Who is a Unitarian Universalist?

As a religious professional and an aspiring religious educator (how far I am from that goal varies wildly depending on who is asked), I talk a lot about what Unitarian Universalism means to me and what it is at it’s best.

And I get a LOT of disagreement.

I get a lot of people who think I am wrong about what we, as a movement, ought to be aiming for. The UUA board has gotten hate mail about me… and that’s ok. Because it is not up to me to decide who is and is not a UU. Since being a UU is defined by our relationships and whether you are in covenant with a UU congregation, I do not determine if anyone is a UU or not.

What makes one a Unitarian Universalist is a commitment to live into our Principles, and the only true measure of that is whether or not you share a covenant with a Unitarian Universalist congregation. If you are held as a member in good standing, then no matter how much you and I disagree, we are each working to be our best selves and towards Beloved Community.

There is no simple test of faith, no creed to recite. What makes one a UU is a commitment to working together for a more just and compassionate world and to continued spiritual growth. Everything else is details.

So, while I can (and will) talk about what advances those goals, I am not the arbitrator of who is doing the work or how it gets done across the continent. That is the joy of a covenantal religion.

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3 Responses to Who is a Unitarian Universalist?

  1. Jean T McKee April 29, 2019 at 2:38 pm #

    Respectfully disagree – I was raised UU and have always considered myself one, upholding our values even when, as now, I am not a congregation member.

    • Thomas April 29, 2019 at 2:46 pm #

      Disagreement is expected, of course, among UUs. That said, we are a covenantal religion. Our only defining trait, in fact, is that we covenant with a congregation which is covenanted to the others via the UUA. If a congregation accepts your word and membership, you’re in.

      That is single limit to being a UU, both the maximum and the minimum.

  2. Morris Meador April 29, 2019 at 3:18 pm #

    I am curious to know what the disagreements are with your message, it is hard to imagine what they would be. I think you articulate it very well and totally agree. As to the above comment above, I have mixed feelings. Sure, a person can agree in general with the UU principles and call themselves UU and I guess this is OK . Through the years, however, I have known several persons who who maybe were active in a local church for a time, but who dropped out and seldom if ever come around and do not contribute financially. At some point they are dropped from the roles of the church or should be. It is OK to consider yourself a UU in spirit, but your are not really a member if you don’t participate.

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