Who are Unitarian Universalists?
Unitarian Universalism is a liberal religion born of the Jewish and Christian traditions. We believe that personal experience, conscience and reason should be the final authorities in religion. In the end religious authority lies not in a book or person or institution, but in ouselves.
As Unitarian Universalists, we foster the Unitarian Universalist Principles. We encourage each individual to determine his or her own creed and standard of theological belief. Toward those purposes, we are committed to creating a loving religious community through worship, study, service and fellowship while honoring diversity and respecting the inherent worth and dignity of each individual. We strive to render enlightened service to the various communities of which we are a part. We respect the interdependent web of all living things.
How did the movement come to have such a long name?
In North America, Unitarianism and Universalism developed separately. Universalist congregations began to be established in the 1770s. Other congregations, many established earlier, began to take the Unitarian name in the 1820s. Over the decades the two groups converged in their liberal emphasis and style, and in 1961 they merged to become the Unitarian Universalist Association.
What do UUs believe about God?
Some Unitarian Universalists are nontheists and do not find language about God useful. The faith of other Unitarian Universalists in God may be profound, though among these, too, talk of God may be restrained. Why?
The word God is much abused. Far too often, the word seems to refer to a kind of granddaddy in the sky or a super magician. To avoid confusion, many Unitarian Universalists are more apt to speak of “reverence for life” (in the words of Albert Schweitzer, a Unitarian), the spirit of love or truth, the holy, or the gracious. Many also prefer such language because it is inclusive; it is used with integrity by theist and nontheist members.
Whatever our theological persuasion, Unitarian Universalists generally agree that the fruits of religious belief matter more than beliefs about religion-even about God. So we usually speak more of the fruits: gratitude for blessings, worthy aspirations, the renewal of hope, and service on behalf of justice.
What about the Bible?
We do not hold the Bible, or any other account of human experience, to be either an infallible guide or the exclusive source of truth. Much biblical material is mythical or legendary. Not that it should be discarded for that reason! Rather, it should be treasured for what it is. We believe that we should read the Bible as we read other books (or the newspaper) with imagination and a critical eye.
We also respect the sacred literature of other religions. Contemporary works of science, art, and social commentary are valued as well. We hold, in the words of an old liberal formulation, that “revelation is not sealed.” Unitarian Universalists aspire to truth as wide as the world-we look to find truth anywhere, universally.
What are your church services like?
At First Unitarian Universalist Church of Stockton, our services typically consist of a chalice lighting, several readings, a youth-focused story, a time for people to share their joys and concerns, a choral anthem, time of silence, several hymns, and a sermon. The format is very similar to more mainline Protestant churches, though the materials and sources that we draw from tend to be broader. We also tend to have intergenerational services (where our youth stay in the sanctuary for the entire service) about once per month that are a bit more free form and higher energy.
What do people wear to this church?
You may dress up or dress casually. People wear whatever makes them feel comfortable on the occasion. For Sunday services, adults wear everything from suits to jeans or shorts. Children are encouraged to wear clothes appropriate to the activities in which they will be engaged.
What do children do during the services?
After the chalice lighting, an opening hymn, the Words of Affirmation, and a youth-focused story, many of the children generally go to the Cottage for age-specific Religious Education classes and activities.
May my child stay with me during the service?
Of course, we just ask that you be considerate of others if your child becomes restless.
Is childcare available?
Yes, childcare is available during all services.
Will I be welcomed in this congregation?
Yes, everyone is welcome, whatever your age, ethnicity, race, sex, affectional or sexual orientation, physical challenge, religion, business connections, or political affiliation.
Do members of the congregation have varied beliefs?
Yes, diversity is common among Unitarian Universalists, and this church contains people with all manner of beliefs. We are united by our belief in the importance of accepting one another and encouraging spiritual development, guided by freedom, reason and conscience.
What is required to become a member of this church?
Click here for information about becoming a member.
How can I get involved at the church?
There are many ways to start getting connected. Here are a few suggestions:
- When you arrive on Sunday, say hello to our membership coordinator, Barbara Bowers, or one of our friendly greeters.
- Fill out a visitor card and add yourself to our newsletter mailing list.
- Try out a class or a group that interests you.
- Visit our Church Programs & Groups page and the monthly calendar to find out more about what is happening this month.
- Contact our minister, Rev. Laura Horton-Ludwig. She would be glad to answer your questions and offer you assistance, especially in times of distress.
For more information about Unitarian Universalist beliefs, the Unitarian Universalist Association website has more frequently asked questions and answers.
For more information about First Unitarian Universalist Church of Stockton, please contact us.