Unitarian Universalism--info and argument

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Unitarian Universalism--info and argument

Post by DotNotInOz on Sat Jul 04, 2009 2:11 pm

Probably nothing is more characteristic of Unitarian Universalists than getting into a heated discussiion. The best place to catch them at it is at "UU Mecca," around the coffeepot after the service. If you don't hang around to see what the topics of contention fueled by coffee may be that Sunday, you'll be missing the essence of both the church you attended and Unitarian Universalism itself.

So, as an on-again, off-again UU (currently heading into "on" mode once more), I thought I'd start a thread here for discussion of what being a UU entails as well as arguing whether or not it really means what I say it means. Twisted Evil

While I'll certainly answer questions as I'm able, probably these links will provide you with many of the answers to "What do you...?" questions. Each link will take you to a portion of the Unitarian Universalist Association's official website.

The UUA homepage: http://www.uua.org

What UU's believe: http://www.uua.org/visitors/beliefswithin/index.shtml

Flaming Chalice Symbol: http://www.uua.org/visitors/6901.shtml
Some UU's maintain that its name "flaming" is singularly appropriate since UU churches tend warmly to welcome bisexuals, gays, lesbians, transgenders and whatever other orientations may be out there somewhere. Pretty apt, I'd say. Anyway, it would be rare indeed to have a UU minister chastised or dismissed for living an openly gay life, particularly when the denomination was the first in the U.S. to ordain openly gay ministers. In many cases, BGLT ministers' partners are active members of the congregation.

UU Principles: http://www.uua.org/visitors/6798.shtml
It is, however, important to keep in mind that these do not by any means constitute what individual UU's are supposed to believe. There is no "supposed to believe." UUism is a non-creedal faith. Quite a lot do believe and try to uphold these principles. Others notably do not, even to being quite vocal about why they do not. The principles are part of the UUA's bylaws and are intended to guide relationships between UU churches and fellowships. Even then, they are only guidelines and not laws by which congregations must necessarily abide.

History: http://www.uua.org/visitors/ourhistory/index.shtml

Publishing: http://www.uua.org/publications/index.shtml
Beacon Press has long been noted as an award-winning cutting edge publisher. It was the first to publish the Pentagon Papers years ago and generally offers controversial publications of various types as well as more conventional works. Even some stuff on religion!

The UUA Bookstore is a terrific resource for books and other materials which may be of interest to anyone concerned about contemporary life issues and international relations.

Finally, another link on this list that may be of interest is that to the denomination's magazine, UU World. (Personally, I think it's not terribly exciting. Sometimes, there will be provocative articles, but like many church magazines, this one also mostly provides information about what's going on in various churches, etc.)

Congregation locator: http://www.uua.org/aboutus/findcongregation/index.php
Obviously, in case you'd like to visit a UU church or fellowship near you. If there isn't one, you might roam about the website of the UUA's Church of the Larger Fellowship.
http://www.clf.uua.org

As the name implies, it serves primarily those who live too far from a church or fellowship to attend services, hence, the "larger" fellowship. That's where I began as a UU in the early 1980's. However, anyone may belong to this church-online. It can be especially helpful if a person doesn't care for the UU church(es) nearest where s/he lives or is otherwise unable to get involved with a "bricks and mortar" church as they're often called.

CLF also offers a do-it-yourself introduction to UUism by means of a 3-month trial membership which gives you some of the privileges of CLF members, most notably being able to borrow from CLF's terrific lending library if you live in the U.S. When I tried out one of these memberships a few months ago to see how it worked, CLF staff were working on extending borrowing privileges internationally, but costs, of course, are prohibitive.

One important thing to know about the Unitarian Universalist Association is that unlike many Christian denominations, each individual UU church or fellowship is its own governing entity, run by the democratic process with policies and procedures determined by the members thereof. Thus, there are no bishops, archbishops, etc. as in most Christian faiths. A church or fellowship may or may not have a minister or ministers, depending upon its size, resources and whether or not congregants wish to call a minister to serve. Some do not, preferring to have a committee of members plan service content and lead the services.

There is a president of the UUA, but s/he is elected by delegates to the annual convention and serves only as the representative of UUism to the world at large. This person is not in any way the "head of the church," because there is no "church" in the sense of all the individual churches being part of one larger body called "The Whatever Church." Instead, the individual churches simply associate with each other for various benefits that an individual church would be most unlikely to be able to offer its members such as a magazine, various other publications, social service to needy people of the world, and so forth.

Now, you have the basics of Unitarian Universalism. Questions cheerfully answered as I can. If I can't, I'll endeavor to refer you to a source of information.
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Re: Unitarian Universalism--info and argument

Post by DotNotInOz on Sat Jul 04, 2009 9:39 pm

Slight correction: I should have said that the UUA president does do some presidential stuff akin to the role of the presiding officer of any club or organization. So, it's not really accurate to say that the president "serves only as the representative of UUism..."

Oh, well...guess I have to admit to being human.
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Re: Unitarian Universalism--info and argument

Post by AutumnalTone on Tue Jul 07, 2009 3:18 pm

Also note that the UUA has a couple of Pagan-themed congregations. Gaia Community, in the KC metro, has been around for over a decade. A younger such congregation can be found in Dallas, TX. (I've heard rumors of a third, also.) These are lay-led congregations.

Pagans can be found in many other UU congregations, and an organization for UU Pagans, CUUPS, has existed for many years.
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Re: Unitarian Universalism--info and argument

Post by Willowcreek70633 on Tue Jul 07, 2009 10:43 pm

Evening all! Searched up the Unitarian Universalism church I attended some yrs back! Still in existence, whee! bounce Evidently I was on the wrong street! (Right church, wrong pew...so to speak) Laughing
Unitarians seems to draw and greet with open arms the "open minded", spiritual dwellers that walk the earth.
Web site for Spindletop UUA in Beaumont TX: "Affirming and Promoting Justice, Equity and Compassion in Human Relations, and Respect for the Interdependent Web of All Existence." Sort of says it all, doesn't it?
As I was telling DotNotInOz, I really, really, enjoyed myself immensely @ a July function that this particular church had! The people were incredible, when you walked on the church grounds your spirit knew that opening up was accepted and respected. The key morale here is "Accept and respect" should be given back accordingly! I'm really thinking of emailing them to see if there are any summer functions coming up! My son doesn't know that such a church exists, close by....well only 60miles away!
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Re: Unitarian Universalism--info and argument

Post by DotNotInOz on Wed Jul 08, 2009 3:56 am

SeventhCrow wrote:Also note that the UUA has a couple of Pagan-themed congregations. Gaia Community, in the KC metro, has been around for over a decade. A younger such congregation can be found in Dallas, TX. (I've heard rumors of a third, also.) These are lay-led congregations.

Pagans can be found in many other UU congregations, and an organization for UU Pagans, CUUPS, has existed for many years.

That's true, SC. The Pagan movement within UUism is growing somewhat from what I've heard, since UUism provides a church context within which a group of Pagans can access benefits and facilities they'd otherwise have to provide for themselves. Affiliation with the UUA allows a church or fellowship's members to book vacations, attend conferences and workshops or go for retreats at any of several conference centers throughout the U.S. that are operated by the UUA. The one I've been to a few times is Ferry Beach on the southern coast of Maine. Lovely place for a quite inexpensive (but somewhat rustic) vacation. A person pays about 2/3 the cost of lodging at even an inexpensive motel in that area during July and August, and you can get delicious meals as desired for a quite reasonable additional cost.

As for CUUPS, the minister of the first "bricks and mortar" UU church I belonged to, Web Kitchell, was active in CUUPS [Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans]. Web was the author of a book trio of sermon collections of his conversations with Coyote the Trickster. Just a hoot but expressing solid UU principles at the same time. I was much saddened to learn recently of his death in February of this year.
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Re: Unitarian Universalism--info and argument

Post by DotNotInOz on Wed Jul 08, 2009 4:09 am

Willowcreek70633 wrote:
Unitarians seems to draw and greet with open arms the "open minded", spiritual dwellers that walk the earth.

In principle, yes. However, since each church or fellowship is its own entity, you'll find some groups rather less welcoming to certain beliefs than others. I know that sounds negative, but it does occur, people being human and all. That it does is one reason why I'm not rushing to join one of the local churches. If I do join, I want to be as certain as I can that it's a congenial group for me.

I may simply join one on a trial basis as a Friend of the Church. It's kind of an in-between status from visitor to member, generally intended for those who are full members of another church but wish to support that UU one, too. A few such that I've known went to early service at their member church and then came to the UU church. Whew! don't know that I'd be up to sitting in church for that long of a Sunday.

Web site for Spindletop UUA in Beaumont TX: "Affirming and Promoting Justice, Equity and Compassion in Human Relations, and Respect for the Interdependent Web of All Existence." Sort of says it all, doesn't it?

Pretty much so, although they've taken a shortcut and compressed some of the UU Principles to come up with that motto. Can't blame 'em. Easier than trying to draft their own, yanno?

As I was telling DotNotInOz, I really, really, enjoyed myself immensely @ a July function that this particular church had! The people were incredible, when you walked on the church grounds your spirit knew that opening up was accepted and respected. The key morale here is "Accept and respect" should be given back accordingly! I'm really thinking of emailing them to see if there are any summer functions coming up! My son doesn't know that such a church exists, close by....well only 60miles away!

Have you checked to see if there's an events calendar on their website, Willow? Most UU churches post one somewhere on their site anymore.

Sixty miles isn't that bad. I'd have thought that next door when I first became a UU. The closest church or fellowship to where I lived then was 200 miles away! That's why I started out in CLF, the Church of the Larger Fellowship, mentioned in the OP.
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Re: Unitarian Universalism--info and argument

Post by Sakhaiva on Thu Sep 17, 2009 6:58 pm

Outstanding posts Dot, thank you.

I'm going to be visiting a UU church this weekend (I used to attend a really neat one in Los Angeles several years ago.... the building looked like an onion.)

This UU church here just finished construction of their "new building" so I feel safe (the fund raising is done, lol) I must say that I was impressed that they went 'green' with their construction (part of the Green Sanctuary Program as administered by the UU Ministry for Earth and with the help of the United States Green Building Council) Of all the new churches being built in this area, the UU church is the only one I know of that went green.

(I had resisted going as it's about 10 miles (18 minute drive) from my house... which seems sorta foolish when put in perspective.)
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Re: Unitarian Universalism--info and argument

Post by DotNotInOz on Fri Sep 18, 2009 3:47 pm

Glad you like them, Sakhaiva.

Ten miles away? Wow! I wish I had one that close. The UU church where I used to live was a little over 7 miles from my house, so the fact that the closest to where I am now is 19 miles seems like a helluva trip.

My former church built green, too. In fact, I conducted the "green features" tour for the Earth Day fair held there the ED before this past one. I learned a lot preparing to lead the tours!

Give us a followup report if you'd care to, would you? Might help people get a better sense of how diverse UU churches can be.
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Re: Unitarian Universalism--info and argument

Post by TigersEyeDowsing on Fri Sep 18, 2009 3:53 pm

My church was about a 40-minute drive, highway all the way thankfully.

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Re: Unitarian Universalism--info and argument

Post by DotNotInOz on Fri Sep 18, 2009 4:02 pm

I've found myself thinking lately that it's possible I've grown in other directions than UUism.

I keep finding myself thinking anymore of various things I don't like about it, many of which I wasn't aware of in my initial years of being a UU.

It does bother me that there's so little consistency from one church to another. You just can't tell until you attend a UU church for awhile if it's "flavor" suits you.

The problem is that most of the liberal religions are like that from what I've heard; UU is the only one I've had any actual experience with.

But I know I wouldn't be comfortable in a creedal church. I wouldn't feel honest claiming to believe things I simply don't believe. Some say, "Well, just consider God a metaphor for something you CAN believe in like AA's higher power," but I have trouble doing that when God is presented as an actual entity with all these characteristics that don't make sense to me.

Kind of a conflict. Anyone else had that experience?
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Re: Unitarian Universalism--info and argument

Post by TigersEyeDowsing on Fri Sep 18, 2009 4:10 pm

Yes. I adore the Episcopal people, and a local Episcopal church and have wrestled with the idea of going. I just can't though. I can't sit through the liturgies etc. and things I don't believe in, when the people around me are monotheistic. Especially when I have my own, different, religion. So I just visit in the off-hours and have spiritual time alone.

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Re: Unitarian Universalism--info and argument

Post by DotNotInOz on Fri Sep 18, 2009 4:24 pm

I wish that Transcendentalists still existed as a group. That's about the only "ism" I've found that fits me.

Guess I'll just have to commune with Emerson's essays now and again as well as with nature itself.
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Re: Unitarian Universalism--info and argument

Post by TigersEyeDowsing on Fri Sep 18, 2009 4:34 pm

We're just very diversified now... society got a lot more complicated, so we have a lot more divisions. Both our paths came out of Transcendentalism but in a yellow wood... yeah.

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Re: Unitarian Universalism--info and argument

Post by Sakhaiva on Fri Sep 18, 2009 4:58 pm

Thanks for asking my feedback DOT; I'll be happy to give a report. From what I've read/heard online, they are very diversified, with sermon topics ranging from Beatrix Potter (an Early Preservationist) to "building a beloved community." They have a Zen group and a Humanist group that meets on the campus plus they seem to be very active with Multi-Faith Exchange. Smile
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Re: Unitarian Universalism--info and argument

Post by TigersEyeDowsing on Fri Sep 18, 2009 5:18 pm

Hey, it sounds really nice.

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Re: Unitarian Universalism--info and argument

Post by DotNotInOz on Fri Sep 18, 2009 6:03 pm

The church I've been going to is rather unusual in my experience.

I nearly fell off my chair the Sunday that the minister-in-training mentioned reincarnation within the context of a sermon on a UU perception of afterlife.

Neither of the other two UU churches of which I've been a member EVER mentioned it. Both were predominantly atheists-agnostics-secular humanists, and that contingency kept a pretty tight lid on mention of anything "woo-woo UU," which basically meant anything traditionally spiritual except in an "Isn't it quaint?" sense.

In fact, much of the reason why the interim minister left my last church sooner than originally planned was that he alluded to the Bible and other scriptures too often to suit the AASH's.

It bothers me a LOT when any one contingency in a UU church controls what beliefs are represented in services to the exclusion of those they disapprove of. But, I've harped on that elsewhere, so I won't rant on it again here.
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Re: Unitarian Universalism--info and argument

Post by Willowcreek70633 on Fri Sep 18, 2009 9:17 pm

bounce Speaking of church's here. Guess what I did this past weekend @ my National Guard Drill?? I attended Protestant Service! Hysterical Really & truly the truth be known, we finally received a Chaplin in our Brigade! I met the man last months drill & me & 2 friends of mine went out to dinner with him. He's a Baptist preacher & a really nice "joe". We discussed religion a little bit last month, & he knows I'm a Pagan, & follow old ways. Out of respect for this new member of our unit, I attended his service.
What was cute was he had some little preschool songs ( started helping him out with the singing before the other 10 people were comfortable enough to join in) & his service talk was about trust in a relationship.

Sometimes gang when you visit churches of your own free will you just have to "plug in silently" your name(s) for the All/spirit. What doesn't fit into your belief system you listen politely & toss it out where applicable. If you look hard & long enough its not how its said, or who says it. But just like this past weekend, trust in a relationship (who evers) NEEDED to be addressed. We are being deployed beginning of Jan 10!
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Re: Unitarian Universalism--info and argument

Post by MaineCaptain on Fri Sep 18, 2009 9:51 pm

You know Willow you are right.(Of course you knew that Razz)

ANy hoo. I used to go to church with a girl friend, to be with her since Sunday was the only day I would get to really see her. Well I am not Pentecostal, So With the exception of some sermons which made me what to yell,

I would simply meditate on my own deities. And many of the songs were adaptable for me, at least in my head

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Re: Unitarian Universalism--info and argument

Post by Willowcreek70633 on Fri Sep 18, 2009 10:11 pm

Yes, call us Green Witches crazy or foolish, but we pretty much have fun where ever we end up! Shuffle
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Re: Unitarian Universalism--info and argument

Post by MaineCaptain on Fri Sep 18, 2009 10:19 pm

Yes we do, don't we? Very Happy

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Re: Unitarian Universalism--info and argument

Post by Gorm_Sionnach on Fri Sep 18, 2009 10:22 pm

Its always sparkles and sunshine isn't it

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Re: Unitarian Universalism--info and argument

Post by MaineCaptain on Fri Sep 18, 2009 10:26 pm

Gorm_Sionnach wrote:Its always sparkles and sunshine isn't it
Gorm, do you have some one to smack you?

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Re: Unitarian Universalism--info and argument

Post by Willowcreek70633 on Fri Sep 18, 2009 10:49 pm

Very Happy Gorm....Yes, its what you make it! sunny Next. Wink
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Re: Unitarian Universalism--info and argument

Post by TigersEyeDowsing on Fri Sep 18, 2009 10:54 pm

Willowcreek70633 wrote: Gorm....Yes, its what you make it! Next.

It is what it is. Very Happy

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Re: Unitarian Universalism--info and argument

Post by Gorm_Sionnach on Fri Sep 18, 2009 11:55 pm

MaineCaptain wrote:
Gorm_Sionnach wrote:Its always sparkles and sunshine isn't it
Gorm, do you have some one to smack you?

You have a Nickleback sig, and I'm the one who needs a smack?

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