Yesterday, something momentous happened. No one else probably recognized the significance of it, but I’ll write about it here. I identified myself as a Unitarian Universalist for the first time.
On Facebook, a friend who struggles with alcoholism announced that his local CUUPs (Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans) group was encouraging people to avoid him, presumably because of his issues. I responded that this was unacceptable, and that we UUs believe in the “inherent worth and dignity of every person.” (I told my friend to let the parent congregation of this particular chapter know what was going on, as well.)
This may seem insignificant to my friend and others, but for me it was a big deal. Even though I have been a member of the local UU church for a little over a year and a member of CUUPs for a month or two, I had not identified as UU. I identified primarily as a Pagan who’s just a member of a UU church.
So what is Unitarian Universalism?
According to the website of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), the organization that governs all UU congregations:
Unitarian Universalism affirms and promotes seven Principles, grounded in the humanistic teachings of the world’s religions. Our spirituality is unbounded, drawing from scripture and science, nature and philosophy, personal experience and ancient tradition as described in our six Sources. (Source: http://www.uua.org/beliefs)
So, our tradition draws upon six Sources (more on this in a moment) for our seven Principles, which are:
- 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 existence of which we are a part (Source: http://www.uua.org/beliefs/what-we-believe/principles)
It wasn’t hard for me to accept these Principles, as I already agreed with most of them. These Principles come from six Sources that inform our worship. The six Sources are:
- 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. (Source: http://www.uua.org/beliefs/what-we-believe/sources-our-living-tradition)
The last source is important. Pagan teachings are recognized as valid and of value, which was what drew me to the UU church in the first place.
You might be able to figure out that Unitarian Universalism isn’t so much about what you believe, it’s about what you do–how you manifest your beliefs here in this world. ADF Druidry is similar; our members have varying beliefs about the Gods and Spirits, but we have a common form of ritual–which is what we do.
My Pagan heart feels like I should perform some sort of personal ritual to mark this change, as I did when I became Pagan, but the more I think about it, the more it seems like I’ve been a UU all along.