I welcome this reminder that Unitarian Universalism — although begun in theological dispute — is much more than trying to craft a “right belief.” Indeed, as I visit with congregational leaders, our leading cause of congregational heart-burn stems from some trying to enforce a creedal purity, even to the point of censoring what words we use to express our highest hopes and deepest aspirations.
Were I to wave the magic wand for our District congregations, it would be to put an end to the word wars that so often divide, even hurt our sense of beloved community. Not having such power, I call your attention to our origins: Our congregations were born in the mid-17th century ambition to be a community of inquiry, as noted in the 1629 Salem Covenant: We bind ourselves together “to walk together in all God’s ways, … as he is pleased to reveal himself to us in his Blessed word of truth.”
A less archaic version updates that ideal:
“We covenant with one another ? and do bind ourselves together in the presence of this religious community to express our deepest and most cherished convictions, as they are borne by each person, to find a common vision for a better world, to seek the life of the spirit, as it is known by each person, choosing with reverence its name, and to walk together in the way of truth and love, as it is shown to us and to all people, in word and deed.”
At our best, we Unitarian Universalists show respect for each other’s worth and dignity by engaging in an on-going dialogue toward mutual spiritual growth. At our less than best, we sometimes try to clone one another spiritually.
As we move toward the annual fall up-charging of our ministries, I pray you will keep in mind we are one heart and one ambition — to nurture the soul & heal the world — amidst all our diversity of faith conviction and expression. Our faith is a way of life, far more than it is a way of belief. May we walk well together, my friends.