UNITARIAN UNIVERSALISM (UU)
The union of the Unitarian religion with the Universalism forms he Unitarian Universalist Association, which is also termed as UUA in short.
The Unitarians originated in the sixteenth century, whereas the Universalism formed in the seventeenth and eighteenth century. The two liberal protestant denominations joined in 1961 to form the Unitarian Universalist cult.
It was founded in USA in Boston, Massachuetts. In central Europe, a group of humanists reviewed the Bible anf found no mention of the word 'Trinity' and affirmed the singular nature of God.
Hence, they named themselves as Unitarians. While the Universalists, the liberal religious groups, found a little mention of hell, when they studied the Bible.
They were reluctant to beleive in Hell and completely scrapped the concept of hell. Further, they established a belief that all people will go to heaven regardless of their deeds and faith and hence the salvation is universal.
UU Church of Buffalo
As on today, as per the information available, there are more than 800,000 UUs all over the world and mostly in USA.There are various types in UUs.
Some UU's claim to be Christians, some claim to be agnostic, Buddhist, Hindu, or even pagan. Some Unitarian Universalists are nontheists and do not find language about God useful. Some UUs may be highly believing in God.
However many of them believe that belief in God is too exclusionary, so they don't have much regard for its use. As far as Jesus Christ is concerned, the UU's deny his deity and believe Jesus Christ as an example of a moral man.
So it is not practical to call the UU cult as Christians. The Unitarian Universalist commonly use Bible as the sacred text. However Unitarian Universalism does not have any most sacred or authoritative text, but use sacred texts from a various traditions or even none at all.
1- UUs have no set beliefs and that is its defining characteristic.
2- UUs commonly draw their beliefs from more than one religious or philosophical tradition.
3- UU is a liberal religion,having its historical roots in the Jewish and Christian traditions.
4- UUs believe that personal experience and conscience is the final authorities in religion.
5- UUs believe that the religious authority lies in ourselves and not in a book, person or institution.
6- UU is a 'non-creedal' religion.
7- UUs may reconise any tradition that is meaningful to them.
Even though the Unitarian Universalism has no standards of belief, the Unitarian Universalist Association has adopted a set of 'Principles, Purposes and Sources' that express principles adopted by most of the Unitarian Universalists.
The customs of the Unitarian Universalist are a combination of Protestant Christian forms and contents of various religious traditions.
The Religious services are generally held on Sundays and mostly resemble the Protestant services in outward forms. The service consists of a sermon, reciting of hymns and prayers etc.
UU has its own catalogue of hymnals and songbooks, which are the original compositions, as well as derived from the various traditions.
Baptism is not generally practiced and Communion also is not often found in Unitarian Universalist congregations. Life events are marked with special ceremonies.
Replacing the traditional Christian communion of bread and wine are two original Unitarian Universalist rituals. The Flower Communion and Water Communion are celebrated every year.
The flower Communion
It was started by Norbert Capek (1870-1942), which was first celebrated in 1923. Flower Communion is usually held in the spring.
The congregation members are asked to bring fresh flowers to the service and as they enter the church, the flower is placed in a large vase.
During the service, the minister consecrates the flowers.While leaving,every member picks up a flower from the vase,other than the one placed by him.
The significance of the flower Communion may be understood as follows, though every indivisual has his own meaning for it - Like no two flowers are similar in their looks and type, no two people are similar.
Yet each has a contribution towards life. Various flowers make a beutiful garden and also a beautiful bouquet. Similarly the involvement of every member is important in the church community.
Each member picks up a flower shared by someone else,which shows the shared celebration in the community.
The Water Communion
It is practised by UUs, but not to the level of Flower Communion. It was first celebrated in 1980 and marks the reunion of a congregation that is often scattered over the summer.
The members of congregation collect small quantities of water from various places they travel through out the year and during the service, each person adds his share of water to a bowl and describes the source of water.
The final bowl of water symbolises the united lives of the congregation and a small part of it is reserved for ceremonial purposes throughout the year.
Remaining part is maintained for the fothcoming Water Communion, which symbolises the connection of lives over the year.
Holidays from various religions may be celebrated at a Unitarian Universalist church.