Unitarian Universalism is a world religion grounded in two core principles: All really is One and Love really is the Ground of our Being.
What holds Unitarian Universalists together is not a creed of fixed beliefs, but a covenant concerning how we try to treat one another and the world. Ours is a commitment to free religious thought and to the ever unfolding quest for truth and meaning. In the immortal words of Francis David, founder of Unitariansim in Translyvania in 1565 “Revelation is not sealed!”
Unitarian Universalism was formed in 1961 by a merger of two faiths, the Unitarians and the Universalists, both of which emerged from the Protestant Reformation. Unitarianism was the third oldest Protestant denomination, first organized in 1565 in Europe. Universalism emerged in England in the 1760s.
The theological core of each tradition dates back to the earliest Christian era.
For the Unitarians, whose origins include roots in Transylvania, Poland, Italy, England and America, this tradition includes a view of Jesus as a brother, spiritual master, social reformer and wisdom teacher. In this view, Jesus is an “examplar” showing us, through his own life and commitment to the Holy, the highest potential for humanity, rather than a unique incarnation of the divine. As Michael Servetus, Unitarian theologian and martyr, wrote in 1558, “God creates nothing to which he does not present and communicate himself. He is everywhere – the complete essence of all things. God manifests as fire, as air, as stone, as amber, as a twig, as a flower, as whatever else you will.”
Central to Universalism has always been a vision of a divine Love from which we can never be ultimately separated. As we cannot imagine that we do not all come from the same source, Universalist cannot accept that we do not all return to that same source. Thus Universalists reject the idea of Hell. Universalists affirm the essential goodness of human nature and firmly believe that is not the threat of punishment which brings out the best in us, but an experience of the fulfillment of living in right relationship to ourselves, others and Being itself.
A commitment to freedom of thought, reason, tolerance and diversity has been central to Unitarianism throughout its history. There have been several Unitarian U.S. Presidents, including Thomas Jefferson, and a number of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were either Unitarian or Universalist. The ideas and values of these two faiths formed a vibrant and vital part of the founding history of this country.
Both Unitarianism and Universalism have a long history of commitment to social justice and equality which calls us to ever new challenges and opportunities for creating “the kingdom of God on Earth” in every age.
The Unitarian Univeirsalist Association is a free affiliation of independent congregations which agree to affirm and promote:
- the inherent worth and dignity of every person
- Justice, equity and compassion in human relations
- Accpetance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations
- A free and responsible search for truth and meaning
- The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large
- The goal of world community with peace, liberty and justice for all
- Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part
The living tradition we share draws from many sources:
- Direct experience of that transcending Mystery and Wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit
- Words and deeds of prophetic women and men which challenges us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion and the transforming power of love
- Wisdom from the world’s religions which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life
- Jewish and Christian teaching which call us to respond to God’s love by loving our neighbors as ourselves
- Humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science, and warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit
- Spiritual teaching of Earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature