The Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations (UUA) was formed in 1961 through the consolidation of two faith traditions: the Universalist Church of America, organized in 1793, and the American Unitarian Association, organized in 1825. Both of these traditions in turn derived from Protestant Christian churches in the United States and before that in Europe, where traditional Unitarian churches continue in England, Scotland, Romania and other countries. Today the UUA is a religious family of more than 1,000 congregations that support each other and bring to the world a theology of tolerance, interdependence and compassion.
With its historical roots in the Jewish and Christian traditions, Unitarian Universalism today is a liberal religion — that is, a religion that keeps an open mind to the religious questions people have struggled with in all times and places.
We are a “non-creedal” religion: we do not ask anyone to subscribe to a creed. This means that Unitarian Universalists believe different things: some believe in a personal God and find great meaning and support in prayer; others pursue a non-theist path, using Buddhist meditation practices or yoga or some other discipline to deepen their spiritual lives. Humanists among us sometimes describe themselves as atheists or agnostics. UU Christians follow the path taught by Jesus of Nazareth, and those who arrive among us from a Jewish background retain their Jewish identity while whole-heartedly embracing their new religious home.
How can one religious community hold so many people with different beliefs?
We thrive on our religious differences, because we believe that in the search for spiritual wisdom and maturity there is no such thing as a final answer: we keep learning and deepening our understanding all our lives. We therefore strive to create within each congregation a lively and engaged religious home that will support the spiritual journeys of our members and guests through meaningful worship, religious education classes and a variety of other programs.
Our congregations are self-governing: authority and responsibility are vested in the membership of the congregation, and we have no bishops or supreme leader. Our congregations elect their own Boards of Trustees for limited terms of service, and call (or dismiss) their own ministers and staff, with assistance – but not control – from the national denomination. Based on its membership size, each congregation sends a certain number of delegates to our annual national gathering, called General Assembly, at which the business of the wider denomination is conducted.
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