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Introduction, Workshop 2: Unitarian Universalism: The Journey Starts at Home

In "Building Bridges," a Tapestry of Faith program

We need not think alike to love alike. — Francis David

May your life preach more loudly than your lips. — William Ellery Channing

Unitarianism and Universalism are two faiths that emerged in the United States in the 18th century. Their theological roots are much older. The Opening summarizes the journey that brought these movements together as the Unitarian Universalist Association in 1961. Perhaps you are familiar with "As Tranquil Streams," Hymn 145 in Singing the Living Tradition, which was written to celebrate the merger. The lyrics speak to the strength and prophetic power of our faith.

Youth who have experienced Coming of Age will arrive with grounding in both Unitarian Universalism and their personal faith. A history of participation in a UU religious education program is also valuable preparation. Building Bridges clarifies and strengthens participants' faith while increasing their understanding of others'.

Unitarian Universalists are, as one bumper sticker says, "Different People, Different Beliefs, One Faith." We draw wisdom from Unitarian Universalism, which in turn draws wisdom from many sources, including world religions, secular sources, reason, and our own experiences. However, it is important that young people understand that although we hold different ideas about God or what is holy, we do not "believe anything we want." We share ethical and moral values, and a commitment to try to live them in our families, communities, and world. One expression of shared values is the seven Principles covenanted by the congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association. After Activity 3, post our Principles in the meeting space so you can refer to them during group discussions.

Unitarian Universalists also believe:

  • "Deeds not creeds." What we do in love is more important than what beliefs we hold.
  • This life matters. Whatever happens after death, this life is the one we know now, the one we are responsible for.
  • We expect our religious beliefs and understandings to change throughout our lives; we look to our faith communities to support our evolving faith.
  • Religions are cultural creations of the societies in which they develop. While all religions address the same, basic human need for making meaning of life, they offer different answers, and those differences matter.

Youth know that many religions do have a creed and a concept of the divine that adherents share. They also know that some adherents in many religions claim theirs is the only true faith. In this workshop, some youth may express that they find our theological freedom superior to any theological doctrine; others may seem to yearn for the clarity and reassurance of a set creed. Help youth feel gratitude for our faith which offers Principles to guide us while calling us to appreciate the faith of others. There is neither room nor basis for assertions of religious superiority. Point out that when participants bring their own Unitarian Universalist values, beliefs, and Principles to this program, they bring minds and hearts open to understanding and respect for people of many faiths.

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

Last updated on Thursday, October 27, 2011.

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