While Unitarians value their individuality, they also treasure their relationships with each other. They realize no one is an atomized unit, and they quip, “It’s impossible to be a Unitarian by oneself.”
In fact, the third principle (of seven) underlying Unitarian Universalism is “Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations.”
Each member learns a lot from the others in this congregation devoted to spiritual/theological growth. Aligned with their worldview is the Chinese ideograph for “belief,” which depicts two persons talking.
And they often refer to the African concept of “Ubuntu,” which may be translated as “I am because we are.”
They also like the African saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Besides applying It to child-rearing, they acknowledge that it takes a whole fellowship to co-construct a theology.
They know that no individual member, or even their minister, has enough knowledge or experience to define everyone’s belief system. The congregation exists because people need one another to challenge them when they become complacent, correct them when they are wrong, comfort them when they suffer, and celebrate with them when they grow.
A teacher in their tradition recently wrote that the Unitarian spiritual journey is less like a solitary soul climbing a mountain path and more like Chaucer’s colorful Canterbury pilgrims, each sharing a different tale that enriches the rest.
[SUUF Member Paul Friedman continues to provide weekly articles for publication in the Red Rock News. This article – or a variation thereof – appeared in the Jan 27, 2023 issue]