I had been so aware of the committee that wrestled together in the establishment of our Principles & Purposes, adopted by the General Assembly in 1985, that I had forgotten they were inspired by the original Principles of the Unitarian Universalist Association, as approved when the Unitarian and Universalist denominations consolidated in 1961.
In accordance with these corporate purposes, the members of the Unitarian Universalist Association, dedicated to the principles of a free faith, unite in seeking:
- To strengthen one another in a free and disciplined search for truth as the foundation of our religious fellowship;
- To cherish and spread the universal truths taught by the great prophets and teachers of humanity in every age and tradition, immemorially summarized in the Judeo-Christian heritage as love to God and love to man;
- To affirm, defend and promote the supreme worth of every human personality, the dignity of man, and the use of the democratic method in human relationships;
- To implement our vision of one world by striving for a world community founded on ideals of brotherhood, justice and peace;
- To serve the needs of member churches and fellowships, to organize new churches and fellowships, and to extend and strengthen liberal religion;
- To encourage cooperation with men of good will in every land.
The UUWorld magazine’s Warren Ross wrote, “The original statement of the purposes of the Unitarian Universalist Association, adopted as the Universalist Church of America and the American Unitarian Association were consolidating, no longer served the need [to describe the depths of our beliefs]. The statement’s precise wording had been a matter of such heated debate that it nearly derailed the merger at the concurrent but separate preparatory sessions of the two denominations the year before.” From the time the current principles and sources were adopted they have become an integral part of our understanding of ourselves as Unitarian Universalists. Still not a belief statement, they help galvanize us, expressing agreed upon values. The addition of sources of faith (originally 5 with the addition of the 6th source in 1995), describe and remind us of the fount of our inspiration.
“We would be one,” the hymnist wrote in welcoming together the Unitarians and the Universalists. This coming May, we will celebrate the 50th year of these two liberal faiths coming together to create one merged tradition. Let us look to our history as we ensure a flourishing future.