First, take a look at this video:
For more details, see here:
Over 30,000 divisions?! Remember this warning from Jesus himself: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand.” (Matthew 12:25) If his word is true, then the Church is useless. It has been divided against itself since at least 1054 AD, when there was a schism between the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Churches. The leaders of the two factions actually excommunicated each other!
And things got only worse in the 16th Century with the Protestant Reformation, which was actually a fragmentation.
It must be noted that the whole issue of the Church being the Body of Christ was invented by the Apostle Paul, not Jesus. But we can be sure that they would have agreed that the church should have remained united. Instead, we find many streets where two or even three different Christian churches may exist within sight of each other. If their faith in Jesus really meant something, shouldn’t their members all worship together? The only time a church should split is when its members increase so much that they have outgrown their original building. More on that later.
The obvious question is, how do you keep a church united while also allowing its membership to grow? I would suggest that the church give up being dogmatic and allow its members to seek truth in their own way, while still giving them a loving community to support them, regardless of what specific theology they end up with.
The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) allows such a wide diversity of views and theological paths that it admits Christians, Jews, Pagans, and Atheists as equally welcome and committed members. Yet they are a single denomination that in fact arose from the union of two simular groups in 1961.
Unitarian Universalism is a liberal religion that embraces theological diversity. Our faith has evolved through a long history with origins in European Christian traditions. Unitarian Universalism today is the result of the 1961 consolidation of the American Unitarian Association and the Universalist Church of America. To learn more about the history and evolution of our faith, please see History.
While our congregations uphold shared principles, individual Unitarian Universalists may discern their own beliefs about theological issues. As there is no official Unitarian Universalist creed, Unitarian Universalists are free to search for truth on many paths.
For many Unitarian Universalists, Christianity provides insight and guidance. One of the shared sources of our faith is “Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God’s love by loving our neighbors as ourselves.”
One of the six religious sources from which Unitarian Universalism draws is “Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God’s love by loving our neighbors as ourselves.”
Roughly a quarter of all members of Unitarian Universalist congregations draw inspiration from Jewish theological perspectives. Many Unitarian Universalist congregations celebrate some of the major Jewish holidays, including Passover and the High Holy Days.
Pagans, Wiccans, and people who follow other earth-based spiritual traditions are welcome in Unitarian Universalist congregations. Today, a significant number of our members identify with an earth/nature-centered faith.
One of the religious sources of our faith is the “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.”
Many Unitarian Universalists identify with and draw inspiration from the teachings and practices of Buddhism. For example, a Unitarian Universalist worship service might feature readings from the Dalai Lama or the congregation might have a Buddhist meditation group. One of the central ideas that the two religions share is that each individual’s experiences and thoughts are valid sources of religious authority.
Atheists are people who do not believe in a god, while Agnostics are people who think that we cannot know whether a god exists. Both groups are welcome in Unitarian Universalism.
Today, a significant proportion of Unitarian Universalists do not believe in any type of god. Our congregations are theologically diverse places where people with many different understandings of the sacred can be in religious community together.
Humanism is a non-theist tradition that focuses on human potential and emphasizes personal responsibility for ethical behavior. Modern day Religious Humanism is largely derived from the writings of early American Unitarian Humanists, including Joseph Priestley, Thomas Jefferson, and John Haynes Holmes. Today, Humanism among the largest spiritual identity groups within Unitarian Universalism.
Individual Unitarian Universalists may also find inspiration in other religious traditions. Although Hinduism and Islam have not historically been part of our tradition, growing interest in these faiths is evident in recent courses, sermons, and writings on the subjects.
A Unitarian Universalist service may occasionally include scriptural readings from one of these traditions or find inspiration in holidays like Diwali or Ramadan. Currently there are a small number of Unitarian Universalists who also identify as Hindu or Muslim, and their ranks may grow in the future.
Ideas and practices from Hinduism are welcome in Unitarian Universalism. Unitarian Universalism shares some of the values found in Hinduism, including the importance of a personal search for truth, the idea that all things are connected, and a respect for other religious paths. Unitarian Universalism welcomes many understandings of divinity, including polytheism.
Many Unitarian Universalists are interested in the history and culture of Islam, and more Muslims around the world have begun learning about our faith.
Note that we are not talking about denominations that have split off from Unitarian Universalism. These are all groups that are within the Unitarian Universalist Assocation and their members may all serve in the same building, worshipping together.
Here is the website of the Unitarian Universalist Christian Fellowship: http://www.uuchristian.org/
This is the website for Unitarian Universalists for Jewish Awareness: http://www.uuja.org/
Here is the website for the Unitarian Universalist Buddhist Fellowship: http://www25.uua.org/uubf/
We also have a website for the HUUmanists: http://www.huumanists.org/
Then there is the website for the Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans: http://cuups.org/
There is even a website for UU Mystics: http://uumystics.org/ (Aren’t all religions mystical?)
I mentioned earlier that a church can outgrow its building and split as a result. The case of First Jefferson Unitarian Universalist Church (FJUUC) may suffice to show how a religious community may grow and even diversify without turning against itself. http://www.firstjefferson.org/
The church was founded as First Unitarian Church of Fort Worth in the late 1940s and after moving to an ideal location in the eastern part of the city, grew until it was too large for its tiny building. So two small groups split off in the 1960s to form the Arlington Unitarian Universalist Church http://arlington-tx-uu.org/index.html, which remains a small lay-led congregation to this day, and Jefferson Unitarian Church, which failed to thrive and in 1980 merged once more with the original church, with the reunited congregation changing its name to the present one.
In the 1990s, despite enlarging the building of FJUUC, its membership grew to over 250, thus causing overcrowding once more. At that point, another split occured with UUs in the west part of Fort Worth forming the Westside Unitarian Universalist Church: http://www.westsideuu.org/index.html
But that still wasn’t enough, so a few years later, yet another split occured, since some UUs living north of Fort Worth wanted a congregation of their own, which became known as Pathways: http://www.pathwaysuu.org/
These were NOT divisions over doctrine or how the churches should be organized, or anything other than natural growth and development of a thriving religious community. They are all united under the UUA, as well as:
The Southwestern Unitarian Universalist Conference of the UUA: http://www.swuuc.org/
The North Texas Association of Unitarian Universalist Societies: http://www.ntauus.org/index.shtml
And at a global level, we even have the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists: http://icuu.net/index.html
The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) is a nonsectarian organization that advances human rights and social justice in the United States and around the world. We envision a world free from oppression and injustice, where all can realize their full human rights.
Through a combination of advocacy, education, and partnerships with grassroots organizations, UUSC promotes economic rights, advances environmental justice, defends civil liberties, and preserves the rights of people in times of humanitarian crisis.
We also engage local communities through two experiential-learning programs, JustWorks and JustJourneys, which introduce participants to the work of our domestic and overseas partners — who are often on the front lines of addressing social-justice issues.
Our work is built on the conviction that all people are entitled to basic human rights, which transcend divisions of class, race, nationality, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, and gender.
We rely on our members and supporters — people just like you — to fund our programs. Anyone wishing to support human rights and social justice is welcome to join us.
UUSC is an associate member of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), but receives no general financial support from the UUA. Neither do we receive funding from federal or state governments or institutions, ensuring our independent voice.
The world in general, and America in particular, needs a healthy source of spirituality and community. I beleive Unitarian Universalism can fill that need. If we truly believe in religious freedom, then we should belong to a denomination that lives up to that ideal and does not create tyranny over anyone. Let it be so.