Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: What Moves Us: A Unitarian Universalist Theology Program for Adults


Part of What Moves Us

As a longtime religious educator and a parent of three young adult Unitarian Universalists, I have long been aware of the need for faith development materials that provide a framework for deep and longtime Unitarian Universalists to engage in theological reflection, not as an intellectual exercise, but as a process of meaning-making that equips one for living in the world as a Unitarian Universalist person of faith.

And here it is: a program that explores the life experiences of both historic and contemporary Unitarian Universalist theologians, highlighting that which caused in them a change of heart, a new direction, new hope, and a deeper understanding of their own liberal faith. These workshops offer participants a chance to engage with and bring their personal experiences to bear on the very questions explored by each theologian in turn. The program offers a pathway for developing not only one's own personal theology but also one's deep understanding of the threads of our Unitarian, Universalist, and Unitarian Universalist theological heritage.

As a Tapestry of Faith curriculum for adults, What Moves Us weaves Unitarian Universalist values, Principles and Sources with four strands: spiritual development, ethical development, Unitarian Universalist identity development, and faith development:

Spiritual Development. In Everyday Spiritual Practice, Scott Alexander defines spirituality as our relationship with the Spirit of Life, however we understand it. Our spirituality is our deep, reflective and expressed response to the awe, wonder, joy, pain and grief of being alive. Tapestry of Faith programs seek to form children, youth, and adults who:

  • Know they are lovable beings of infinite worth, imbued with powers of the soul and obligated to use their gifts, talents and potentials in the service of life
  • Appreciate the value of spiritual practice as a means of deepening faith and integrating beliefs and values with everyday life.

Ethical Development. When we develop our ethics, we develop our moral values—our sense of what is right and wrong. We also enhance our ability to act on those values, overcoming oppressions and despair. Tapestry of Faith programs seek to form children, youth, and adults who:

  • Realize they are moral agents, capable of making a difference in the lives of other people, challenging structures of social and political oppression and promoting the health and well-being of the planet
  • Accept that they are responsible for the stewardship and creative transformation of their religious heritage and community of faith in the service of diversity, justice and compassion.

Unitarian Universalist Identity Development.Participation in a Unitarian Universalist congregation does not automatically create a Unitarian Universalist identity. Personal identification with Unitarian Universalism begins when individuals start to call themselves Unitarian Universalist and truly feel a part of a Unitarian Universalist congregation or community. Identity is strengthened as individuals discover and resonate with the stories, symbols and practices of Unitarian Universalism. Tapestry of Faith programs develop children, youth, and adults who:

  • Affirm they are part of a Unitarian Universalist religious heritage and community of faith that has value and provides resources for living
  • Recognize the need for community, affirming the importance of families, relationships and connections between and among generations
  • Accept that they are responsible for the stewardship and creative transformation of their religious heritage and community of faith in the service of diversity, justice and compassion.

Faith Development. When we develop in faith, we develop our heads and our hearts as a transformative way of life. We become meaning-makers who stand on the side of love. Faith is about embracing the heart of life's transforming possibilities and growing in our sense of being at home in the universe as part of the interdependent web of life. Faith is practice of right relationship with others that inspires trust and care. While faith has aspects that are internal and personal, it is best supported and sustained in a community with shared symbols, stories, traditions and values. Unitarian Universalist faith development emphasizes each person's religious journey, each person's lifelong process of bringing head, heart and hands to seeking and knowing ultimate meaning as part of beloved religious community.

Each What Moves Us workshop weaves these strands together, to help participants grow in their identity and faith as Unitarian Universalists as they find the grounding to live out their values in the world. May these values come to life through your facilitation of these workshops, in collaboration with those who bring their stories, their spirits, their minds and their hearts in the process of engaging our theological heritage and making meaning for themselves, with others, and in the world as ongoing spiritual practice.

— Gail Forsyth-Vail, Unitarian Universalist Association Adult Programs Director