The name Unitarian means "one God." The name Universalist means "all are saved." View this video to get a good sense of what we are all about.
Our Roots Are in Protestant Christianity
Unitarians and Universalists were separate denominations that merged in 1961. Unitarianism was founded by people who wanted to follow the moral teachings of the human Jesus rather than worship Jesus as a deity. They emphasized the unity of God rather than the trinity. Universalism was founded on "universal salvation," the principle that a loving God would not condemn human beings to hell. Both traditions encourage religious freedom. They were influenced by 19th century transcendentalists such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Walt Whitman. They embraced the findings of science and were instrumental in the development of Humanism in the 20th century.
UUs Do Not Adhere to Only One Sacred Text
We believe that the Bible is a valuable book containing many important lessons and that it was written by humans over a long period of time. The Bible and its many interpretations have shaped our Unitarian Universalist history. Today, it is used in most Unitarian Universalist congregations as one of many sources of inspiration and reflection. Modern-day Unitarian Universalism does not hold to the Bible as the word of God and the source of absolute truth. Most of us believe that religious authority lies not in a book, person, or institution, but in ourselves.
Unitarian Universalists Are Inspired by Many Sources
- Direct experience of mystery and wonder.
- Words and deeds of prophetic women and men.
- Wisdom from the world's religions.
- Jewish and Christian teachings.
- Humanist teachings, which rely on reason and the results of science.
- Earth-centered traditions, which encourage us to live in harmony with nature.
UUs Put Their Faith Into Action
Both Unitarians and Universalists have emphasized making this world better rather than waiting for paradise. They have been instrumental in expanding human freedom through abolition of slavery, women's suffrage and gay rights. UUs were instrumental in the founding of such institutions as the Red Cross, the Humane Society, the ACLU, Planned Parenthood and the NAACP. Members of our local congregation, through our Social Action Council, have worked in concert with others at Habitat for Humanity, GLSEN, Piedmont Environmental Alliance, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Crisis Control Ministries, The Women's Fund, Vigils for Healing, CHANGE, and others. Learn more about our Social Action Council.
Frequently Asked Questions about Unitarian Universalist faith:
What is Unitarian Universalism theology?
Classical Unitarianism argued from scripture (Luke 24:19, Acts 2:22) that Jesus was a prophet of God and not part of a trinity. Classical Universalism also argued from scripture that all people are saved (I Corinthians 15:22, Ephesians 1:9-10). Modern Unitarian Universalism considers many world religions and secular philosophies as sources of truth. We believe in religious freedom, and our community encourages people to explore their individual spiritual paths.
Do Unitarian Universalists believe in God?
Some do and some do not. We are more concerned that a person's beliefs result in caring for other human beings and the earth.
What do Unitarian Universalists believe about heaven and hell?
Some believe in heaven. Few probably believe in hell except for the hell that people create for themselves. Some UUs believe in reincarnation, and some believe there is no afterlife.
Do Unitarian Universalists pray?
Some of us pray; others meditate or just think things through.
What relation does Unitarian Universalism have to Christianity?
We have expanded upon our Christian heritage to embrace positive aspects of many world religions and philosophies. Some UUs identify themselves as Christian; others are Jewish, Buddhist, humanist, earth-centered, agnostic, or atheist.
Is Unitarian Universalism a real religion?
It is not, if you believe religion is about dividing people between the saved and unsaved. However, if you believe that religion should seek to unite humanity rather than divide it, we might be more real than other religions. Some people think that we seem too good to be true.
Is Unitarian Universalism a cult?
No. The Universalist Church was founded in 1793, on the premise that God's love was strong enough to save all people. The Unitarian Association was founded in 1825, based on the belief that God is one. The two denominations merged in 1961. We are not affiliated with the Rev. Sun Yung Moon of the Unification Church.
How do Unitarian Universalist ministers prepare for their profession?
Typically, UU ministers earn a master's degree in divinity and work with the denomination's Ministerial Fellowship Committee to prepare to serve our congregations.
Can Unitarian Universalist ministers perform marriage ceremonies?
UU ministers are legally certified to officiate at weddings. In addition to traditional marriages, we perform ceremonies that other religions forbid. If you are divorced, gay, or lesbian, or if you and your partner are of different faiths, your love will be honored and respected by Unitarian Universalists.