South Church is one of about 1,000 Unitarian Universalist congregations in the United States.
Both Unitarianism and Universalism were once liberal Protestant denominations. Both emerged in the U.S. in the 18th century as an outgrowth of theological trends in Europe. Early Unitarians celebrated human capabilities, and particularly encouraged the use of reason in religion. They were called Unitarians because they rejected the doctrine of the Trinity, believing that God was one and not three persons. Universalists believed in a loving forgiving God, in stark contrast to the teachings of the conservative church at the time. They were called Universalists because they believed in universal salvation. They believed that all people would be welcomed into the Kingdom of Heaven.
Contemporary Unitarian Universalism is no longer a Protestant denomination, although we do still name Jewish and Christian teachings as one of the sources of our living tradition. Today, we draw wisdom, inspiration and guidance from a number of sources, including:
- Direct experiences 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
- Words and deeds of prophetic women and men which challenge us to confront power and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love
- Wisdom from the world’s religions which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life
- Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God’s love by loving our neighbors as ourselves
- 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.
- Spiritual teachings of earth-centered teachings which call us to celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature
There are Unitarian and Unitarian Universalist congregations in Canada, England, Ireland, Hungary, the Philippines and India. Some of these congregations date from the 16th century.
Unitarian Universalists have a long history of social engagement. They have been involved in a number of important social movements, including the abolition movement, women’s suffrage, educational reform and more. Contemporary Unitarian Universalists have worked on social movements ranging from environmental sustainability to marriage equality and health care reform.
For more information about our contemporary values and our rich history, please visit the web site of the Unitarian Universalist Association and/or our service organization, the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee.