We need not think alike to love alike. — Francis David
To different minds, the same world is a hell, and a heaven. — Joseph Priestley
Unitarian Universalism finds strength in explicitly welcoming diversity. It is well known that many of us bring identities and beliefs that are Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, Humanist or Pagan to our Unitarian Universalist religious lives. There are also many lifelong UUs, and UUs with neither training in nor attachment to another theology or faith heritage.
In our congregations, however, diversity of faith heritage and belief is not always visible. Yes, many congregations celebrate holidays and draw from religious practices of a wide variety of faiths. But, do we actively engage and affirm each individual's faith heritage and personal religious beliefs?
This session lifts up our denomination's pluralism of faith heritage and theological belief for participants to examine and affirm within themselves, among the group, in their families and in the congregation. Affirming one another's meaningful faith traditions, theological questions and beliefs is a way to affirm one another as truth-seekers—our fourth Principle. It also expresses our third Principle, that we accept every individual and encourage their spiritual growth.
The session introduces the six Sources that support and nurture Unitarian Universalist faith. Children will explore how the Sources embrace a variety of faith traditions, including Unitarian Universalism itself. A story about Thomas Starr King illustrates that to follow one's own faith path is not only allowed but a core value in Unitarian Universalism.
Faith Heritage Letter to Parents
Children will need information about their family's faith heritage to be well prepared for this session. Some may wish to include photos or other items from home in their Window/Mirror panel or a Faith Family Tree (Faith in Action or Alternate Activity 2). Adapt and distribute Leader Resource 1, Faith Heritage Letter to Parents, at least two weeks ahead. During the session that precedes this one, remind children to ask their parents about their faith heritage.
This session will:
- Affirm children as religious beings, with individual religious beliefs and identities
- Introduce the concept of faith heritage as a legacy from parents/caregivers that may shift its role in one's life, as faith develops
- Demonstrate that Unitarian Universalism encourages and guides us to examine our own beliefs, where our beliefs come from, and how those beliefs continue to mesh with our developing faith in an ongoing, individual search for truth and meaning
- Introduce the six Unitarian Universalist Sources; demonstrate how they guide us to look to diverse faith traditions as we develop and affirm our individual and collective faith.
- Identify their individual faith heritage and some of their beliefs, and explore how these are connected and reflected in their lives as Unitarian Universalists
- Learn about major faith traditions represented in Unitarian Universalism and identify symbols associated with Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Buddhism
- Recognize theological and faith heritage diversity in the group and in the congregation
- Understand how embracing diverse faith heritages and beliefs in our congregations honors our fourth Principle, the free and responsible search for truth and meaning, and our third Principle, acceptance of one another and encouragement of spiritual growth
- Learn about Thomas Starr King, who brought a Universalist faith heritage with him when his faith journey carried him into Unitarianism.