Our mission is simple: "To inspire more people to lead lives of meaning and purpose."
How do we do that? Less simple, but no less important. We do this by helping you to connect with your highest values and with others who share them; by providing opportunities for you to grow in wisdom and compassion; and by encouraging you to serve needs greater than your own. Connect. Grow. Serve. Easy to say - harder to do in practice. That's why we think "church" is one of the best places to put into practice what it means to be human. Life is not a spectator sport. It requires your participation and engagement with others. That's why we come together. Not to be told what's the gospel truth; not to be forced into some narrow system of beliefs; but to explore, together, the meaning and purpose of our existence through the lens of liberal religious values of exploration, inquiry, acceptance of diversity of beliefs, and a fearless search for truth and meaning.
Yes, but what do you "believe?"
- Unitarian Universalism is a liberal and inclusive faith concerned with religious freedom, spiritual depth, caring community and social activism.
- Unitarian Universalists believe that this life is sacred and that justice and compassion must be the foundation of our thoughts and deeds. Our focus in not on the afterlife, but on how we can make the life each of us is given to be more rich, meaningful and helpful for our own and for future generations.
- Unitarian Universalist believe we need not think alike to love alike. We respect differences of opinion and don’t expect members to ascribe to a particular creed or set of beliefs. Our beliefs are guided by Unitarian Universalism’s 7 Principles that form the basis for a moral, ethical and pragmatic way of life.
- Unitarian Universalists believe in deeds, not creeds. We believe that putting one’s faith in action is more important than subscribing to a creed and forgetting about one’s faith practice. At the same time, we are a covenanted community, which means we make promises to one another about how we will not only behave as a church community, but how we will support one another and this faith tradition of Unitarian Universalism, through our presence, participation, pledging and commitment to spiritual practice.
Yes, but what about...
- Jesus & God? There is no uniformity of beliefs in a Unitarian Universalist Church about Jesus and God. Some Unitarian Universalists believe that Jesus was indeed, the son of God; others respect him as a prophet, rabbi and teacher; one among many great religious leaders and thinkers. Some don't think about him at all, because their religious and spiritual practice is non Christian focused. The same thing for God in a UU church. There's a range of beliefs. Some UU's believe in, worship and pray to God; others are atheists and don't see the need for "God;" others may call God by many names; Higher Power; Spirit of Life; Transcending Mystery. Does it matter that one person believes in God and others may not? We don't think so. We think the conversation is enriched by such diversity of religious beliefs and opinions.
- The Bible? Unitarian Universalists believe that the Bible is a good book, but it’s not the only book that’s sacred. We acknowledge sacred texts can come from many sources.We use a variety of those sources in our worship services.
- Heaven? Hell? The "Universalist" part of Unitarian Universalism rejected the idea of hell over a century ago. There is enough evidence that human beings are quite capable of creating enough hell on earth in this life that we don't need to imagine some place after death. Same thing goes for heaven. However, we leave that up to the individual to decide. We generally don't see any evidence for a "real" heaven or a "real" hell - but, if the belief makes a difference to you, no one will object.
- My Buddhist-Jewish-Sufi - Pagan practices/cultural heritage and traditions. Can I bring those to a UU church? Of course you can! At this church we have, at any given time, hosted a UU Christian Fellowship Group, several Buddhist sitting/meditation groups, a Jewish group that supports the annual Seder dinner, a Pagan group or solstice/equinox planning group and a Humanist, Atheist, Agnostic Free Thinker Group. We call it a "hyphenated-UU," which means you don't have to give up an identity or practice or cultural heritage/tradition that is important to you. There's room for a variety of religious and spiritual practices in this congregation. In fact, it's welcome!
- My kids? What will they be learning? We've heard from parents that they are relieved to find a church where their children's religious and spiritual development is handled with such great care. West Shore has had a history of stellar, innovative, often cutting-edge religious programs for children and youth. Our intent is spiritual faith formation, which means that how they grow and mature in their understanding of faith and of what it means to their identity as a Unitarian Universalist is primary. How will their faith help them to make good and moral and compassionate choices throughout their lives is our aim. For more information about our Faith Formation programs, click here.
- Intrigued? What to know more? Check out the Unitarian Universalist website for more information and to get a broader picture of Unitarian Universalism to see if it might be right for you.