Our Foundation: History and Principles
Our UU and Congregational History
The national Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) was created in 1961 by the merger of Unitarianism and Universalism, both strong Christian movements through the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Today the denomination honors its past, yet lives a new present as a liberal faith of widely diverse membership and belief.
The Anchorage Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (AUUF) formed as a Unitarian fellowship in 1955, well before the national UU merger. Since then, AUUF has grown in members and settled in facilities to accommodate the increases. Check out the graphical timeline below for major highlights of AUUF's history, and read the historic timeline document for a more detailed glimpse of our evolution through the decades.
American UU congregations belong to the national Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) headquartered in Boston, but they are not directed by it. Churches write their own mission statements, buy or construct their own buildings, choose their own ministers and staff, create their own by-laws, collect and spend their own money, and elect their own officers.
Congregations vote for the UUA leadership who oversee the central staff and resources. The UUA offers congregational support by training ministers, publishing books and the UU World magazine, providing religious education curricula, offering shared services, coordinating social justice activities, and more. For more information, visit the UUA website.
If Unitarian Universalist congregations have one thing in common, it is the presence of the flaming chalice. At the opening of our worship services, we light the flame to unite us in worship and to symbolize the spirit of our work.
Hans Deutsch, an Austrian artist, first brought together the chalice and the flame as a Unitarian symbol as part of his work with the Unitarian Service Committee during World War II. To Deutsch, the image had connotations of sacrifice and love.
The flaming chalice combines two archetypes — a drinking vessel and a flame — and as a religious symbol it has different meanings to different beholders. Sharing, generosity, sustenance and love are some of the meanings symbolized by a chalice. A flame can symbolize witness, sacrifice, testing, courage and illumination.
Today, the flaming chalice is the official symbol of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee and the Unitarian Universalist Association. Officially or unofficially, it functions as a logo for hundreds of congregations. Perhaps most importantly, it has become a focal point for worship. No one meaning or interpretation is official. The flaming chalice, like our faith, stands open to receive new truths that pass the tests of reason, justice, and compassion.
UU Congregations: Common Support and Symbolism
7 UU Principles
Unitarian Universalist congregations affirm and promote seven Principles, which we hold as strong values and moral guides:
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.
6 UU Sources of Inspiration
UU principles draw from six sources:
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.