The Living Tradition

I get a lot of… feedback when I point out that, despite a centuries-long legacy that got us to this point, Unitarian Universalism is less than 60 years old. The religion we teach today would be unrecognizable to John Adams, Clara Barton, and most of the other historical Unitarians and Universalists of whom we are rightly proud. Our Principles have only been ours since 1961, and they’ve been changed in the interim.

That is because ours is a living tradition, not constrained by immutable dogma and doctrine. It does not stop us from having debates over the course of progress. At times it has allowed us to make brand new mistakes from time to time.

At our worst, we bicker over loose definitions. We revel in the freedom to cling to our prejudices and dated views. We might cite to our freedom from creed to justify belief in things which have no place in the beloved community.

At our best, it also allows us to learn, to make amends, and to do better. We remember that we are equally committed to a responsible search for truth and meaning that calls us to recognize a belief that no longer serves our best selves. We accept encouragement towards growth and healthy connection.

Living things need room to grow.

Like all living things, it must adapt or perish, and it has changed a lot in the last 100 years. The ability to simply change is not enough, though; adaptation requires moving in the right direction or we risk failing to attract and keep new members to carry on the work.

We are stewards of a great theological and philosophical heritage. If we are good stewards, Unitarian Universalism will continue to have a positive impact on the world. If we are responsive, it will have a positive impact on us as well.

Our mission is to make Unitarian Universalism easier to understand and share with the world. Liberal religion has a vital place in making the world more just and compassionate. The more people who know about our Principles and goals, the better for the world. If you believe we do a good job representing Unitarian Universalism, we need your support to keep doing so. Whatever you can afford will help us fulfill our mission.

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