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The beginning of atonement is the sense of its necessity. — Lord Byron


The level symbolizes the balance we need to restore when we make a mistake. In this session, there are opportunities to engage in reflection about the meaning of "at-one-ment." Possible reflections may include the difficulty of acknowledging mistakes and the sense of relief in acknowledging a mistake. There is time for participants to engage in acknowledgement of both personal and community mistakes. The story children heard the story, "W.H.G. Carter and A Step Toward Racial Reconciliation," which told about a contemporary Unitarian Universalist congregation's effort to atone for a wrong done to an African American Unitarian minister by an earlier generation of Unitarians.

We emphasized the feeling of being "at one" when there is reconciliation.

We focused on atonement to illustrate that:

  • Unitarian Universalism is a faith that believes in learning from our mistakes and working to make things right
  • Unitarian Universalism seeks acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations (third Principle)
  • Unitarian Universalism heeds the 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 (second Source).


The congregations in Cincinnati apologized for a wrong that was 60 years old. They apologized to the descendants of the person who was wronged. Discuss the story together.

  • Do you think that the congregations did the right thing?
  • What would you have done, if you belonged to that congregation, when a wrong from the past was discovered?
  • What things might you do when you need to restore balance, at-one-ness, in your life?

You may wish to talk about the difficulties of apologies and the feeling of "oneness" when there is heartfelt reconciliation. Are there any lingering family disputes that might be reviewed with an eye toward reconciliation?



Prayers can provide a helpful context and structure for confronting situation that call for atonement. You may decide to create and use a personal daily prayer including the following three parts: something you are thankful for, something you are sorry for, and something you are glad about. A prayer might end with words such as "I am a Unitarian Universalist with a mind that thinks, a heart that loves, and hands that are ready to serve."

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