About Unitarian Universalism

chaliceThe national Unitarian Universalist Association was created in 1961 by the merger of Unitarianism and Universalism, both strong Christian movements through the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Today the denomination honors its past, yet lives a new present as a liberal faith of widely diverse membership and belief.

Unitarian Universalists adhere to no creed but do agree to a set of seven Principles voicing shared belief in such concepts as the dignity of all, justice, free search for truth and meaning, democracy, world community, and respect for "the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.” Unitarian Universalist congregations are communities of individuals who are like-minded in many ways but also engage in individual spiritual search.


"Spirituality” is a term frequently heard in the one thousand or so Unitarian Universalist communities of the United States. It invokes thoughts of connection to deepest self, to human other, to world and universe, and to the mystery that some accept as God and that others understand through science and analytic thought.

Some Unitarian Universalist groups and individuals identify as Christian, Jew, Buddhist, humanist, or pagan; many others identify only as self and UU. However they identify, all honor the truth and beauty of many religious and secular sources. Hence the presence of symbols honoring a variety of faiths in many Unitarian Universalist buildings.

"Service is our prayer,” says a popular Unitarian Universalist reading, and social action calls many, perhaps most, Unitarian Universalist to its many causes.

The Unitarian Universalist Association

American Unitarian Universalist congregations belong to the national Unitarian Universalist Association, which has its headquarters in Boston, but they are not directed by it. Individual churches write their own mission statements, buy or construct their own buildings, call their own ministers (from those in fellowship with the UUA), create their own by-laws, collect and spend their own money, and elect their own officers. Please visit their website at www.uua.org and click on Visitors for more information.

If Unitarian Universalist buildings have one thing in common, it is the presence of the flaming chalice, first the symbol of the Unitarian Service Committee, now the symbol of the full denomination. Allen Avenue has on its front sanctuary wall a wooden chalice carved by a member. Other churches have pottery or metal chalices, some with live flames, and some without.

Chalice symbol in our churchOur Symbol: The Flaming Chalice

A flame within a chalice is a symbol of our Unitarian Universalist faith. At the opening of worship services, we light the flame to unite us in worship and to symbolize the spirit of our work.

Hans Deutsch, an Austrian artist, first brought together the chalice and the flame as a Unitarian symbol during his work with the Unitarian Service Committee during World War II. To Deutsch, the image had connotations of sacrifice and love.

The American Unitarian Association helped rescue Jews and others escaping Nazi Germany at the beginning of WWII. The Unitarians formed a Service Committee in 1940. The Universalists helped rescue Jews from Holland and formed their Service Committee in 1945. The two organizations worked together in the aftermath of the war in Europe to bring relief to the millions of refugees. For more information go to www.uusc.org/info/history.html.

The Seven Unitarian Universalist Principles

Allen Avenue Unitarian Universalist church joins Unitarian Universalists in more than 1,000 congregations who affirm and promote the following Seven Principles:

The inherent worth and dignity of each person;

Justice, equity, and compassion in human relations;

Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;

A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;

The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large ;

The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;

Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

The living tradition we share draws from many sources:

  • 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;
  • 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;
  • Wisdom from the world 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 traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.
Did You Know?

Famous UU's:

Alexander Graham Bell
Ambrose Bierce
Beatrix Potter
Benjamin Franklin
Bret Harte
Buckminster Fuller
Charles Dickens
Charles Darwin
Christopher Reeve
Clara Barton
Clarence Darrow
e. e. cummings
Ethan Allen
Fannie Farmer
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Horace Greeley
Isaac Newton
James Russell Lowell
John Quincy Adams
John Adams
Josiah Quincy
Julia Ward Howe
Linus Pauling
Louisa May Alcott
Luther Burbank
Millard Fillmore
Nathaniel Hawthorne
Norman Cousins
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
P.T. Barnum
Paul Newman
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ray Bradbury
Robert Fulghum
Susan B. Anthony
T. Berry Braselton
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Paine
Tim Berners-Lee
William Cullen Bryant