What about my Beliefs (or non-belief)?
Modern Unitarian Universalism has evolved, and continues to evolve, from its liberal Christian beginnings to become a dialogue between many beliefs and non-belief.
Our roots include:
- The Unitarian Christianity of William Ellery Channing
- Transcendentalism from Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Margaret Fuller and Theodore Parker
- Universal Salvation of Hosea Ballou
- Humanism of the 1930's
- Continuing to be influenced by Feminism, Spirituality, Earth based or Pagan theologies, Eastern religious thought and more.
Read "Are My Beliefs Welcome" here.
UUs really do not believe just anything randomly, but are asked to find their grounding theology and philosophy, or combinations thereof, so they might feel and act truly connected to their deep inner ethics and morals and those espoused in our Principles. Not an easy task! And, to top it off, we ask each other to be in dialogue and understanding with your fellow UUs about their beliefs so we can be practiced in cross cultural communication and understanding... making allies of others with differing beliefs! Hard Work! Not for the faint of heart, but ultimately rewarding and full of hugs!
PS: Have you tried the Belief-O-Matic? Give it a whirl!
Is UU a new religion?
Definitely not! The roots of our denomination go hundreds of years deep. Unitarianism grew out of the early Christian church's debate over how many aspects the divinity has. The dominant view was that the divine has three aspects: father, son and holy spirit. Another view, though, was that it is not helpful to split up the divine into discrete entities, but rather to regard the divine as a single force—with countless manifestations. People who made that claim became known as Unitarians, for their belief in a single unit of divinity.
Unitarianism became a serious religious force in early Poland and Transylvania, and though suppressed violently, its influence grew in early Protestantism and crossed the ocean to the American colonies. As the Calvanist Puritans and Pilgrims churches matured many came to more liberal "unitarian" belief. With the advent of Biblical criticism and rational thought of the European Enlightenment, the American Transcendentalism movement, and eventually Humanism, modern Unitarianism was born.
Universalism, or the belief that God was all forgiving and would provide universal salvation, was also present from the beginning of Christianity. It would be declared heresy and suppressed, but would bubble up over and over as people thoughtfully considered their religious beliefs. Its adherants disagreed with the Calvinist view that God divides humanity into those bound for heaven and those bound for hell. Instead of using the threat of hell as a tool for conformity, Universalists emphasized the steadfast love of God for all people and the promise of salvation not just for some, but universally. Modern Universalism developed as a branch of early rural U.S. Protestantism.
Over the centuries, Unitarians and Universalists were often persecuted as heretics and sometimes killed for their beliefs. Still, Unitarianism and Universalism persisted in Europe and became organized denominations in the U.S. in the 17th and 18th centuries. At least four early US Presidents were Unitarians!
Over the decades the Unitarians and Universalists became increasingly alike in their open-minded, life-affirming religious style, until they merged in 1961. Today UUs worldwide number in the millions.
What ceremonies are observed, what holidays celebrated?
Our ceremonies and rituals are typically around relationships between each other as individuals and community, evoking the divine but leaving open your interpretation of what that is, or isn't. We celebrate marriage, naming or dedication of children, and we memorialize our dead. A memorial service is more about celebrating the life of the deceased, or being present and caring in the face of tragedy.
Holidays and celebrations change and may be different in any congregation, but typically UUs celebrate many of the great religious holidays, and some secular as well. UUs will gather for a candle light Christmas Eve servce, a Passover meal, summer and winter Solstice, Earth Day, or many other observances that have meaning in our diverse religious lives.
What do you have to do to become a member of the UU Fellowship of Topeka?
There are two requirements for membership: 1) Sign the membership book, and 2) make a yearly donation of record (a donation with your name attached to it).
Joining any religious organization is a big decision, so we have literature on the subject, lots of people who would be delighted to respond to your questions, and ask that you take an introductory class so we get to know each other! Our Membership Committee and Minister can help. (make a link to our Membership section)