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Unitarian Universalism began in the year 1961 and became known as the “leading light for liberal religion.” That year marked the merging of what had previously been two separate denominations: Unitarianism and Universalism, both of which originated from Protestant Reformation. Unitarianism was founded on the belief that there exists a single God, and Universalism was founded on the belief that all humans will ultimately reach salvation. Although Unitarian Universalism (UU) is rooted in these Christian beliefs, “these theological issues faded in importance” and while some UUs today identify as Christian, that is no longer true for many UUs, including many congregants at The First Universalist.1
As congregant Denise Konen described, “The Unitarian and Universalist religions joined in the 60's, and now we are called Unitarian Universalist… but they range from churches like Unitarian Society that is humanist, so it’s made up of mostly atheists and humanists, to more Christian-focused out East.2 ” Congregant Polly Talen added that UUs exist on a “continuum ranging from theistic to humanistic” with the First Universalist resting right in the middle.3 Despite such differences among UUs, The Unitarian Universalist Association decided upon seven core principles twenty years ago, which now serve as a fundamental framework for adherents of the faith.
What bonds us together as Universalists, what bonds us together in community is not so much what we profess to believe… What bonds us together is our promise to support each other in the journey of discovery.
Although the continuum that Polly describes exists, as Reverend Susan Milnor of the First Universalist explained in a 1991 sermon, “What bonds us together as Universalists, what bonds us together in community is not so much what we profess to believe… What bonds us together is our promise to support each other in the journey of discovery.” This de-emphasis on belief is reflected in UU’s lack of “central authority” or particular creed, which allows congregants to “test the value of their own thoughts” through “changing our minds and hearts as we discover new knowledge.”4
“About Unitarian Universalism,” First Universalist Church, accessed June 1, 2016, ↩
Denise Konen, interview by Natalie Jacobson, March 23, 2016. ↩
Polly Talen, interview by Natalie Jacobson, March 23, 2016. ↩
“The Spirit of Life: The First 150 Years of First Universalist Church of Minneapolis”, YouTube. Last modified September 20, 2013. ↩