This goes out to those that are trying to define what Unitarian Universalism (UU) is in this the 21st century. That includes those who define themselves as a UU or a friend of UU including those that were brought up in UU community and may now be thinking do I still have a place within UU now that I am entering adulthood. It should be noted that this is just based on my observations and experiences as well as what I have red. You see I was raised in UU community at the First Unitarian Congregation of Ottawa, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada and my time in elementary and high school has been with only those who themselves were not UU so this will flavour my definition. So will my time as a member of Young Religious Unitarian Universalists (YRUU) the current organization for youth within UUism. I have also struggled with how best to articulate this. Should this be a straight up dictionary definition or is their even one single suitable definition. Maybe like in many dictionary entries there may be definition 1, definition 2 and so on till all the definitions are listed. Or maybe trying to define UU in a manner suitable for a dictionary is not quit the wright way to go about it. But despite the fact that what follows seems way too incomplete for me and not to fully capture all that I believe is encapsulated within UU I still believe it’s a good start. Yes I wonted it to be brief but as you can see it is not to be, but anyway here is part 1 of my bio of UU.
I have come now to realize what I love most, or more accurately have loved most about UU. It’s not don at UU Congregations on Sunday mornings during their weekly service and its accompanying fellowship hour. In fact it’s also not present on the more than 20 UU congregational web sites I looked at in my search to find out what I should put into this here bio of modern-day UUism that I have been trying to write. Nor is it something that can be described easily. It’s something that arose out of people who tackled religion, their own spirituality and religious/spiritual community not with a set of predetermined notions of what religion, ones spirituality and religious/spiritual community should be and look like, but rather with an open-mind and a readiness to accept what worked for them. These folks wore UU identifying youth and their adult allies. The path toward this side of UUism began to be lade out in 1954 with the merger of American Unitarian Youth, the youth organization of the American Unitarian Association (AUA) with the Universalist Youth Fellowship, the youth organization of the Universalist Church of America (UCA). This merger formed between these two youth organizations created Liberal Religious Youth (LRY). LRY would become the first youth organization within the newly formed Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) in 1961. The UUA was the result of the merger of LRY’s two parent denominations the AUA and the UCA. The UUA is also what brought about the formation of what we now today as Unitarian Universalism or simply UU. But it was not as I can tell from what I’ve read until the 1970’s that the traditions and cultural practises of this form of UU started to get solidified within the LRY community. Also based on what I have read as well as on my experiences I would also say this kind of UU has never really been given the opportunity too mature. In fact it was in the late 1980’s that it almost died along with LRY. Yes I have heard that LRY was shutdown by the UUA do to the fact that LRY became too much of a haven for illegal drugs and sex or was it only do to rumours of LRY becoming too much of a haven for illegal drugs and sex. Either way it was shutdown. But it was replaced be a new youth organization Young Religious Unitarian Universalists (YRUU) in 1982. Which thankfully managed to carry on some of the traditions and practices begun in LRY during its last decade the seventies.
So what are the key features of this brand of UU? How dos it differ from other forms of UU? Well that’s to come in part 2.