Liberal Religion

Hopedale Unitarian Parish is a creedless, liberal religious community in covenant with the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations.   

Here you will find people who claim a wide variety of spiritual and philosophical identities including atheism, humanism, liberal Christianity, Buddhism, and Paganism. What holds our community together is not a common creed, but a covenant of how we will live in spiritual community together.  We renew this covenantal promise to each other each Sunday:

 

Love is the spirit of our church,and service is its law.

This is our great covenant: To dwell together in peace;

to seek the truth in love; and to help one another.

 

The 5 Smooth Stones of Religious Liberalism

Although we may have different philosophical approaches as individuals, there are some commonalities to our approach to the spiritual life.  Unitarian theologian James Luther Adams called these ideas “Principles for a Free Faith” and we commonly refer to them as the five smooth stones of liberal religion:

  • “Religious liberalism depends on the principle that ‘revelation’ is continuous.” Our religious tradition is a living tradition because we are always learning new truths.  We call Unitarian Universalism a  Living Tradition and we are a hopeful people because we are always evolving and learning.
  • “All relations between persons ought ideally to rest on mutual, free consent and not on coercion.” We freely choose to enter into relationship with one another. Love is the spirit of our faith.
  • “Religious liberalism affirms the moral obligation to direct one’s effort toward the establishment of a just and loving community. It is this which makes the role of the prophet central and indispensable in liberalism.”  We have a religious responsibility to create the beloved community.
  • “… [W]e deny the immaculate conception of virtue and affirm the necessity of social incarnation.” Good things don’t just happen, people make them happen. We affirm human agency and courage it takes to work for good in the world.
  • “Liberalism holds that the resources (divine and human) that are available for the achievement of meaningful change justify an attitude of ultimate (if not immediate) optimism.”  Trusting in this  helps us be a joyful people.

Adams’ five smooth stones are explained in the essay “Guiding Principles for a Free Faith” in On Being Human Religiously: Selected Essays in Religion and Society, Max Stackhouse, ed. Beacon Press, 1976, pp. 12—20. You can download a PDF of the entire essay by clicking here: Guiding Principles for a Free Faith.

 

The 7 Principles of Unitarian Universalism

We also covenant with the Unitarian Universalist Association around Seven Principles:

Our seven guiding principles:

  • The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
  • Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
  • Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
  • A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
  • The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
  • The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
  • Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

 

The 6 Sources of Spiritual Wisdom

Unitarian Universalists rely on six sources of spiritual inspiration for our Living Tradition. These are:

  • Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life;
  • Words and deeds of prophetic women and men which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love;
  • Wisdom from the world’s religions which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life;
  • Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God’s love by loving our neighbors as ourselves;
  • Humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science, and warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit;
  • Spiritual teachings of earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.

 

Voices of a Liberal Faith – A video introduction to Unitarian Universalism