Our basic Unitarian Universalist tenet is freedom of belief. Unlike most other religious traditions, consent to a particular creed or statement of belief is not required. Instead, our religion maintains that each person has an obligation to seek truth, as best they understand, and to follow that truth wherever it may lead them.
Our faith has historic roots in the Jewish and Christian traditions. However, today’s UUs may identify with Atheism, Agnosticism, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Humanism, Judaism, Paganism, Wicca or with other philosophical or religious traditions and hold wide-ranging opinions on topics like the afterlife, God, and scripture. What unites us is our acceptance of diverse spiritualities and our commitment to making the world a better place for every living thing.
Our Values: Seven Principles of UUism
While we have no creed that all members must adopt as their own spiritual belief, each member of the congregation supports and upholds these Principles, which draw from the six religious sources listed in the next section and form the backbone of our religious community.
We affirm and promote:
1st: The inherent worth and dignity of every person
2nd: Justice, equity and compassion in human relations
3rd: Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations
4th: A free, responsible search for truth and meaning
5th: The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large
6th: The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all
7th: Respect for the interdependent web of all existence, of which we are a part
Our Sources of Faith
Unitarian Universalists draw upon many sources:
Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life.
Words and deeds of prophetic women and men which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love.
Wisdom from the world’s religions which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life.
Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God’s love by loving our neighbors as ourselves.
Humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science, and warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit.
Spiritual teachings of earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.
Our Symbol: The Flaming Chalice
Many Unitarian Universalist congregations light a flame inside a chalice at the opening of worship services. The flaming chalice, the official symbol of our denomination, unites our members in worship and symbolizes the spirit of our work towards compassion, justice, and peace.Hans Deutsch, an Austrian artist, first brought together the chalice and the flame during World War II. When Nazis invaded Paris in 1940, Deutsch was forced to flee his home. He eventually ended up in Portugal, where he met the Reverend Charles Joy. Rev. Joy was the Executive Director of the Unitarian Service Committee (USC), which was founded to assist Eastern Europeans who needed to escape persecution.
During his work with the USC, Deutsch was asked by Rev. Joy to create a symbol for the organization, something to give dignity and importance to the organization and, at the same time, symbolize the spirit of its work. With pencil and ink he drew a chalice with a flame.
The story of Hans Deutsch reminds us that the symbol of a flaming chalice stood in the beginning for a life of service. When Deutsch designed the flaming chalice, he had never seen a Unitarian or Universalist church or heard a sermon. What he had seen was faith in action—people who were willing to risk all for others in a time of urgent need. To Deutsch, the image had connotations of sacrifice and love. Unitarian Universalists today have many different interpretations of the image.