Who are we, as UUCM and as Unitarian Universalists?
1) Read Handouts 2A and 2C below, We Are Unitarian Universalists and Opportunities Abound
2) then go to the Survey Part 2 to give your responses.
3) Finally, watch Peter Bowden’s insightful take on Social Media and Church Membership (keeping in mind it’s from seven years ago now).
Handout 2A: We Are Unitarian Universalists
Adapted from an exercise developed by Rev. Renee Ruchotzke, with quotes from the UUA Brand Report.
We are Unitarian Universalists.
- We are brave, curious, and compassionate thinkers and doers. We are believers in what is good, what is right, and what is just.
- We are diverse in faith, ethnicity, history and spirituality, but aligned in our desire to practice our faith and beliefs in tangible ways. We foster a respectful community hallmarked by action, love, and acceptance of all people.
- We are the original conscientious objectors, radical thinkers, and self-motivated spiritual peoples throughout history. We have a track record of standing on the side of people, love, justice, and peace.
- We have roots in radical thinking and compassion. Our faith has always been motivated by a desire to contribute to the greater good.
- We are a house without walls, a congregation without spiritual boundaries, and a movement towards a more action-oriented faith in yourself, your god, and your beliefs.
- Simply put, we are a guided path towards a better you and a better world.
Unitarian Universalism is a BIG faith and we have a big message—that there is one Spirit of Life that moves within and between us and calls us to care for each other. Our faith celebrates the beauty, diversity, and goodness of all creation—all life. We believe in love and compassion for all—and in using our best learning to make the best choices we can.
—Rev. Natalie Maxwell Fenimore, Manhasset, New York
At its best, Unitarian Universalism is a religion of people who covenant to treat one another well, care for the earth, and protect the beautiful tapestry of cultures and communities that make up the people of the world. Love is the core value from which we build.
—Rev. Sunshine Jeremiah Wolfe, Syracuse, New York
Unitarian Universalists believe:
It’s a blessing you were born.
It matters what you do with your life.
What you know about god is a piece of the truth.
You do not have to do it alone.
—Laila Ibrahim, Berkeley, California
Both Unitarianism and Universalism sprang from liberal Christianity. Unitarianism speaks to the nature of God as One: Holy, Transcendent, Immanent, Whole, Mystery. Universalism speaks to the nature of our relationships—with the Divine, with ourselves, with each other, and with the planet which we call home.
—Rev. Michelle Buhite, Cheektowaga, New York
Unitarian Universalists have different religious beliefs but share a common faith. We know there’s something sacred about life. And we’re committed to finding it, together, even if it takes us our whole lives.
—Rev. Erik Martínez Resly, Washington D.C.
Our faith is not interested in saving your soul—we’re here to help you unfold the awesome soul you already have.
—Andrea Lerner, Breinigsville, Pennsylvania
Handout 2C: Opportunities Abound
How are Unitarian Universalists actually perceived in the world? With a little help from Proverb Consulting in 2013, these assets, challenges, opportunities, and pitfalls were identified in order to help Unitarian Universalists to think about our faith’s potential.
Assets to build on:
- Strong reputation for being progressive and inclusive
- UU beliefs resonate with emerging cultural values
- UU organizations are willing to make change and take risks
Challenges to consider:
- Traditionalist trappings
- “Silly” or “wacky” reputation
- Aging/declining membership lacks diversity
- Shrinking traditional funding base
- Lack of clarity to outsiders about beliefs
- Lack of consistency in being involved with congregations/communities
- Unclear “ask” and “promise” of what it means to be a UU
Opportunities we can take advantage of to spread our values:
- Rise of “spiritual but not religious” meshes with UU identity and beliefs
- Public desire for meaningful lives is high, even as more people are distrustful of or uninterested in traditional religion
- Untapped millennial audience is largest, most progressive and engaged, spiritually risk-taking generation ever
- New technologies allow us to reach more people than ever before
Potential Pitfalls – these could actively work against us in trying to reach new people:
- Openness to belief instead becomes “believe whatever you want”
- Trying to please all members all the time
- The nuanced, distinct UU point of view is lost in the 24/7 media culture
- Academic and cerebral tone
- Hesitance to push to action, more comfortable with just talking