The Unitarian Universalist Church has an interesting theological history – once an offshoot of mainstream Christianity, Unitarians are now not necessarily even theists. What this means, practically, is that every person of any faith is welcome in a Unitarian congregation. The Unitarian Universalist faith began well over a hundred years ago, as a theological movement that did not believe in the Christian Trinity. The original Unitarians were called so simply because of their belief in the unity of God. However, as Unitarian churches allowed non-Christian members to join their congregations, the term “Unitarian” began to mean someone who associated with a Unitarian congregation, rather than someone who believed in Godly unity. Now, Unitarian Universalist congregations all over the world are based on a more philosophical and less directly Christian set of beliefs and practices.
Unitarians’ basic principles are drawn from a variety of sources although simple common sense would seem to be predominant. While Judeo-Christian values are a strong influence on their faith, that’s as much because those values are generally decent as because of the Unitarian basis in Christianity. Peace, inclusion, life, love, and respect might be said to be the overarching ideological basis of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA).
This is, perhaps, the influence of the “Universalist” background of the UUA. The Universalist branch of Christianity holds that “everyone will be reconciled with God eventually,” meaning that there is no eternal damnation. The combination of the Unitarian faith and the Universalist faith has resulted in a singularly tolerant and kindly interpretation of Christianity.
Another distinct feature of the UUA is its emphasis on community action and volunteerism. Unitarian Universalists frequently give their time to a variety of causes; although most religious groups sponsor philanthropic organizations and other good works, the UUA gets behind quite a few causes which are typically not favored by other religions, such as bisexual, gay, lesbian and transgender rights. Unitarian Universalists make any individual welcome – and believe strongly that God does as well.
Live Oak Unitarian, at 820 N. Fairview Ave., Goleta. Call 967-7867 or visit liveoakgoleta.org.
Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara, at 1535 Santa Barbara St., Santa Barbara. Call 965-4583 or visit ussb.org.