Reflections of the ministers and senior staff.


Reflections of the ministers and senior staff.
3 minutes reading time (567 words)

An Aspirational Pluralism

An Aspirational Pluralism

I will let you in on a (not-so-secret) secret.

Unitarian Universalists are not the only folk who hold pluralistic and non-conforming beliefs!  For some of us, this is not news.  But for myself, around the year 2007 living in Missouri, it was a great surprise to meet a Christian who was becoming a minister and didn’t believe hell existed.  He even said most of his friends who were becoming Christian ministers also didn’t believe in hell.  My mind was blown.

Around the same time, I was speaking with a teaching colleague (I was still an elementary school teacher at this time) who talked about her attendance at a Christian church, but privately to me also said she was completely an atheist.  However, she had developed such deep community at her Christian church, it felt like home, even if her theology did not actually match the congregation.

For some of you this may be news.  For others, you already know this lived theological pluralism and expansiveness to be all around us throughout life.

Now, pluralism is an important aspect of Unitarian Universalism.  It’s found in the principles and sources which make up the current article 2 of the UUA bylaws, and it’s also found in the proposed article 2 revision.  It’s an important aspect of many popular readings and sayings that come up in our tradition.  But I would argue that just having pluralism is not something that makes Unitarian Universalism unique or noteworthy.

What makes UU noteworthy is the intentional welcome of pluralism.  The desire to welcome non-conforming beliefs that are grounded in love and compassion for all.

There are ways this is built into UU culture and spaces.  Our sources of inspiration do not reside in only one text.  They are broad and expansive!  At ERUUF, we are lucky to have sources groups which invite folks who are interested in different theological traditions to gather together.  Our Religious Exploration programs have long taught expansive ways to be in the world with our beliefs.  Programs like Crossing Paths (formerly Neighboring Faiths) and Coming Of Age invite our youth to gain a deeper understanding of what other faith-based communities believe and then to examine what they themselves believe. (And both of these programs will be returning in the 2024-2025 RE year.)

But I would also say this intentional welcome of pluralism is aspirational.  It’s something we must aim to live into most fully as a community.  Because it takes tending.  It takes caring for our relationships. 

Because sometimes the words one of us uses for our beliefs are the words that were used to hurt another in the past.  Or there may beliefs we struggle to welcome that can be loving and welcoming, but we don’t understand them.  Or we may have been told something negative about an idea without actually engaging it and have carried that negativity with us.

If we tend our relationships, we find out more about the people we are in community with, discover possible loving ways of being in the world we haven’t known existed, and tend to the lived and aspirational pluralism we can create together.

So let us tend the garden of our relationships and find all that this world has to offer.

If you are interested in helping tend to the relationships and growth of our children and youth, please contact Rev. Jim at to chat about that possibility.

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