Did you know that there is now a Unitarian Universalist club on campus? Charlotte Cramer, first year and UU herself, wishes to bring this religion to campus not only to create a space for the religion and its principles, but also to promote the acceptance and action UU holds at the core of its beliefs.
Unitarian Universalism combined two religions in 1961–Unitarianism and Universalism. Unitarians believed in only one God and disregarded the Holy Trinity, while Universalists believed that all people go to heaven. The combination finds its roots in the transcendentalist movement and holds Thoreau and Emerson’s writing close. UUs have seven principles that ground them, including everything from believing each person has inherent worth to the dedication to a free search by each person for truth and meaning.
Some may question whether it is really a religion if it accepts all faith backgrounds, but UUs believe that all are forever on a religious journey and the seven principles help each person be the best version of themselves while on this journey.
Building one club to tie this all together may seem impossible; however, Cramer’s vision is clear. Each Sunday, the group meets in the Gomes Chapel to sit on cushions, eat candy, and talk about anything – from classes to a thought about what the purpose of life is. Many religious affiliations were present at the first meeting before break. “Whatever you might be, you can probably find something of meaning at the group,” Kiernan Majerus-Collins ’18 said.
“Essentially I got to sit down with a handful of other students who I automatically knew were very different from myself but to whom I was also already deeply connected in shared values,” Tara Humphries ’17 added.
Each month, Cramer hopes to hold a worship for all, though anyone is welcome at the weekly meetings as well. Worships for UUs vary depending on where you go, although all are commonly conducted in a circle, normally with candles in the middle. A couple leaders bring something up, such as a poem, and then pose a question to the group. All in the circle are then encouraged to speak if they wish. Sometimes the ‘speaking’ is done through activity, such as imagining a rock holds all your fears and placing the rock in a bowl of water to watch the fears wash away. Traditional discussions are also common.
In addition to the weekly and monthly happenings, Cramer hopes to tie in social justice and community service work. UUs were one of the first, if not the first, religious communities to recognize and accept LGBTQ+ people in the 1990s. They also had an openly gay minister in 1969 and a transgender minister in 2002. Their unconditional acceptance and work to support these communities certainly distinguishes them.
In essence, Cramer hopes any and all people interested in the adventure of exploring new questions feel welcome to Gomes each Sunday night at 7:30 or join the worships each month. If you are still having reservations, ask yourself this: “you came to Bates to be challenged academically, so why not spiritually?”