Can you even imagine a religious community where you don’t have to check your background or beliefs at the door? Where a journeying community can honor the totality of your life and experience? It’s not a dream: Unitarians and Universalists have joyously welcomed a diverse group of searchers and seekers for centuries.
We share stirring worship services, religious education, and collaborative work for social justice. Your whole self is welcome, with all your questions and doubts, curiosity, worries, and hopes. Unitarian Universalism is an extraordinary adventure of faith.
Unitarian Universalism keeps an open mind about the religious questions people have struggled with in all times and places. We believe that personal experience, conscience, and reason should have as much authority in our lives as sacred books and precepts or religious institutions.
Our roots are in the liberal Protestant tradition, yet we don’t have a creed or statement of belief that members are required to sign or recite. Unitarian Universalists do share common values expressed in a list of Principles, and those unite us even as they allow individual UUs to hold different beliefs about life’s ultimate questions. As the Rev. Barbara Wells ten Hove explains, “The Principles are not dogma or doctrine, but rather a guide for those of us who choose to participate in Unitarian Universalist communities.” Our Principles state that:
Since truth is evolving, Unitarian Universalists are in the process of considering an eighth principle: “We covenant to affirm and promote journeying toward spiritual wholeness by working to build a diverse, multicultural Beloved Community by our actions that accountably dismantle racism and other oppressions in ourselves and our institutions.”
Adapting our core values takes time and care. Beginning at the General Assembly (a convention and business meeting) in June 2022, delegates from all UU congregations will take a deep dive into this proposed addition. We are people who love language; more edits to the 8th Principle are bound to come!
This collaborative process is part of our recognition that, while people can “be spiritual” by themselves, living in a spiritual community helps us better define our ideas and behavior. We also offer comfort and support for each other as we work through difficult questions. As our 16th-century ancestor Francis David said, “We need not think alike to love alike.” Together, we become our best selves and work to improve life for all.
For nearly 70 years, members of the UUFA have tried to enact these principles in our congregation. We have been known for our firm commitment to social justice and human rights from the beginning. In the 1960s, members of our Fellowship led the University of Georgia faculty in supporting campus desegregation. Later, other members helped create the Clarke Community Federal Credit Union to serve the needs of lower-income people.
Not all this work has been outward. In 1995, we began our paraministerial Care Ring program to support and strengthen the members of our fellowship. We have also been a safe space for members of the LGBTQI+ community for many years.
Newcomers visit and become involved in the life of this Fellowship for many reasons. Some come looking for a spiritual community guided by principles or values rather than dogma. Many who describe themselves as “spiritual but not religious” find UU congregations just what they’re seeking. Some come looking for a place to raise their children where they’ll be encouraged to follow their own spiritual or religious path and where all are welcome. Some come looking to form friendships with like-minded people. Some come looking for a place to direct their interest in social action and social justice. Whatever you’re looking for, we hope you’ll visit UUFA again and again.
Our congregation is funny, active, and unique. We sing and drum; we enjoy fourth Sunday lunches and host exceptional social events. We cook well, love to eat, raise children and guide dogs; enjoy baseball; travel; serve on local boards and non-profit organizations; and participate in local plays, music groups, schools, and political organizations.
Shared Ministry, where both the minister and congregation are responsible for all aspects of congregational life, is important to us. Some committees (like the Worship Arts and Celebrations Team or the Social Action Committee) are lay led. With the Minister and Director of Music in the lead, our Worship Arts and Celebration Team (WACT) helps plan and conduct the Sunday worship service.
Led by our associated community minister the Rev. Don Randall, the Pastoral Care Team helps members deal with crises and provides care and support. Our Care Rings provide casseroles, transportation, listening ears, and care to members in physical, emotional, or spiritual need. The Music Director and many volunteers organize choir, drum circle, and other events.
Our Social Action Committee challenges both members of the Fellowship and members of the larger community to put our UU principles and values into action. The Goddess Group nurtures women’s spirituality. And all enjoy casual coffee meetings and intense discussions.
Members and friends engage in a number of activities to fulfill the Vision and Mission of UUFA. We do this engagement while following the covenant that members have developed to guide their interactions with each other. We deepen our understanding of life and our place in the world through worship, learning, having fun, and serving our Fellowship and local communities. We aspire to live up to our high ideals and to live out our values each and every day.
The vision of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Athens, Georgia, is to be a beacon of liberal religion and spirituality in Northeast Georgia. Guided by our Unitarian Universalist principles, our light will shine more brightly as we welcome greater diversity and search for deeper meaning. By speaking and acting for justice, and modeling sustainable stewardship of personal and earth resources, we strive to transform our world.
The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Athens, Georgia, is a caring congregation of diverse peoples, ages, backgrounds, and beliefs. Our purpose is to support our members and to commit deeply to our shared Unitarian Universalist principles by worshiping, playing, and exploring life’s meaning together, thus promoting love and justice in our larger community and the world.