My Bio of UU (Part 3)

You may want to read if you have not yet Part 1 and Part 2 of this my bio of modern-day Unitarian Universalism (UU) before reading this which is part 3.

What is the result of the two major styles of UU having different core elements? Well the one I have called “intellectual UU” it has intellectual reasoning as its core element and the one I have heard and am calling “UU ecstatic traditions” it has ecstatic experience as its core element. I would say this difference it could explain why so many who are raised in UU community continue to not stay with UU in droves. Maybe I should back up a bit and say again that UU ecstatic traditions it came out of the UU youth culture and that it has not really progressed much beyond that even though it is now practised by many UU young adult groups in addition too within the UU youth community. I should also say that it continues to come under attack, more so though in the United States then in Canada. I would say one of the reasons UU ecstatic traditions has continued to come under attack is pure ageism. Another is power. I mean more particularly the fear of losing power and control. I should also mention that intellectual UU it continues to dominate the landscape within UU’s places of communal gathering. It even dominates the writing that is don about UUism, that includes in books and on blogs. It is also the only style of UU you find described as UU on UU congregational web sites. Its form of group worship “UU pew-and-pulpit worship” is don 99.999…% of the time at UU congregations, churches, fellowships and societies during their Sunday morning worship services. So as one who was raised in UU community, in particular as one who got to experience and help build and foster strong UU ecstatic traditions centred UU community in my local Young Religious Unitarian Universalists (YRUU) youth group as well as through it within my then district’s YRUU program I struggled and contuse to struggle to see how I can apply and have these skills valued as useful as I continue to move ever closer to being a full participant in adult UU. Yes I continue to be involved in UU community voicing this struggle rather then leaving UU as I could of like so many of UU’s former youth have done. I don’t leave because I think by attempting to give voice to the wonderful and vibrant practices and traditions of UU ecstatic traditions in a way UU adult joiners including those in p0wer locally, and nationally in the US at the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) and nationally in Canada within the Canadian Unitarian Council (CUC) will move the view of it from something that is only good for young UU’s (i.e. youth and young adults), but too something that can enliven and strengthen UU as a whole. I don’t think the problem caused by this UU split is only as a result of not allowing UU ecstatic traditions to mature but also the result of adults in power within UU congregations, and nationally in the US in the UUA and nationally in Canada within the CUC not giving the youth within UU a chance to play with intellectual UU in ways that wont hinder the continued flourishing and growth of UU ecstatic transmissions. Yes I think it would be a good step towards the flourishing of UU to have UU ecstatic traditions taken seriously as something that is valuable as as more then a good way to do youth ministry and programs. Another step forward would be to  make the learning about UU ecstatic traditions form of group worship “UU circle worship” a prerequisite of one becoming a UU minister. I don’t think it is currently a requirement but correct me if I’m wrong.


2 responses to “My Bio of UU (Part 3)

  1. Devin,

    I copied it from the UUA Ministerial Fellowship Committee’s guidelines for fellowshipping (denominational credentialing) on page 17. This doesn’t explicitly say anything about YRUU, group or circle worship, etc:

    “HUMAN DEVELOPMENT/FAMILY LIFE EDUCATION/MINISTRY WITH YOUTH AND YOUNG ADULTS: Candidates are expected to be knowledgeable about theories and research in human development and how these theories relate to issues such as aging, adolescence, parenting, and death. In addition, candidates should be familiar with issues, programs, and resources for ministry with youth and young adults.”

    Given denominational history, I would suggest that knowledge about the tension between pulpit-centric worship and circle worship would one of the “issues” that a UU ministerial candidate should be familiar with.

    Take care,


  2. Thanks Steve Caldwell for this.


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