Beliefs & Values
Ours is a religious philosophy that believes religious values should fit individuals, rather than individuals all being made to fit into one single religious “box.” No single religious text. No ten commandments. No creed to which you must agree. We are fond of saying, “The whole world is our sacred text.” This respect for individual particularity and openness to diverse sources of wisdom means our community is packed with a wide array of perspectives and beliefs. This diversity excites us. It’s not always easy to deal with so many different views, but it leaves us richer than any of us could be on our own. We are in keeping with one of the best spiritual writers of our time, Eckhart Tolle, who said, “Being spiritual has nothing to do with what you believe and everything to do with your state of consciousness.”
The links on this page offer you a taste of our diversity, but also some of the core values and principles that enable us to feel both “many and one.”
listening to our deepest selves,
opening to life’s gifts and
serving needs greater than our own –
Theology Behind Our Mission
As Unitarian Universalists, we are rooted in the idea that religion is about a way of life. We focus on deeds, not creeds. And the deeds we believe are most needed are those that help address spiritual disconnection, which we believe is the primary spiritual struggle of our time. Looking at our own lives and the lives around us, we see people struggling against:
- a shallow, frantic culture
- forgetfulness about who they really are and who they want to be
- a feeling of being pulled apart
- a desire for “more”
These common struggles leave many of us wanting to be more intentional about strengthening the connections to ourselves, others and life itself. In response, our congregation focuses on three “life lines” or means of connection. We help each other:
- Listen to our deepest selves.
- Open to the gifts (and grace) of the world.
- Serve needs greater than our own.
Listen! Open! Serve! You will hear these three words a lot around our church. They frame our approach to Unitarian Universalist spiritual development. They clarify our mission and vision and guide our actions and decisions. They inspire us and remind us we value this community so deeply.
If these three lifelines speak to you, we’d love your help strengthening them in each other and offering them to the world!
Covenant of Right Relations
As a religious community, we support each other in our search for truth and right action. We remind ourselves of basic beliefs concerning ways to treat one another. We check our own responses to be sure we are showing respect to the person who may have a different perspective. We tap into our reservoirs of kindness and empathy as we speak and listen. We seek to make our generosity of spirit explicit.
In this time of transition in our religious community, I intend to:
- Listen attentively, acknowledge others’ views and try to imagine holding their opinions.
- Refrain from judging other people’s motives and opinions.
- Seek accurate information, be willing to test my assumptions, and examine my own motives.
- Communicate openly, directly, and honestly. I will go directly to a person with whom I disagree and share differences respectfully. If needed, I will use a third party to mediate.
- Balance being open to new ideas and respecting our traditions.
- Stay engaged. Be patient with myself, others, and the process of change.
- Allow space for feelings and emotions – mine and others’.
- Lighten up, let go of the trivial, and be willing to give and take.
- Remind myself that we are all working for the shared goal of supporting our religious community.
They say you can’t define “beauty.” Rather, “you just know it when you see it.” The same can be said of Unitarian Universalist Spirituality. It’s an attitude more than a set of beliefs. A way of being in the world more than specific convictions about the nature of the world. One UU theologian put it simply, “It’s an openness to life.” At First Unitarian, we often talk about it in terms of “living and loving boldly.” Our ministers point out that the word “spirit” when used in the biblical texts is almost always linguistically related to the word “breath” or “wind.” So think about what “breathes” life into you and, from a UU perspective, you’re in the realm of spirituality. None of us wants to live lives that feel shallow, empty or “flat.” We regularly hunger to “go deeper,” to “get beneath the surface of things.” That for us is the work of spirituality.
In the spirit of “knowing it when you see it,” we offer you a number of “pictures” of UU spirituality below. These sermons, personal statements and general principles will give you a feel for “the spirit” that moves in and graces our lives.
Why We Come
Video of members sharing what the First Unitarian community has meant to them. Click here
This I Believe
Read a number of personal belief statements written by our members. This captures the rich diversity of the spiritual perspectives amoung us. Click here
Our UU Principles
Don’t mistake these for our creed. This is a list of the more common perspectives amoung all UUs. It doesnot capture all we believe or necessarily what UUs each believe most strongly. They are simply—and powerfully—the core items most of us share. Click here
Beliefs within Our Faith
This lifts up our embrace of the many faith traditions of all humanity. We do not believe that truth is the sole possession of one religion, but is spread throughout all traditions, even the “secular” traditions of science, Shakesphere, movies and Barnes & Noble books! Click here
The Flaming Chalice
Read about the symbol of our faith. Click here
100 Questions That Non-Members Ask
This popular and brief overview, 100 Questions That Non-Members Ask About Unitarian Universalism, offers a distinctly humanist view of Unitarian Universalism and helps newcomers get a good feel of who we are. It comes to us courtesy of our friends at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashua, New Hampshire
Our Values Video
In this video from the Unitarian Universalist Association, church members and ministers from around the country share their thoughts on worship and fellowship, explain the goals of religious education, explore the historic roots of our religion, and celebrate the spirit of social justice that inspires our faith.