As a Unitarian Universalist minister, I am often asked to explain what Unitarian Universalism is and what we believe. Here's my very short answer, as short as I can make it.
As a Unitarian Universalist minister, I am often asked to explain what Unitarian Universalism is and what we believe. My very short answer, or at least as short as I can make it, is that “we are communities of faithful people working together to build a better world while un-agreed on the most essential issues of faith.” We do not disagree, we are un-agreed; we worship together peacefully each week while understanding that each person brings a different set of beliefs and traditions. We are bound together by values that speak to our highest common aspirations.
One of our core values is pluralism. We celebrate that we are all sacred beings diverse in culture, experience, and theology. Perhaps no other time of the year exemplifies this value than right now. Over the past few weeks, we have celebrated and acknowledged the vernal equinox, Ramadan, Passover and Easter. Each of these holy days and holy times has taught us something that transcends the specifics of one religion.
From Earth-centered religions that celebrated the vernal equinox, we are reminded that each of us is part of an interdependent web of existence. Spring is a time of rebirth and renewal, and with the return of light, there is a renewal of our spirit. From Islam, we learned of the importance of sacrifice, introspection and spiritual practices of gratitude and generosity. From Judaism, we are reminded that none of us are free until all of us are free. And from Easter, we affirmed that death does not have the last word, love has the last word and the first.
We do not claim to be adherents of these religions. We are Unitarian Universalists. And we take particular care not to misappropriate other people’s holidays. We understand that we are looking at them through our particular lens. What we do when we acknowledge and celebrate these holidays and holy times is to uplift the wisdom each of them has to share with us. And every religion has something to share with all of humanity.
This time of year, there are so many reminders, through our various religions, that there is one light shining through many windows. We pray that what we learn from this time of year - and remember throughout the whole of the year - is to love one another, to work for freedom and justice for everyone, to give generously to the world the best of ourselves, and to have hope that we shall one day become one beloved community.
The Rev. Cheryl M. Walker is interim senior minister at the Unitarian Society of Germantown.