Some years ago, when I lived in England, I went to a Unitarian church, a church of “religious liberals”. I even led a couple of services introducing Pagan ritual (one for Imbolc, 1st Feb, and another for Beltane, 1st May) and I remember the time fondly. It was a small congregation, but very welcoming and active. I was a member for a couple of years, attending most Sundays,
There’s not many congregations in Spain (one in Barcelona and another in Madrid) and it can’t be recognised as a religion here because “it lacks creeds”. Individuals may come from a variety of faiths: Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Atheist, Pagan, Buddhist and so on. The lack of any single creed is integral to it. We can’t really talk of “believers” but “seekers”.
I think part of my affinity with Unitarianism is that it has a Christian past, like me, and recognises that as an important part of its history. However, the Church and/or the Bible are not seen as the ultimate authorities on religion, but that we have it within us to work it out for ourselves (conscience, reason, life experience, intuition, etc., “gifts from God” we might say). I grew up visiting Baptist and Anglican churches, and considered myself Christian until my early teens, but later my curiosity just “spilled” over the cup of Christian theology. I had my doubts, I prayed to God about it, and He gave me a very definite answer: this is the way I made you! Or as Jesus said in the Bible “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” – I reckon that includes any religious belief or practice.
I may not participate in a congregation but I still feel “Unitarian” (or Unitarian Universalist as it is in the US). My beliefs aren’t a fixed set of prescribed beliefs, they are subject to change and plenty of updates, so the idea of a church that not only tolerates but encourages this is extremely appealing. As one Odinist friend of mine put it “It’s seems very futuristic”.
Here’s a description of Unitarianism from the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches’s website:
We believe that:
- Everyone has the right to seek truth and meaning for themselves.
- The fundamental tools for doing this are your life experiences, your reflection upon it, your intuitive understanding and the promptings of your own conscience.
- The best setting for this is a community that welcomes you for who you are, complete with your beliefs, doubts and questions.
- In the spirit of civil and religious liberty, equality of respect and opportunity is for everyone.
We can be called religious ‘liberals’:
- Religious because we unite to celebrate and affirm values that embrace and reflect a greater reality than self.
- Liberal because we claim no exclusive revelation or status for ourselves.
- We afford respect and toleration to those who follow different paths of faith.
We are called ‘Unitarians’:
- Because of our traditional insistence on divine unity, the oneness of God.
- Because we affirm the essential unity of humankind and of creation.