Do you value humanistic principles? Are critical thinking and reasoning, the dignity of every person, science, and social justice important to you? Are you looking for like-minded people with whom to interact? We invite you to join us at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Jamestown on Sunday mornings at 10:30 am.
All of our members and visitors come from diverse backgrounds and belief systems, including having no faith beliefs. They are highly individualistic, free-thinkers who at the same time enjoy life-long learning with others. There is no test of belief to become a member, although our members share the basic principles of Unitarian Universalism. Joining as a member is as simple as signing "the book" in the presence of a member of the Board of Trustees.
The Congregation is primarily lay-led, with a group of volunteers assuming a great deal of responsibility for day-to-day operations. We are democratic in decision-making, self-supporting, and self-governing. We elect members to our Board of Trustees and decide on a budget. Board meetings are open to members of the Congregation. We also hold monthly forums where congregational issues and concerns can be raised and addressed.
Please browse this website and our Facebook page to learn more. If you have any questions, please contact us through Facebook or email.
Reflections from a long-term member, Dr. Jeffrey S. Victor, Ph.D.
Ways of Being Unitarian-Universalists Today
I. Varieties of UU Belief Today:
A. The following are some research findings about UU belief-orientations.
1. Most UUs have a primary personal belief-orientation. A national survey of UUs done in 1997 asked --- “Which of the following best describes your personal religious perspective?” The findings were:Humanist: 46%, Earth-Centered: 19%, Theist: 13%, Christian: 10%, Mystic: 10%.
2. This was a forced-choice question. So, people could not choose two or more overlapping categories.
There are really no neat categories of differences in belief between Unitarian-Universalists. Most UUs think of themselves as one or another kind of religious humanist --- rational humanist, earth-centered humanist, Christian humanist, or spiritual humanist.
II. There are Some Basic Differences in Emphasis Between UUs
A. Rational Humanist UUs -- are diverse atheists, agnostics and deists. They usually dislike any "God-talk." They emphasize the ultimate reality of the material, natural world, and skepticism about anything supposed to be supernatural. They accept the reality of impersonal, natural forces that influence human life, such as evolutionary processes, and the interdependence of natural and human systems. They hold that all morality must be based upon ethics for human relationships.
B. Earth-Centered UUs -- emphasize direct spiritual, or emotional experience, obtained through ritual practices that bring people in harmony with each other and with the natural world. An increasing percentage of UUs hold this perspective.
C. Christian UUs --Within UU religion, Christian UUs are now a small minority, who reside mainly in New England Universalist churches. They regard God as a personality who relates to the individual; but is not easily comprehended. They feel most comfortable within the Christian cultural tradition, asserting belief in a personal God, Jesus, as an inspiring model for moral living and in the Bible as a source of great wisdom. They feel comforted by prayer, familiar Christian liturgy, and by singing hymns.
III. The Role of Reason and Science
A. Rational Humanist UUs -- regard human reason and scientific inquiry as the main path to religious inspiration. They are wary of appeals to authority, tradition, and mystical thinking.
B. Earth-Centered UUs -- regard intellectuality and science as a kind of barrier to direct emotional, spiritual experience.
C. Christian UUs -- regard human reason and scientific inquiry as very useful in revealing God's will. (e.g. in Biblical research).
IV. The Role of Worship Services
A. Rational Humanist UUs -- Seek insights into human moral judgements and deeper insight into the impersonal forces that influence human life. Their religious experience is the cognitive "Ah-ha" experience of learning new connections in understanding the world.
B. Earth-Centered UUs -- Seek direct emotional spiritual experience through rituals, prayer and meditation, which encourage feelings of harmony with the community of others and with the natural world. They dislike sermons as lectures.
C. Christian UUs -- Seek connection with God, finding deeper meaning of Christian morality and inspiration to do God's work to remake the world in a more humane way.
V. So, What Do UUs Believe? Advice to UUs
A. You should say: “that is the wrong question for us”.
---- Don’t try to answer that question. Don’t be drawn into a dead-end.
---- If you are asked: “What do UUs believe? You should ask the other person, what is your way? And, I will tell you mine.
1. UU religion is much like Buddhism. It offers a path to travel, rather than a secure place to stay unmoved. It offers guiding ethical principles for living, rather than a set of beliefs to memorize.
2. We use reason, science and evidence as our way, rather than faith, blind obedience and tradition.
3. We use critical thinking and freedom of conscience as our way, rather than conformity to authorities or popular opinion.
4. We encourage curiosity and skepticism about easy answers as our way, rather than reliance upon one book, such as the Bible, assumed to offer all truth.
5. We encourage our children to see beauty in art and nature as our way, rather than to see sinfulness in the world and in their selves.
6. We seek justice for others in an unjust world as our way, rather than to ignore the oppression of others.