Unitarian Universalism, one of the most liberal religions today, welcomes atheists, agnostics, Christians, Buddhists, and believers of other faiths.
Number of Worldwide Members:
The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) has more than 221,000 members in the United States and abroad. Other Unitarian Universalist organizations in Canada, Europe, international groups, as well as people who informally identify themselves as Unitarian Universalists, bring the worldwide total to 800,000.
Unitarian Universalist Association Founding:
The UUA had its beginnings in Europe in 1569, when Transylvanian King John Sigismund issued an edict establishing religious freedom. The Universalists organized in the United States in 1793, with the Unitarians following in 1825.
The consolidation of the Universalist Church of America with the American Unitarian Association created the UUA in 1961.
Michael Servetus, Joseph Priestley, John Murray, Hosea Ballou.
The UUA includes more than 1,040 congregations worldwide, served by more than 1,700 ministers. Headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, the Unitarian Universalist Association calls itself the fastest growing liberal religion in North America.
Unitarian Universalism can also be found in Canada, Romania, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, the United Kingdom, the Philippines, India, and several countries in Africa.
Unitarian Universalist Association Governing Body:
Member congregations within the UUA govern themselves independently. The greater UUA is governed by an elected Board of Trustees, chaired by an elected Moderator. Administration duties are carried out by an elected president, three vice presidents, and five department directors. In North America, the UUA is organized into 19 districts, served by a District Executive.
Sacred or Distinguishing Text:
The Unitarian Universalist Association does not require belief in any single text, but instead draws upon the Bible and scriptures from other world religions for inspiration.
Notable Unitarian Universalist Ministers and Members:
Rev. Peter Morales, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Charles Dickens, Herman Melville, Florence Nightingale, P.T. Barnum, Alexander Graham Bell, Frank Lloyd Wright, Christopher Reeve, Ray Bradbury, Rod Serling, Pete Seeger, Andre Braugher, Keith Olbermann.
Unitarian Universalist Beliefs and Practices:
The Unitarian Universalist Association emphasizes the individual's spiritual journey and fulfillment. Members extract from a variety of Jewish, Christian, and other religious sources for wisdom and guidance.
The religion distinguishes itself from Christian denominations in that it welcomes but does not require belief in God or the Trinity. While Unitarian Universalists have services to dedicate children, note coming of age, join in marriage, and commemorate the dead, they do not consider these events sacraments. A further distinction of the Unitarian Universalist Association is that the group does not teach the divinity of Jesus Christ nor require belief in him as savior.
UUA congregations affirm and promote these seven principles:
- The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
- Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
- Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth of congregations;
- A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
- The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within congregations and in society at large;
- The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
- Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
Unitarian Universalism Resources:
(Sources: Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations Official Website, famousuus.com, Adherents.com, and Religions in America, edited by Leo Rosten.)