Unitarian Universalism for the Twenty-First Century

Unitarian Universalism is a living tradition, one that evolves over time as we grapple with the largest questions that give life meaning. We have long held the values of our faith communally as a people, expecting to grow and change based on what we learn together. We should be proud that Unitarian Universalism offers us a way to live faithfully that remains relevant to these times. This is true in large part because we take seriously wisdom reflected through the lives of those associated with our member congregations.

Photo by Jack Jenkins for Religion News Services

During the 2022 election for members of the UUA Board of Trustees, the Rev. Beverly Seese used a term that set many UUs on fire. Many understood her candidate statement, and the discussions about it that followed, as a suggestion that the learning and growth we have undertaken together as a movement for the last thirty years and beyond, growth that calls us to “long-term cultural and institutional change that redeems the essential promise and ideals of Unitarian Universalism,” had gone too far. These words from the opening of Widening the Circle of Concern powerfully describe the long journey toward dismantling the legacies of white supremacy culture that represents our collective commitment since 1997 when our General Assembly passed the business resolution Toward an Anti-Racist Unitarian Universalist Association. Seese suggested that those of us who are younger or experience ourselves as regularly pushed to the margins might want to form “another branch of UUism,” one more attractive to our constituencies. She suggested we might call ourselves “21st Century UUs.” At a later campaign event, she reiterated her statement that she would support others to start a new branch, saying, “don’t change Unitarian Universalism.”

Twenty-first century Unitarian Universalists are simply UUs who remain active in the main priorities and longings of our living tradition. Since the Cambridge Platform of 1648 we have held our congregations as autonomous communities who nevertheless hold themselves accountable to one another and to the collective whole. Unitarian Universalism is a living tradition. And we are profoundly blessed by the decades-long work of hundreds of leaders seeking to make us more whole. Welcome to the twenty-first century, Unitarian Universalism. The world desperately needs your gifts.

Note: The middle paragraph of this page has been edited to better reflect Rev. Seese’s original words and subsequent appearances.