Unitarian-Universalists practice tolerance

Unitarian-Universalists are very active in community service.

There is an old joke that goes “Christians have their cross; Jews have their Star of David; Muslims have their crescent; and Unitarians have the question mark.”
This statement reflects their history of no dogma or creed for membership. Unitarians emphasize humanitarian ethical and social values, the goodness and dignity of every human, and freedom of religious belief. American history is full of famous Unitarians: political figures like John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and Adlai Stevenson; literary figures like Louisa May Alcott and Ambrose Bierce and American Red Cross founder Clara Barton.
The Unitarian-Universalist Association is a nationwide body with headquarters in Boston, which includes more than 1,000 congregations with more than 200,000 members – perhaps 35,000 of them in the Bay Area.
The group was formed in 1961 by the merger of Unitarians (Congregationalists who “believed in the unity, or single aspect, of God”, rather than the Holy Trinity) with Universalists (who believed in universal salvation – “that all people will eventually be reconciled with God.”) Unitarian-Universalism welcomes people with diverse beliefs.
Individual members may draw inspiration from many different religious and philosophical traditions.
UUA congregations have a history of efforts for social justice, like participating in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s or addressing contemporary issues like homelessness, hunger and discrimination.
For the past three decades a local Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship has met at various locations in South County, currently on the second and fourth Sunday of each month. Seeking to act as a moral force in the world, they treasure their rich pluralism that includes former Jews, Roman Catholics and Protestants, as well as agnostics and atheists.
There is no professional minister. Members take turns facilitating the 90-minute sessions. Collections donated from the membership during meetings are used for projects such as aiding the victims of the earthquake in Haiti and the tsunami in Japan, giving scholarships to Gavilan College nursing students, and helping to get Gilroy’s new Compassion Center organized and in operation.
Each meeting follows a general format: candle lighting, welcome song, business/announcements, collection, music, a presentation/discussion, closing ceremony and refreshments. The program can focus on any topic of interest to members such as:
– The Arab Spring
– History of religion in China
– Local homelessness
– Sikhism and other religions
– Laughter therapy.
Often the speaker is a guest with special knowledge of the subject under consideration, and spirited discussion follows.
Members of the South Valley Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship are “grateful for the religious pluralism which enriches and ennobles their faith and are inspired to deepen their understanding and expand their vision.” They welcome others in the community who wish to follow this pathway to spirituality and service to those in need.
The group had been meeting upstairs at Lizarran Tapas restaurant, which recently closed. They now seek a new space to hold their bi-weekly meetings at minimal cost. To find out more about this group or to suggest an available location, please call co-president Jan Chargin at (408) 848-3837 or email her at [email protected]
For more information about “a religion that embraces many different beliefs … including yours” go to www.uuba.org or www.uua.org.

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