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Welcome to Our Global Faith Video
The “Welcome to Our Global Faith” video is designed to introduce the global nature of Unitarian Universalism to new members of Unitarian Universalist (UU) congregations. Leaders of new member classes or orientation sessions can include it as part of their curricula. Congregations may find it useful in other contexts as well.
The following Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) is designed to supplement the short and introductory information in the video.
1. Are our faith partners around the world members of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA)?
With only a few exceptions, they are not. The global Unitarian, Universalist and Unitarian Universalist movement is organized largely by national U/U “judicatories.” For example, the Transylvania Unitarian Church is the representative “judicatory” of Unitarianism in Romania. And, the Canadian Unitarian Council has the same role in Canada. The UUA is the U/U judicatory for the United States.
There are a few important exceptions, however. The British General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches is, for example, the Unitarian judicatory for the UK – however, it has a few member congregations outside of the UK. The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) also has a few member congregations outside of its judicatory area including largely expatriate congregations in San Miguel de Allende (Mexico), Paris (France) as well as the Unitarian Churches in Auckland (New Zealand) and Adelaide (Australia). The largest UUA member congregation outside of the USA is the UU Church of the Philippines (approx. 2000 members).
2. How do U/U judicatories around the world cooperate with and support each other?
The most important organization supporting our global interdependence as judicatories is the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists (ICUU). The ICUU’s mission is to:
- Build relationships through communication and collaboration;
- Develop spiritual community among member groups and their leaders;
- Identify and nurture prospective and emerging groups;
- Foster our U-U faith for mutual inspiration, development and growth.
Many judicatories also have both new and historic one-to-one relationships with each other. For example, the UUA has been in close relationship with Unitarians in the UK, Transylvania, North East India and many other countries for more than a century. More recent relationships have been formed between the UUA and Unitarian Universalists judicatories in Uganda and Burundi, among other places. In each of these examples, the ICUU has played and continues to play an essential role.
3. What is a “Partner Church?”
The modern “Partner Church” movement celebrated its 20th anniversary in July 2010 during a special conference in Kolozsvar, Transylvania hosted by the Transylvania Unitarian Church. This event recognized the uniquely transformative influence of close relationships between local UU congregations in North America and local UU congregations in other parts of the world. The original partner church relationships were developed between UU congregations in North America and Unitarian churches in Transylvania, but since then the partnership movement has expanded into other countries, including Hungary, the Czech Republic, India, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Uganda, Nigeria, Burundi, and beyond. Partner churches create mutually supportive relationships with varying focuses agreed upon by the partners. The UU Partner Church Council—an independent organization—is the key organizer of the partner church movement for North American congregations and individuals.
4. How did Unitarianism begin in India, or the Philippines or Nigeria?
The stories of how U/Uism began in any particular context are diverse and inspiring. Many of these stories are compiled in the ICUU’s “The Garden of Unitarian Universalism” curriculum. Please contact the UUA’s International Resources Office for other published materials.
5. What is the “International Association for Religious Freedom (IARF)”?
The IARF was founded in 1900 in Boston, Massachusetts and originally named the “International Association of Unitarian and Other Liberal Thinkers and Workers.” For many decades it was the primary organization for Unitarians and their liberal Christian colleagues around the world to connect with each other. Later in its history IARF became broadly interfaith with Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Moslem, Jewish, Shinto, and many other faith communities providing leadership and support to the organization. Many of the UUA’s closest interfaith relationships have their origins in the IARF.
Today the IARF holds a World Congress every four years (the next one in 2014), supports the efforts of regional IARF affiliates, organizes Human Rights Education programs, and has a representative at the United Nation Office in Geneva.
6. What is Rissho Kosei-kai? What is the Tsubaki Grand Shrine?
The UUA has historic and close ties with many non-UU religious movements. But, two of our closest interfaith partners are in Japan: Rissho Kosei-kai and Tsubaki Grand Shrine. Rissho Kosei-kai is a lay-Buddhist movement with a strong commitment to World Peace. Tsubaki Grand Shrine is one of the most historic Shinto shrines in the world. Together, we are involved in a wide array of international interfaith activities.
7. What is the UU Holdeen India Program (UUHIP)?
The Unitarian Universalist Holdeen India Program (UUHIP) is a department of the UUA that works with key leaders and organizations of India's most marginalized and disadvantaged peoples in their struggle to secure human rights and economic and social justice. UUHIP focus on those peoples excluded or oppressed on the basis of gender, caste, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation, especially dalits (untouchables), adivasis (tribals), migrant, bonded and child laborers, domestic and home-based workers, and scavengers. UUHIP supports their efforts to participate fully in the social, economic and political life of India.
8. What is the UU United Nations Office? the UU Service Committee? Project Harvest Hope? the International Convocation of UU Women? or other UU organizations involved in international work?
Each of these independent organizations are focused on diverse kinds of international work. They often collaborate with each other, and the UUA is in close relationship with each of them:
- The UU United Nations Office (UU-UNO) represents Unitarianism at the United Nations in New York
- The UU Service Committee advances human rights and social justice around the world, partnering with those who confront unjust power structures and mobilizing to challenge oppressive policies. It is headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
- Project Harvest Hope is committed to nurturing the Székeley spirit and traditions of rural life in the Unitarian villages of Transylvania. Through pilgrimage and partnership, shared faith and common purpose, we are forging relationships of love, trust and mutual respect.
- The International Convocation of UU Women’s purpose is to create a community of Unitarian Universalists and womenof other progressive faiths dedicated through action to building global partnerships to enrich women’s lives.
- A list of additional UU organizations focused on international work is available.