In 1961 the two great streams of North American liberal religion, the Universalist Church of America and the American Unitarian Association, consolidated their efforts—creating the Unitarian Universalist Association. This brought together the current of wisdom explored at great depth by the Unitarians, expressed in the motto “salvation by character,” and the current of love explored at great depth by the Universalists, expressed in the motto “love over creed.” While originally a liberal Christian phenomenon, the UUA might today be more accurately described as a liberal religion with Christians. And Jews. And Humanists. And the Earth-centered. And Buddhists. And many, many others.
Unitarian Universalism is a way of covenant. What binds us are promises of relationship and justice rather than statements of creed. Our confidence is that in our willingness to be present to each other, to walk together, to treat each other with kindness and generosity, that we can find what we need to grow deep, to raise healthy families, to be better people for this world.
We invite you to gather with us in the many ways of body, mind, and spirit. The most obvious is our Sunday worship, where we explore that “worth” in life which lies at the heart of the word. Our way is also about growing in wisdom, so the faith development programs we share for our multigenerational community are equally important, each informing the other, and all informing a way of life. Join us on spiritual pathways for children, youth and adults where we learn and teach what it means to be a loving faith community.
History Unitarian Universalism is a liberal religious tradition that was formed from the consolidation of two different religions: Unitarianism and Universalism. Both began in Europe hundreds of years ago. In America, the Universalist Church of America was founded in 1793, and the American Unitarian Association in 1825. After consolidating in 1961, these faiths became the new religion of Unitarian Universalism through the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA).
Both religions have long histories and have contributed important theological concepts that remain central to Unitarian Universalism. Originally, all Unitarians were Christians who didn't believe in the Holy Trinity of God (Father, Son, and Holy Ghost), but in the unity, or single aspect, of God. Later, Unitarian beliefs stressed the importance of rational thinking, a direct relationship with God, and the humanity of Jesus. Universalism emerged as a Christian denomination with a central belief in universal salvation; that is, that all people will eventually be reconciled with God.
Since the merger of the two denominations in 1961, Unitarian Universalism has nurtured its Unitarian and Universalist heritages to provide a strong voice for social justice and liberal religion. There are a few more than a thousand congregations across the United States, reporting about two hundred thousand adult members. There are eight UU congregations in Rhode Island, the oldest the First Unitarian Church of Providence, gathered as a congregational church in 1720.
To learn more about Unitarian Universalism, please see the pamphlet, "Unitarian Universalist Origins: Our Historic Faith."
For information on past presidents of the Unitarian Universalist Association, please see UUA Past Presidents.
Additional link: http://www.areyouuu.org
Our Principles and Purposes
There are seven principles, which Unitarian Universalist congregations affirm and promote:
James Ishmael Ford (Zeno Myoun, Roshi) is an American Zen Buddhist priest and Unitarian Universalist minister. He was born in Oakland, California on July 17, 1948. He earned a BA in psychology from Sonoma State University, as well as an MDiv and an MA in the Philosophy of Religion, both from the Pacific School of Religion.
Ford began his Zen studies in 1968 at the Berkeley Zen Center under the direction of Mel Weitsman, later Weitsman, Roshi. He was ordained unsui and received Dharma transmission from the late Jiyu Kennett Roshi. After leaving Kennett Roshi's Shasta Abbey and for a brief time exploring other religious traditions including the Episcopal Church, the western Gnostic tradition and Inayat Khan Sufism, Ford pursued Zen koan introspection for nearly twenty years with the Sanbo Kyodan derived Harada-Yasutani Zen master Dr John Tarrant, with whom he completed formal training and from whom he received Inka Shomei in 2005.
Ford also began to be seriously involved in Unitarian Universalism at about the same time he began his work with Tarrant Roshi. After completing theological studies he became a Unitarian Universalist minister, serving Unitarian Universalist congregations in Wisconsin and Arizona before becoming senior minister of the First Unitarian Society in Newton, MA in 2000. In May 2008 First Unitarian Church of Providence, RI called him to its pulpit; he began his ministry there in the summer of that year.