define themselves as Buddhists. * Unitarian Universalist Christian Fellowship (UUCF) is an association of Unitarian Universalists who define themselves as Christians. * Unitarian Universalists for Polyamory Awareness is an association of Unitarian Universalists who support officially recognizing polyamory as a valid lifestyle. * Unitarian Universalist Service Committee is a nonsectarian organization devoted to promoting human rights and social justice worldwide. * Young Religious Unitarian Universalists (YRUU) is a term used within the UUA and CUC. YRUU was an organization at the North American continental level primarily run by youth, ranging in age from 14 to 20, with mentoring adult partners. The North American continental organization of YRUU ended in 2008, but the term is still used by certain active youth groups and conferences at the congregational and regional/district levels. It was created in 1981 and 1982, at two conferences, Common Ground 1 & 2. Common Ground was called to form a UUA-controlled replacement for Liberal Religious Youth (LRY), the Unitarian Universalist youth organization that preceded YRUU. LRY was dissolved by the UUA, and its assets absorbed by it. * Unitarian Universalist Animal Ministry (UUAM) is a diverse group of Unitarian Universalists who aim to broaden the circle of compassion to animals.


Number of members

As of December 2015, the UUA had 1,018 Unitarian Universalist member congregations in the United States and 1,043 Unitarian Universalist member congregations when including two congregations in the U.S. Virgin Islands, 19 in Canada, six in other countries, plus 28 multi-denominational member congregations: 17 in Massachusetts, MA, four in Illinois, IL, three in New Hampshire, NH, two in Vermont, VT, and one each in Maine, ME and District of Columbia, D.C. Seven of the ten US states with the most congregations are also among the most populous states; the state with the most congregations and members is Massachusetts; Vermont is No. 1 relative to its total population. A map using 2010 United States Census, 2010 U.S. Census data showing the relative number of congregations per 1 million people is posted here. And as of September 2014 there are 46 Unitarian Universalist congregations and emerging groups in Canada affiliated with the CUC. In 2015, there were 156,620 adult congregational members and 47,623 children enrolled in religious education programs. In 1956, Sam Wells wrote, "Unitarians and Universalists are considering merger which would have total U.S. membership of 160,000 (500,000 in world)". In 1965 Conkin wrote, "In 1961, at the time of the merger, membership [in the United States] was 104,821 in 651 congregations, and the joint membership soared to its historically highest level in the mid-1960s (an estimated 250,000) before falling sharply back in the 1970s ...". According to the 2008 ''Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches'', the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations claimed 214,738 members in 2002. Estimates from the 1990s put world membership between 120,000 and 600,000. In the United States, the American Religious Identification Survey reported 629,000 members describing themselves as Unitarian Universalist in 2001, an increase from 502,000 reported in a similar survey in 1990. The highest concentrations are in
New England New England is a region comprising six states in the Northeastern United States The Northeastern United States (also referred to as the American Northeast, the Northeast, and the East Coast) is a geographical region In geography ...

New England
and around Seattle, Washington. The U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, conducted in 2007 by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life and featuring a sample size of over 35,000, puts the proportion of American adults identifying as Unitarian Universalist at 0.3%. The 2001 Canadian census done by Statistics Canada put Canadian Unitarians at 17,480, and the September 2007 membership statistics from the CUC show they had at that time 5,150 official members. In 2015, the CUC reported 3,804 members.


Notable members


Notable congregations


See also

* Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans, CUUPS * Postchristianity * United and uniting churches *
United Church of Christ The United Church of Christ (UCC) is a mainline Protestant The mainline Protestant churches (also called mainstream Protestant and sometimes oldline Protestant) are a group of Protestant denominations in the United States that contrast in h ...


References


Further reading

* * * * * * 184 pages. * * *


External links

*
''UU World Magazine''
*
Creative Commons-licensed Unitarian Universalist sites and resources

DiscoverUU

''What is Unitarian Universalist?''
A YouTube video

from Harvard Divinity School's website. {{Authority control Unitarian Universalism, Agnosticism Atheism Critical thinking Freethought Humanism Liberalism and religion Panentheism Pantheism Peace churches Philosophical movements Philosophy of mind Philosophy of religion Pluralism (philosophy) Religious belief systems founded in the United States Religious pluralism Religious syncretism Schools of thought Secular humanism Spirituality Unitarianism Universalism