Sharing Global Faith: June: Reflections on Fellowship

By Eric Cherry


On October 24, 1852, Henry David Thoreau scribbled an impassioned admonition in his journal: “What men [sic!] call social virtue, good fellowship – is commonly but the virtue of pigs in a litter which lie close together to keep each other warm.” Indeed, Thoreau’s counsel warns against an empty alliance-making, or forming partnerships that seek to maintain the power imbalances enfolded within the status-quo. The American transcendentalist gives voice to the constant specter of mindless group-submission that haunts the horizon of society-building. And yet, for contemporary Unitarian Universalists, the concept of fellowshipping within community serves as a foundational definition of congregational life. The term evokes notions of communal interest and sentiment, as well as of companionship and friendliness.

In the June issue of Sharing Global Faith, three international U/U leaders articulate compelling visions of what healthy fellowship can embody. Recalling his childhood encounter with Buddhist and Christian teachings, Rev. Nihal Attanayake (Unitarian Universalist Church of the Philippines) finds a reason to rejoice in the art of being in relationship along the spiritual path he has chosen. Mr. Karsten Urban (Deutsche Unitarier) comprehensively details the current state of religion in Germany, while calling on the global U/U fellowship to model a religion of the future. Viewing community-building as a deeply religious act, Rev. Eric Cherry (UUA, Office of International Resources) expresses gratitude for a faith that addresses human neediness. When pieced together, these disparate fragments reveal an image of fellowship that values life, crosses borders and defies cultural conventions – far removed from the appeasement of ‘pigs in a litter’!

We are honored to include contributions from:

Rev. Nihal Attanayake - earned his bachelor’s degree in Theology in 1978 and his master’s in 1995. He was ordained in 1978 in Sri Lanka into the Priesthood of the Anglican Church and served until 1991. At present, Rev. Attanayake serves as the President of the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Philippines. He is married to Luzviminda Magpayo. Their two sons, Delan and Nimal, currently attend College and High School. The UU Philippine Church is composed of 30 Congregations and Fellowships – two in the Metro Manila area, the Capital of the Philippines, and others on Negros Island (the central part of the country).

Mr. Karsten Urban - is an active lay leader of the Deutsche Unitarier (DU, German Unitarian Association) since 1981. He has been president of the German Unitarian Youth Organization (BduJ), several times member of the DU-board and is now chairman of the youngest DU congregation “Donautal” located at Ulm southern Germany, founded in December 2008.
Urban is a University professor of Applied Mathematics. He is married, has 3 children and lives close to Ulm.

Rev. Eric Cherry - has been the Director of International Resources for the Unitarian Universalist Association since August 2007. Previously he served as the parish minister of Unity Church of North Easton, MA (2001-2007) and the UU Fellowship of Burlington, IA (1994-2001). He is a graduate of Earlham College and Meadville/Lombard Theological School. Eric and his wife, Linda, make their home in Mansfield, MA.

Continue to read month's edition!

About the Author

Eric Cherry

Eric was the Director of the UUA’s International Office since August 2007. Prior to this Eric served for 12 years as a parish minister with UU congregations in Burlington, Iowa and N. Easton, Massachusetts. Eric has long been involved in the UU Partner Church movement, serving as the English...


For more information contact .