Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Riddle and Mystery: A Program on the Big Questions for Grade 6

Leader Resource 2: About Unitarian Universalism

Some people ask if Unitarian Universalism is really a religion. The answer is "yes." Unitarian Universalism is a community of people engaged in search for answers to big questions — religious questions. That is what a religion does. And a religion helps people decide what is right and wrong; helps people make meaning of life; helps people find purpose. Unitarian Universalism does all of these.

Unitarian Universalism is a community of more than 220,000 people — children, youth and adults — gathered in congregations in the United States. [[Many more adults in the U.S. who are not members of congregations also say they are UUs. And more Unitarians, Universalists, or Unitarian Universalists live in other countries.]

Unitarian Universalism is a creedless religion. There is no written creed that all members must accept as truth. But UUs share a great many beliefs and values.

UUs have seven great Principles and six wonderful Sources (seven counting our own Unitarian and Universalist history and heritage as a Source!).

UUs respect the interdependent web of all existence and believe in the stewardship of all living things and Earth itself. And UUs believe our faith communities make a very special, interconnected web of members and friends.

Unitarian Universalism is a humanistic religion. Some UUs believe in God. All UUs believe humans have great responsibility for our own actions, for all other people and all life, and for what happens to the world and universe.

UUs celebrate mystery.

UUs trust science and reason and observation. UUs trust themselves.

UU congregations are wonderful places for adults, youth and children to make friends with people of all ages.

UUs proudly embrace all kinds of diversity.

In different UU congregations, you may see very different worship services and find different beliefs.

Unitarian Universalism is a liberal religion. This means it offers freedom of belief, accepts people with very different beliefs, is open to new ideas, and welcomes change in response to new understandings.

Unitarian Universalism supports equal marriage. We think any couples who love each other should be able to get married. We have a hymn that says, "We are gay and straight together."

Ministers are very important in many UU congregations. But ministers do not run the congregations where they work. The members do.

Unitarian Universalism has great religious education programs. One of them is called Our Whole Lives. That is a program about human sexuality.

Unitarian Universalism does not tell kids what to think. However, it does try to help us think.

UUs talk a lot about faith in action. More importantly, UUs try to put their faith into action by living our values and trying to make the world more just.

The Unitarian Universalist Association has its national offices in Boston. (Every UU district also has offices.) The UUA is the national organization of Unitarian Universalist congregations.

More than 1,000 congregations support the UUA. Most try to send members to an annual national meeting called General Assembly. The GA meets in a different city every June.

You need to believe in God — and in a certain concept of God — to belong to some religions. That is not true of Unitarian Universalism. You can be an atheist, an agnostic or a theist and also be a UU.

When you ask UUs a purpose of faith, some say it is to seek truth.

Many people in many religions say they have answers to all the big questions. Many people in the UU religion say they have found friends to join in the search through life's great mysteries.

Christians say the night Jesus was born was a holy night. A UU religious educator named Sophia Lyon Fahs said, "Each night a child is born is a holy night."

Many UU congregations have middle school and high school youth groups. These groups meet together to build community, have fun, do social action, develop leadership, and find out more about Unitarian Universalism. The youth have a lot of say about what their groups do.

Many religions have special symbols. A symbol of Unitarian Universalism is the flaming chalice.

Some UU congregations meet in old-fashioned church buildings. Some meet in very modern buildings of their own design. Some meet in other people's buildings that were made for other purposes.

Not all UU activities take place in congregational buildings. There are many fun UU retreat centers. Some are at the ocean, some are in the mountains and at least one is on an island. Some UU families go to such places every year, often in the summer.

Hebrew and Christian scriptures (the Bible) are important to Unitarian Universalism, just as it is to other religions. But most UUs who read the bible read it for its stories and wisdom. They do not believe it is a literal history of the human race or the only source of answers to our big questions.