General Assembly: GA Presentations: Presenter views and opinions do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the UUA.

Saturday Morning Worship, General Assembly 2001

General Assembly 2001 Event 3002

Worship Leader: Rev. Dr. Sarah Oelberg, minister, the Nora Church, Unitarian Universalist, Hanska, MN
(Cleveland, OH—June 23, 2001) Morning worship began in the Cleveland Convention Center's Public Auditorium with a prelude by Gladys Rudolph, choir director/organist of the First Unitarian Church in Toledo, OH. The chalice was lit by service participant Daniel Schatz in honor of the 40th anniversary of the Unitarian Universalist Association's (UUA's) formation. The congregants were invited to sing the opening hymn, "We Build on Life's Wonders" (to the tune of "We Gather Together").

The service celebrant, Rev. Dr. Sarah Oelberg, and Schatz led a responsive reading, which was followed by a stirring interlude, "This House," written and performed by David Schafer, a member of the Unitarian Society of New Haven, CT.

Oelberg's homily, "Joining Together," reflected on the events which led up to the formation of the Unitarian Universalist Association, a consolidation of the American Unitarian Association and the Unitarian Church of America. Read the complete text (PDF, 7 pages) Oelberg said, "Since then, I think we have seen many changes and benefits from these two denominations—which may have been more different than we realized—casting their lots together.

"Universalism was based on hope and the love of God...they have taught the Unitarians to loosen up and be more accepting of diversity. Unitarians had stood on the foundation of freedom, reason and tolerance...which did not always extend to people who didn't agree with them...Unitarians were more organized top down, but Universalists had more congregational liberty...the mix has been good.

Oelberg continued, "I think it is because of the different attitudes the Universalists brought to the table that we have a more nuanced theology and are as accepting as we are. Most Unitarian churches were and still are in cities and suburbs...the one I serve in a small town, is a notable exception. Some of the Universalist churches were in small towns and rural areas, and because some of its members were farmers, fisherman, and so on, we have received a deeper understanding of the love of the environment and ecology than we might have otherwise.

"In this fortieth year since merger, the strength of the two parts has allowed us to meld in many is indeed a time to celebrate our joining together."

The closing hymn, "We Sing the Joy of Living" (words by Deane Starr), was sung in celebration of the tradition that is today's UUA.

Reported by Deborah Weiner.

Order of Service

Rev. Marta Flanagan; June 25, 2001; Cleveland, OH

Please observe a respectful silence as you enter the worship space for the Prelude. Thank you.


Gladys Rudolph

Opening Words

Lighting of the Chalice


"We Build On Life's Wonders"
F .A. Webster

Responsive Reading

From Rev. Dana McLean Greeley, first President of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA)



"This House "
David Schafer


"Joining Together" 
Rev.Sarah Oelberg


"We Sing The Joy Of Living"
Deanne Starr

Closing Words

Participants and Acknowledgements

Rev. Dr. Sarah Oelberg is the minister of the Nora Church, Unitarian Universalist in Hanska, MN.

Daniel S. Schatz is a ministerial intern with Dr. Oelberg. He is currently serving as half-time minister of the Unitarian Universalist (UU) Fellowship of the Eastern Slopes in Chocorua, NH, and will receive preliminary fellowship tomorrow.

Gladys Rudolph has been choir director and organist for the First Unitarian Church of Toledo, Ohio for over twenty years. Our thanks to Gladys for sharing her gift of music with us

Our thanks to the Rev. Doug Strong for his assistance in designing the cover graphic.

David Schafer wrote the words and music to "This House." He is a member of the Unitarian Society of New Haven in Hamden, CT, a composer and musician by avocation, and a molecular scientist by profession.

The Principles of the Unitarian Universalist Association

We, the member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association, covenant to affirm and promote:

  • The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
  • Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
  • Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
  • A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
  • The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
  • The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
  • Respect for the interdependent web or all existence of which we are a part.

The living tradition which we share draws from many sources:

  • Direct experience or that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life;
  • 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;
  • Wisdom from the world's religions which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life;
  • Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God's love by loving our neighbors as ourselves;
  • Humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science, and warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit.
  • Spiritual teachings of earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle or life and (instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.

Grateful for the religious pluralism which enriches and ennobles our faith, we are inspired to deepen our understanding and expand our vision. As free congregations we enter into this covenant, promising to one another our mutual trust and support.