Live your Unitarian Universalist values out loud. Make your year-end gift today!

Search Our Site

Page Navigation

Section Banner

The Program (What Moves Us)

Almost universally among [Unitarian Universalists], personal experience is considered the most important source of religious conviction. — Engaging Our Theological Diversity: The May 2005 Commission on Appraisal Report of the Unitarian Universalist Association

When we say "That service was very moving," "I always love that song," "I cry whenever we," "I feel safe here," "My heart is stronger," or "I'm ready for what comes next," we know what moves us as Unitarian Universalists: personal experience. These comments and so many others demonstrate every week that our religious feelings and practices are changing and transforming us through direct personal experience as a major source of our Unitarian Universalist faith. Yet, we often stumble when trying to explain our Unitarian Universalist theology of personal experience to ourselves and to others. We falter when we try to explain how our Unitarian Universalist faith heals, saves, liberates, holds, and moves us to ethical action and compassion.

The What Moves Us program peels back the doctrine-rich theological language that can prevents us from affirming our faith experiences with one another and in the wider world. Through shared direct experiences and reflection exercises, readings and lessons, and ethical deliberations, What Moves Us creates an adult faith journey for Unitarian Universalists who want to preach and teach what they already experience but have not been able to articulate: the spiritual power of our faith.

What Moves Us consists of ten, 90-minute workshops that can be extended to two hours. The facilitator will begin each workshop with a simple story of a Unitarian, Universalist, or Unitarian Universalist forebear, naming the emotion—the change of heart—that moved them to new theological understanding in their liberal religious faith. The stories include:

  • Physician George de Benneville's experience of boundless Divine Love that pulled him from a deep despair and led him to become one of the spiritual fathers of American Universalism.
  • Puritan minister Charles Chauncy's response to the emotionalism of the Great Awakening, which led him to affirm the place of human reason in religious renewal, inadvertently sparking a new American liberal theological tradition.
  • Universalist forebear Hosea Ballou's shift from dejection to happiness when he read, on his own, the book banned by his Baptist preacher father because it had turned his son into an apostate: the Bible.
  • Unitarian forebear William Ellery Channing's celebration of human nature as divine, while at the same time engaging in a struggle to gain control and mastery of his own emotions, believing such struggle to be the route to moral perfection.
  • Transcendentalist forebear Margaret Fuller's personal discovery of an uplifting religion of the heart that turned her into a liberal religious champion for human rights for all people, everywhere.
  • Unitarian Universalist founding religious educator, theologian, and minister Sophia Lyon Fahs' personal experience of the emotional impulses that prompt people to be religious because these feelings are part of human nature "everywhere and apparently always."
  • Beloved 20th-century Unitarian theologian James Luther Adams' encounter with Nazism which led to his understanding that our religious beliefs and our faith are reflected in our actions rather than in our words.
  • Renowned theologian and minister Forrest Church's personal discovery of the liberating feelings of awe and humility that prompted to preach, teach, and write his Universalist Theology for the Twenty-First Century.
  • Celebrated human rights activist, author, minister, and third-generation Unitarian William F. Schulz, whose own personal discovery of a steadfast "organic faith" that can teach all of us how to stay the course through anxious feelings, led him first as president of the Unitarian Universalist Association (1985-1993) and then as president of Amnesty International, USA from 1994-2006, and now as president and CEO of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, to practice his Unitarian Universalist ministry on the world stage.
  • Respected contemporary theologian, writer, and teacher Thandeka, whose discovery that personal experience is the basis of our faith commitments has led her to advocate for building networks of care and compassion in our faith communities through her We Love Beyond Belief program (revthandeka.org) and the spiritual practice of small group ministry.

The selections represent some major theological streams of our faith tradition and display our racial, ethnic, gender, and class diversity.

Some congregations may wish to expand and extend this theology workshop series into a Small Group Ministry program. In Workshop 10, Thandeka, find guidance for taking this next step in Leader Resource 2, Healing Community.

For more information contact web@uua.org.

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Wednesday, October 29, 2014.

Sidebar Content, Page Navigation

 

Updated and Popular

Recently Updated

For Newcomers

Learn more about the Beliefs & Principles of Unitarian Universalism, or read our online magazine, UU World, for features on today's Unitarian Universalists. Visit an online UU church, or find a congregation near you.

Page Navigation