Claiming a UU Identity

Unitarian Universalist Origins: Our Historic Faith (Pamphlet by Mark Harris,

Cathedral of the World by Forrest Church, Tapestry of Faith, New UU, Workshop 1

Recommended Books:

UU Pocket Guide, 5th Edition, Edited by Rev. Peter Morales

Our Chosen Faith: An Introduction to Unitarian Universalism by John A. Buehrens and Forrest Church

UU Identity Exercise

The growth of our identity as Unitarian Universalists does not end with the journey that brought us through the church doors. Rather, it’s a process that continues throughout the rest of our lives. Like a tree, it is always growing, branching out, putting down deeper roots.

A person who identifies his or her Unitarian Universalist faith in terms of what he or she doesn’t believe rather than what he or she does believe is like a a “sapling.” This person may be a new member to the congregation or a member for 20 years. This person may find it difficult to describe him or herself as a religious person if he or she needs to use theological language to do so.

A person who is able to define her or his beliefs in positive terms may be said to be a “growing” tree. Length of time in the congregation is not a reliable indicator of this or any stage. This person may have been a member for a relatively short time. He or she is likely to be serving on committees, teaching in the RE program whether she/he has children in the program or not, and actively supporting the church.

A person who is accepting of all these stages of growth, who recognizes that the boundaries of each are contained in the other, may be described as an “old growth” tree. These people come to church, give generously, and support the RE program and other church activities. They are there for the duration and have weathered many storms. They are aware that Unitarian Universalism is much more than what they personally experience.

Now I invite you to use this metaphor to explore where you are in your own process of deepening your identity as a UU.

(This exercise is excerpted from the “UU Identity Renaissance Module Leaders Guide,” 2001 which is available on


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