UUism: Interfaith by default

August 29, 2014 at 10:40 pm 8 comments

On Wild Hunt the question was asked of several Pagan/polytheist leaders-

Is Interfaith work necessary or a distraction? 

Both broader interfaith (Paganism + Abrahamic + Dharmic + indigenous religions etc) and interfaith within the “Pagan umbrella” were affirmed by various leaders as being important. A further level is intrafaith, one commenter pointed out the work (he? she?) does among different types of Heathenry. I like what Sannion had to say, that it depends on what work an individual is called to do. 

Unitarian Universalism is of course a interfaith religious structure/value system/philosophy unto itself. I think the time has come for us to stop presenting Paganism a giant blob and talk about individual religions. Paganism’s entry point into UUism was via the feminist movement, specifically in classes called “Rise Up and Call Her Name” and “Cakes for the Queen of Heaven” that studied goddesses from around the world as well as rising awareness of ecological issues and their spiritual dimensions. As a result sometimes there is an assumption that it’s a “women’s spirituality” group. (There is a “Women’s Wisdom” group at Unity Unitarian*, but I haven’t gone to it, so I don’t really know what it entails.)

From what I’ve noticed around Unity, a lot of people have very loose spiritual identifications beyond UU, they are just sort of generically spiritually, or agnostic, or tentatively exploring different religions and philosophies. I’ve noticed that when an opportunity comes up to learn about a specific religion many people are very interested and curious, including my partner who doesn’t normally attend services. I came to Unity with more of an expectation that different religions would be discussed each Sunday, and perhaps passages from different holy texts might be used, but for the most part music, sermons and readings are chosen to fit in with a monthly worship theme. Specific religions are referenced here and there, but for the most part it’s kept pretty general. 

I’ve never been that interested in trying to form a CUUPs group at Unity because I didn’t want something that was super spiritually generic. I’m already at a Unitarian church, and I also have the luxury of a good-sized Pagan community and I can celebrate Wiccan style Sabbats with them if I want. (For some folks, the UUs are the only Pagan-friendly option in their area) I would be interested in a discussion group of some sort- heck I’d be interested in that in a general Pagan context too, but I suspect I’d have an easier time getting UUs to actually show up! However if I were to start such a thing, I could certainly advertise within the broader community. It doesn’t help however that there was at one time a CUUPS leader in the Twin Cities who developed a bad reputation among the general Pagan community. I don’t know how much I’ve heard is rumor, and how much is truth, however. I’m also not sure if the CUUPs chapter is still active. If they are, I haven’t noticed much outreach from them to the broader Pagan community.  Oddly enough, the church is based in is known for being really humanist. (Whereas at Unity people seem capable of using God-talk without flinching)

I’ve met a couple of people at Unity who identified as “Earth-based” while not going into specifics and plenty of others who express a general spiritual connection with nature. Heck plenty of people feel that, no Pagan community is required! There is one lady who is very into the Goddess/Divine Feminine, I suspect in a more psychological Jungian New Agey sort of way. Another lady is really big into astrology. So yeah, I’m not sure where to start here!

*Note Unity Unitarian Church in St. Paul, MN not to be confused with Unity Church, the New Thought Christian denomination!


Entry filed under: Feminism/Gender, Interfaith, Pagan Communities, Unitarian Universalism. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

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8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. tressabelle  |  August 30, 2014 at 12:27 am

    Are you talking about a UU fellowship that’s named Unity, or are you comparing Unitarian Universalism with the Unity church? My town has both a UU and a Unity. The UU is mostly Humanists with a few Pagans, but the Unity church here is New Age Christian.

    • 2. caelesti  |  August 30, 2014 at 12:30 am

      Oh, sorry, assumption based on context of mentioning Unity in past posts. I will clarify It’s named Unity Unitarian Church, so yeah not Unity the New Age Christian group, though I think there is one in the area.

  • 3. tressabelle  |  August 30, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    There’s a women’s wisdom group at my UU too. It isn’t Pagan, but is Pagan-friendly. I started a CUUPs group with a couple other folks at our local UU (in NW Arkansas) back in the early 2000’s, but it didn’t last long. Another (less official) Pagan group arose there a few years ago and lasted longer. My ADF group is going to be meeting there this fall. It will be interesting to see how it goes. I’ve heard that a lot of other ADF groves meet at UUs.

  • 4. hannahgivens  |  August 31, 2014 at 1:14 am

    I’m thinking of visiting a local Unitarian church… It may be totally different here (thanks, Alabama) but thanks for the info, I do a lot better when I have an idea of what I’m getting into. 🙂

    • 5. caelesti  |  August 31, 2014 at 11:42 pm

      It might not be as different as you think! I’ve heard of some quite spunky Unitarian folks in the South. UU churches vary widely, depending on who attends them and what they’re interested in. Some are more Christian-y, others more humanist or Buddhist or Pagan/earth-centered etc. In addition to my own church in St. Paul and several others in the Twin Cities area, I’ve also visited a church in Chicago (designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, who was a UU!) and in Laramie, Wyoming, where my parents live. Laramie has a fellowship, a smaller lay-led congregation. They seemed pretty similar to my church in the mix of liberal Christianity, humanism and interfaith sprinkles. I hope you enjoy your visit- remember it might take going there several times to get a “feel” for what the congregation is like, there are often different people giving sermons, style of music etc at different services.

      • 6. hannahgivens  |  August 31, 2014 at 11:42 pm

        That’s reassuring. 🙂 Thanks!

  • 7. Ima B. Musing  |  September 2, 2014 at 11:53 pm

    Each UU (Unitarian Universalist) congregation is different. If you aren’t comfie with one group, explore another. I agree that Unity Unitarian in St. Paul MN is a “classical” place and they really should include more variety in their services but it is still welcoming to pagans. They have a cool spring equinox service, very Celtic.

    • 8. caelesti  |  September 3, 2014 at 12:37 am

      I like Unity for the most part. I am just working on coming up with ideas on adding to the diversity.


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