Who are Unitarian Universalists?
We are brave, curious, and compassionate thinkers and doers. We are diverse in faith, ethnicity, history, and spirituality, but aligned in our desire to make a difference for the good. We have a track record of standing on the side of love, justice, and peace.
We have radical roots and a history as self-motivated spiritual people: we think for ourselves and recognize that life experience influences our beliefs more than anything.
We need not think alike to love alike. We are people of many beliefs and backgrounds: people with a religious background, people with none, people who believe in a God, people who don’t, and people who let the mystery be.
On the forefront of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer inclusion for more than 40 years, we are people of all sexual orientations and gender identities.
We seek to welcome you: your whole self, with all your truths and your doubts, your worries and your hopes. Join us on this extraordinary adventure of faith. Get involved!
What do Unitarian Universalists believe?
In Unitarian Universalism, you can bring your whole self: your full identity, your questioning mind, your expansive heart.
Together, we create a force more powerful than one person or one belief system. As Unitarian Universalists, we do not have to check our personal background and beliefs at the door: we join together on a journey that honors everywhere we’ve been before.
Our beliefs are diverse and inclusive. We have no shared creed. Our shared covenant (our seven Principles) supports “the free and responsible search for truth and meaning.” Though Unitarianism and Universalism were both liberal Christian traditions, this responsible search has led us to embrace diverse teachings from Eastern and Western religions and philosophies.
Unitarian Universalists believe more than one thing. We think for ourselves, and reflect together, about important questions:
- The existence of a Higher Power
- Life and Death
- Sacred Texts
- Inspiration and Guidance
- Prayer and Spiritual Practices
We are united in our broad and inclusive outlook, and in our values, as expressed in our seven Principles. We are united in shared experience: our open and stirring worship services, religious education, and rites of passage; our work for social justice; our quest to include the marginalized; our expressions of love.
What do Unitarian Universalists Do?
We create change: in ourselves, in the world.
Seven days a week, Unitarian Universalists (UUs) live their faith by doing. Whether in community with others or as an individual, we know that active, tangible expressions of love, justice, and peace are what make a difference. Embracing peace, love, and understanding that goes beyond individual belief systems, we are creators of positive change in people and in the world.
The ways we do it:
- Worship & inspiration—Sunday mornings and beyond.
- Learning & growth—spiritual and educational programs for all ages.
- Action & service—volunteering and work for justice.
- Connection & care—caring outreach, mutual support, and small groups for adults, youth, families, and children.
- Celebrations & rites of passage—weddings, memorials/funerals, baby blessings, coming-of-age, and child dedications.
What are the Seven Principles of Unitarian Universalism?
- 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 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.
Why are we called a fellowship instead of a church?
Unitarian Universalist congregations use many different names: church, fellowship, society, association, and congregation are the most common.
The use of the word “fellowship” dates to the 1940s and 50s, a time when there were more people interested in coming together in Unitarian congregations than there were ordained ministers to serve them. A program of the American Unitarian Association now known as the “fellowship movement” began, under which dozens of small Unitarian groups led by lay persons were organized around the United States. KUUF came into being under this program.
Like KUUF, many congregations begun during the fellowship movement have grown and called ministers to serve them. Some congregations have changed their names from “fellowship,” to “church” or “society.” We retain the historical term “fellowship” in our name because, in its best sense, fellowship means companionship on the path, friendly relationship, a community of caring. And that is what KUUF seeks to offer: a spiritual community of caring companionship to nourish us to face the challenges our lives bring, and to challenge us to act for the greater good.
Are Unitarian Universalists Christian?
Both the Unitarian and the Universalist faiths arose from liberal Christianity in 17th and 18th century England and America, during the Enlightenment, a time of exciting Biblical scholarship and discovery. Our roots are in the Jewish and Christian religions, but in the ensuing years, our vision has expanded to include wisdom from the world’s religions, earth-centered religious traditions, feminist theology, the arts and sciences, literature and other cultural forms. We view all of these as valuable sources of truth, just as we view the sacred as being an inherent dimension of life. Some of our congregations self-identify as Christian, and some, including KUUF, have “Partner Church” relationships with Unitarian congregations in Romania which are Christian.
What does the UU chalice symbol represent?
At the opening of our Sunday worship service, we light a flame inside a pottery chalice. This “flaming chalice” has become a well-known symbol of our denomination. It combines two archetypes — a drinking vessel and a flame — each of which has many different religious meanings. The flame and the chalice were brought together as a Unitarian symbol in 1941 by an Austrian artist, Hans Deutsch, for the Unitarian Service Committee, which then was helping Jews escape Nazi persecution.
There is no single, official interpretation of the flaming chalice, and indeed, not all Unitarian Universalist congregations use this symbol. For us, the chalice symbolizes the common cup of seeking humanity — it symbolizes our beloved community. The flame is our symbol of creative truth, of illumination, of courage and the passion for justice.
The flaming chalice symbol is often set within two interlocking circles, which represent the two faiths which merged in 1961 — Unitarian and Universalist. The chalice is set off-center, to indicate that we do not believe our way in religion to be the only way.
In the illustration of the symbol which we use here at the Fellowship, the two faiths — Unitarian and Universalist — are represented by the two mountain peaks that form the chalice which cradles the flame. The mountains also reference our location just east of the beautiful Olympic Range. In our symbol, the flaming chalice is enclosed in a circle, but the flame breaks the circle, in honor of our conviction that revelation is not a closed circle, but is continuous and open, and also to indicate that our community’s doors are open to all.
How is the Fellowship Governed?
KUUF is governed by a seven-member Board of Trustees, which is elected by the members of the congregation. The board meets monthly and has general charge of the property and funds of the fellowship, the conduct of all its business affairs and the control of its administration, including the appointment of committees as the board deems necessary and filling vacancies on the Board itself until the next-scheduled congregational meeting. To learn more, click here.
I want to give KUUF a try, where do I go?
We’re located at 4418 Perry Ave NE, Bremerton, WA 98310, and services are every Sunday at 10:30 am.
You’ll find greeters inside the door who can help you find your bearings, or you can call us ahead of time at (360) 377-4724.
Do I have to be a member to participate on Sundays or in other activities?
No, definitely not. Any activity you find listed here on our website is open to everyone.
I want to join, what next?
Usually, people attend on Sundays for a while before they decide to become official members, but you can become a member at any time, whether it’s right away or two years from now.
Becoming a member of our fellowship is fairly easy. All you need to do is
- Find someone with a purple name tag at a Sunday service
- Tell them you want to sign the membership book
- Be in agreement with our purpose, as stated in Article II. of our Bylaws, below:
“The purpose of this Fellowship is: to seek the truth and deeper insights of all religions, and to draw from the wisdom of all ages and cultures; to respect in each other and in all the authority of the individual conscience and the freedom of the mind; to uphold freedom, amity, and equal rights for all people; to encourage the progressive transformation and ennoblement of individual and group life in accordance with the growing vision of humankind without bondage to creeds. To affirm and promote the use of the democratic process within our congregation.”
Sixty days after you sign the membership book, you become a full voting member, eligible to participate in the Fellowship’s democratic decision-making process.
I’m interested in visiting, but I want to know more?
If you didn’t find out what you wanted to know in the above F.A.Q., please feel free to give us a call at (360) 377-4724.