Monday, July 14, 2014

Unitarian Universalism

   I want to share with you the church towards which my spiritual growth has nudged me during this past decade of my 76 years of life.  As you might have read elsewhere on my two blog sites, I was raised as a fundamentalist Christian, namely in Baptist churches and became very active over the years as soloist, choir director and Sunday school teacher. 
   A detour in my Christian belief occurred in my twenties when, while standing Coast Guard radio watch with a fellow radioman who was a devout Lutheran.  He asked me what I thought about the scripture which speaks about Holy Communion where the wine consumed turns into the blood of Christ and the bread turns into His body.  I replied that it is just symbolic and doesn't really become His blood and body.  He reminded me that I had touted I believed the words of the Bible were literally true!  Woowww... what that did to me drove me not to attend church for seven years and start numerous studies of spiritual type beliefs of all kinds.
   Then after seven years, I'm not sure why it happened, but as executive officer of a Coast Guard cutter stationed in Hawaii, while we were on a two month South Pacific cruise, and I made a new commitment to the faith of fundamentalist Christianity.
   I returned to the ministries of choir director and Sunday school teacher in Southern Baptist Churches which lasted until just before my retirement from the Coast Guard in the late 1970's when I opened up a Christian book store in a rural county in southern Maryland.  We joined the Assembly of God church there, then a Methodist pastor asked me to come to his church and start a choir.  Since the church was less than a mile from our home, I agreed.  In 1980, this Methodist pastor got a supervisory position in western Maryland and asked me if I would consider becoming a Methodist pastor of three churches simultaneously near Frostburg, Maryland if I agreed to attend 4 weeks of Methodist seminary each summer for several years; I accepted! I did that for three years.
   In the late 1980's, while I was an Addictions Counselor in a Maryland State 35-day inpatient rehab facility.  I was introduced to a thick book called "A Course of Miracles".  It started changing my fundamentalist belief system away from the Bible that had guided my life for so long.
   I was then guided into a Unity church for awhile which held to general spirituality modeled after several sources.  Then the Unitarian Universalist church came into my life and a lot of religious/spiritual practices rapidly began falling into place.

  The following is the quote of what the Unitarian Universalist Association  member congregations covenant to affirm and promote:

   "Unitarian Universalism is a denomination that celebrates diversity of belief and is guided by seven principles. Our congregations are places where we gather to nurture our spirits and put our faith into action through social justice work in our communities and the wider world.  

"1) The Unitarian Universalist Church of Annapolis(my church) is a self-governing church within the association of congregations in the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA).
2)We work with other churches in the UUA to support one another, but we have authority over our decisions, actions, finances, and even whom we call to be our minister.
3)Unitarian Universalism has seven principles which bind us together as we strive to live in right relationship with each other in our communities and in the world. We affirm and promote:
   a)The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
   b)Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
   c)Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
   d)A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
   e)The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
   e)The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
   f)Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

"Unitarian Universalism is open to multiple sources of inspiration, not just one or two. We strive to be open-minded to the various paths of others, and seek the paths that are most helpful in connecting us to meaning, truth, and love.

   "1)Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life;
   2)Words and deeds of prophetic women and men which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love;
   3)Wisdom from the world’s religions which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life;
   4)Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God’s love by loving our neighbors as ourselves;
   5)Humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science, and warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit;
   6)Spiritual teachings of earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.

"Grateful for the religious pluralism which enriches and ennobles our faith, we are inspired to deepen our understanding and expand our vision.  As free congregations we enter into this covenant, promising to one another our mutual trust and support."

   In the UU Church, we have members who are athiests, agnostics, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, gay/lesbian, etc, etc... all joined together in the spirit of the above covenant.  If you are not sure which church/religion you belong in but have a desire to explore or join with others of like-mind, try a Sunday morning service of a Unitarian Universalist Church near you.  The service is inspiring with sermon, choir, music and at least one fantastic loving pastor.  Many UU Churches have a Mindfullness Meditation Group based on Zen Buddhism teaching by such insightful teachers as Tich Naht Hahn; such group meets a couple of times a week and majors on teaching mindfulness meditation.  I am pleased to belong to such a group in addition to the other church activities.

   Please do not mis-understand this blog post.  I am not trying to convert you from your present faith (or non-faith).  But if doubt in your beliefs are beginning to creep in and you are looking for some spiritual understanding and direction, please consider trying Unitarian Universalism as a great place to explore or just to be comfortable in your present belief system with no pressure to change. 

 UU aims to make the world a better place through activism, love, inclusiveness and understanding.

John Potts
(Arriving Home at the Source)

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All comments are welcome.  Would love to dialogue with you!  Share your spiritual experiences!


  1. Quite a journey! I am a UU as well by way of Jehovah's Witnesses followed by multiple stops in many different churches most notably Catholic ending with a Pagan awakening and the UU. In all honesty I do not feel a real connection with UU as a "faith" it is too sanitized to offer much of a "Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder". The people are wonderful however though. But if I could find a more excepting place of spirituality I'm afraid I would leave. I don't really want to belong to a club I want to be part of faith I want to belong to the best part of what UU could be. Do you miss that at all? Or are you ok with the very secular nature of what UU is now? Just wonder what you think I'm a old retired guy as well and I miss talking about spiritual matters.

    1. Greetings, Jeremiah! Thank you for your comment! UU churches have different styles. My UUC here in Annapolis, MD has 3 pastors plus an intern and many different programs. Every sermon I find to be spiritual enriching. My UUC plus many others has a Mindful Meditation Group (Based on Zen Buddhism) which meets on Sunday morning for an hour before the church programs begin and on Thursday evenings for 1.5 hours. Plus on Sunday evenings, 1 of our pastors leads a more joyful, semi-evangelical, sermon, quartets, old style spiritual singing, which is well attended. You might see if there is another UU church in your area. Now, before UU, we were members of a UNITY church for several years & changed mainly because of location & UU had a Buddhist ministry. UNITY is very Spiritual, impartial to all religions, praying, meditation, singing. You might ck on UNITY locations in your area & give them a try. Had it not been for location issues & the fact that the UU church had a Buddhist segment, we would still be with the Unity church. I am in the process this week of re-editing my memoirs (Doubt as Opportunity) in which I tell how my spiritual goals & affiliation changed over my life span leading to Unity & UU & Buddhism preferences. In a couple of week this eBook should be available on Amazon for next to nothing price. You might find it helpful. If you send me your email address, I will let you know when it is published... if you deal with an eBook. Hope this is helpful for you! John Potts