Unitarian Universalism is a liberal religion. Unitarian Universalists do not share a creed, but are unified by their shared search for spiritual growth, as well as a free and responsible search for truth and meaning. The roots of Unitarian Universalism are in liberal Christianity, and Unitarianism originated in Eastern Europe (Poland and Translyvania) and England. Unitarianism has had deep ties to both Judaism and Islam from its very beginnings as a separate religious tradition (see: Children of the Same God by Susan Ritchie). Unitarian Universalists uphold a deep regard for intellectual freedom and inclusive love, and actively seek inspiration in and derive spiritual practices from all major world religions.
The theology of individual Unitarian Universalists ranges widely, including Humanism, Atheism, Agnosticism, Pantheism, Deism, Christianity, Feminism, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Paganism, Buddhism, and many more.
There are seven principles which Unitarian Universalist congregations affirm and promote:
- The inherent worth and dignity of every 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.
Starr King School for the Ministry is one of two theological schools in North America with an explicit Unitarian Universalist identity and mission. Starr King has a more than 100-year tradition of educating Unitarian Universalist ministers and progressive religious leaders for spiritual and theological work in society.
Here are some resources that could help you learn more:
- Unitarian Universalist Association
The Unitarian Universalist Association Web site gives news and information about our contemporary movement and its more than 1,000 congregations. The site also offers a history of Unitarian Universalism’s origins, from the 16th century Protestant Reformation to the 1961 merger of American Unitarians and Universalists.
- Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee is a nonsectarian organization that promotes human rights and social justice worldwide. The Service Committee maintains partnerships in the United States, South and Southeast Asia, Central Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean that help empower women, defend the rights of children and support the struggles of indigenous people as well as oppressed racial and ethnic groups.
- Unitarian Universalists of the San Francisco Bay Area
Unitarian Universalists of the San Francisco Bay Area lists UU congregations in the Bay Area.
- Beacon Press
The Beacon Press is Unitarian Universalism’s voice for liberal religious values, publishes an array of books on current religious and social issues.
- UUA Bookstore
The UUA Bookstore makes resources available for those interested in learning more about Unitarian Universalism.
Other Online Resources
Starr King School also offers these online resources for Unitarian Universalist history:
- “Our Unitarian Heritage” by Earl Morse Wilbur, the school’s first president, a 292-page document available in PDF format.
- A History of Unitarianism: Socinianism and Its Antecedents, Vol. I (368 pages) and A History of Unitarianism: Transylvania, England and America, Vol. II (870 pages) by Earl Morse Wilbur, both available in PDF format.
- Biographical sketch of Thomas Starr King, noted 19th century Unitarian and Universalist leader for whom the school was named.
- “In Their Own Words,” proceedings of a January 2001 historic reunion at Starr King School of the Black Unitarian Universalist Caucus/Black Affairs Council and FULLBAC, their white supporters. Reunion participants were active in the black empowerment controversies of the 1960s and 1970s. A 72-page document available in PDF format.
- Wilbur Rare Book Collection, searchable by author’s name and date of publication.
Starr King School for the Ministry houses a 1,300-volume library covering the history of Unitarian Universalism from the early 16th century to the Rev. Thomas Starr King’s San Francisco ministry during the Civil War. The collection was named for Earl Morse Wilbur, the school’s first president (1904 to 1931) and the author of “A History of Unitarianism, Vol. 1 & II,” the first comprehensive chronicle of the movement since the 16th century. Learn more about the Earl Morse Wilbur Rare Book Collection.