What is Unitarian Universalism?
With its historical roots in the Jewish and Christian traditions, Unitarian Universalism is a liberal religion — that is, a religion that keeps an open mind to the religious questions with which people have struggled in all times and places. What gives life meaning? How should we raise our children? What happens when we die? Why do such hard things happen? Why do people do bad things?
We believe that personal experience, conscience and reason should be the final authorities in religion, and that in the end religious authority lies not in a book, deity, person, or institution, but in ourselves — our own hearts and minds. So, we draw on many sources (see below).
We are a "non-creedal" religion: we do not ask anyone to subscribe to a creed. We are focused more on how to live (see below) than on what to believe. Yet, many of us experience (or yearn to experience) a spiritual aspect to life that may deepen our spirit, strengthen our resolve, and connect us one to another in love. Though we are each on our own journey, we want to be in the company of others who quest for meaning and hope. And we especially want our children and youth to know and be guided by adults who share our values.
Our congregations are self-governing and self-funding. Authority and responsibility are vested in the membership of the congregation. Each Unitarian Universalist congregation is involved in many kinds of programs. Worship is held regularly, the insights of the past and the present are shared with those who will create the future, service to the community is undertaken, and friendships are made. Events and activities take place that serve to build a sense of community within the congregation, serve the community beyond the congregation, and work toward justice for all people.
Our Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations (UUA for short) is comprised of about 1000 congregations in the United States. It is organized into districts, which are regional groupings through which congregations receive programmatic support and work together for mutual goals. Our district is the Joseph Priestley District (named after an early Unitarian, who also discovered oxygen) and includes congregations in Maryland, northern Virginia, southern Pennsylvania, Delaware and the District of Columbia. Each congregation contributes to the UUA and the JPD its fair share based on its membership size.
Unitarian Universalist Principles and Sources
We, the member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association, covenant to affirm and promote
- The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
- Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
- Acceptance 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 which 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 and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life;
- Words and deeds of prophetic women and men which challenge 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 teachings 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 teachings of earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.
Grateful for the religious pluralism which enriches and ennobles our faith, we are inspired to deepen our understanding and expand our vision. As free congregations we enter into this covenant, promising to one another our mutual trust and support.
Adopted by the 1984 and 1985 General Assemblies
(the annual meeting of delegates from the congregations)
of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations,
of which Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church is a member.
For more information about Unitarian Universalism, please visit:
- The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA)
- The UUA Bookstore
- The Joseph Priestley District of the UUA