What is a UU congregation? Who is it for?

Rev. Karen Madrone, July 28, 2023

These are questions that long time UUers struggle explaining to visitors to UU congregations. People come to our congregations for many reasons. Sometimes it’s because they want a space for their children to learn about religion in a non-dogmatic way. Sometimes it’s because they no longer want to be part of a former restrictive religion and want to find out what it might be like to be in a faith that encourages them to learn and grow. Sometimes they had no faith background at all but feel the need for community so they are willing to take a chance on something new.

Unitarian Universalism has historically welcomed people who wanted a faith where they could use their whole minds and their hearts. Unitarians were focused on the logic of faith. They were folks who decided to no longer believe in the Trinity, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, because they felt like it didn’t make sense and they believed that there was no scriptural support for this concept. Universalists, how UUCF itself was founded which is why the name begins with the word Universalist, believed that God would not condemn people to hell for mistakes made in their lifetimes. They could not believe that a loving God would make these kinds of judgments so they began to spread the word about a “no hell” God and insisted that theirs was a “no hell” church.

In 1961, after many years of discussion, these two groups decided to merge and become one faith. Since then the concept of Unitarian has become interpreted more broadly from “One God” to “All are One” and the concept of Universalist has become interpreted more broadly from “God loves All” to “All are Loved.” These ideas of oneness of all people and having a focus on love for all people permeates through our principles and values today, sixty-two years later. While everything changes and evolves, the oneness of everything and love for all people continue to be the core we live from.

So who are we for? We are for people who want to be together with people across many different religious beliefs without centering their own as the most important. We are for people who want to learn how to love others with different ways of being in the world. We are for people who want to grow, learn, and practice building a community even when there is conflict. In a UU community, we practice love, forgiveness, making amends, and building community.

Community is the most important thing.

Unitarian Universalism is a kind of practical laboratory of creating, covenanting, making mistakes, and re-covenanting. Our hope is that by practicing these skills together, we can take these skills to other parts of our lives and build the larger world we wish to see that is inclusive of all.

All are welcome!