In this video: Find out who we are, what we do, and why it matters.
Video: Copyright Unitarian Universalist Association
Why do Unitarian Universalists have such a long name!? Do Unitarian Universalists believe in God? Do they believe in Jesus? What about the Bible? What do they do at church? What about politics? Rev. Abhi Janamanchi, Senior Minister at Cedar Lane, helps us with the answers.
What does it mean to be Unitarian Universalist?
Being a Unitarian Universalist means taking personal responsibility for your own religious life. No one will try to remake you. We won't offer you "final and absolute truths" or rigid dogma. Instead, we try to provide a stimulating and congenial atmosphere in which you may seek answers, in which you may ask new questions, in which you are free to discover the best that is in you. We reject the idea that a book or institution is superior to the conscience and intellect of a morally responsible human being. We affirm that your spiritual well-being is yours to determine. No one else can live your own life for you.
Who are we?
Cedar Lane includes liberal Christians, liberal Jews, Buddhists, Humanists, Hindus, Atheists, and others. We do not wear these labels conspicuously, but blend together, always curious and searching for meaningful ways to look at life and religious experience. We are people of faith who are not afraid of questions. We prize diversity. We enjoy discussion, and sharing insights.
Cedar Lane has been a liberal religious presence in Montgomery County since 1951. When we were first founded, we referred to our church is Unitarian Church of Montgomery County, but in 1961, we changed our name to Cedar Lane Unitarian Church, as River Road Unitarian Universalist Congregation had by then attained status as a church. It was on April 21, 1996 that Cedar Lane voted to include the word Universalist in the church title.
History, Belief, and Practice
The word Unitarian was first used in 1600 to refer to people who believed that Jesus was a great human being, but not God. The word Universalist was first used in 1626 to describe those who believed in universal salvation— everyone will go to heaven. Unitarianism and Universalism merged in 1961. As spiritual beliefs are matters of individual conscience, Unitarian Universalists affirm no central creed. Traditionally the use of reason has been the unique quality of our religion. We wish to encourage caring, supportive relationships between people. We are also concerned about peoples' relationship with the environment. Our Seven Principles reflect our convictions and practice.
Our Symbol: The Flaming Chalice
The Unitarian Service Committee used the symbol of a flaming chalice during WWII in their work assisting political refugees. Since then, lighting a chalice has become a ritual in worship, recalling the principles of justice and compassion reflected in the Service Committee's ministry. The flaming chalice has come to represent the Unitarian Universalist movement as a whole. Unitarian Universalists offer a "free pulpit" and a "free pew"; worship leaders are free to speak the truth as they know it without censure while the recipients of a preacher's message are also free to accept or reject this truth. In this way, we seek to create a free and respectful environment for open sharing of beliefs about the most challenging questions in human living.