What would you like to know about New-Unity or about Unitarianism? We will be happy to try to answer! Submit your questions in the form provided at the bottom of this page.
||How is a minister selected in a Unitarian congregation?
||Unitarian congregations are run democratically by their members. This includes choosing and appointing their own ministers.
||Do Unitarians celebrate Christmas? If so, how?
||It is difficult to generalise because each congregation is
independent. This community celebrates Christmas (and holidays from a
variety of other traditions) in a way that attempts to be inclusive of people from many perspectives and yet authentic to the original tradition. We have Christmas Eve Carol services at which traditional carols are sung along with readings from biblical and secular sources. A variety of perspectives are offered.
| Q:||How would you describe the congregation to someone who had never been there before?|
| A:||This congregation is a place where very diverse people from many different faiths, traditions, beliefs and backgrounds come together to meet a shared need for meaning, purpose, and growth. Through Sunday services, spirituality programmes, and many other events, we create and deepen a community where - together - we find the support and freedom to discover our own way toward wholeness and the strength to reach out to help create a more just and loving world for all. We welcome everyone of open mind and heart, regardless of age, race, ability or sexual orientation.|
| Q:||What is a Unitarian?|
| A:||Unitarianism is heir to a long tradition of free thinkers and dissenters from many times and many places. We defy easy description because we have always refused to accept the dogmatic creeds of established traditions or to create one of our own. Nonetheless, if you insist on the freedom to think for yourself, believe that every person has an inherent worth and dignity, and understand that the encounter with different beliefs, perspectives and life stories enriches all of us, then you may well be a Unitarian yourself!|
| Q:||Are Atheists or Agnostics a part of a typical Unitarian community?|
| A:||Atheists and agnostics are most certainly a part of this Unitarian community. Unitarian congregations vary tremendously, so it is difficult to answer generally. At New-Unity, non-theists are very welcome and our Sunday services are meant to appeal and be relevant whether or not one is a theist. Unitarianism has no belief tests and emphasizes "deeds, not creeds" - in other words, religion is how we live, not what we believe. |
A final point: the terms atheist and agnostic are increasingly hard to define. If they mean not believing in a bearded old white man on a throne in the sky who controls our lives, then New-Unity is filled with non-theists!
| Q:||Are polytheists part of your congregation?|
| A:||No one presently in the congregation describes themselves as such, but the definition of polytheist is rather fluid. Many people within the congregation, however, find the sacred throughout the universe without identifying the sacred elements as deities. It is a matter of definition whether this would be termed polytheism, pantheism or something else - and we are not overly concerned with such matters. Our religion is measured in how we live, rather than what we believe.|
| Q:||Whats your view on homosexuality and civil partnerships?|
| A:||Unitarians have been among the most welcoming of religious groups to people with sexual orientations and identifications other than straight. We are fully welcoming to LGBT people. We do not consider these ways of being as aberrant, but simply part of the normal diversity that we treasure. New-Unity is the only congregation of any sort in the UK that - in support of marriage rights for same-sex couples - refuses to conduct any legal marriages whatsoever until we can do the same for same-sex couples as well. More information about this stance can be found here.|
| Q:||Why would any christian church not want to be as welcoming and non-judgemental as you seem to be, given that the founder of Christianity was Jesus whose compassion for all was obvious and who told us to forgive endlessly? |
| A:||The simplest answer is that Jesus' words and examples are only a small part of what formed the Christian tradition as it exists today. While Jesus was inclusive of the pariahs of his time, many factors since his time induced Christianity to formulate rigid belief requirements. Such creedal tests help to prevent theological drift, but also create insiders and outsiders as your question suggests. In addition, the Bible is very open to interpretation and - throughout history - people have used its words selectively to support their existing prejudices rather than to overcome them. |
|Q:||What is your view on death/hell?|
|A:||Among Unitarians, such questions are usually met with exploration and dialogue. We cannot possibly know the "answers" to such questions and we do not believe anyone else can either. But we can authentically explore the teachings of the ages from many traditions, use our own innate reason and intuition, and learn from one another. |
There is a great diversity among Unitarians in the beliefs we have arrived at regarding death. Many Unitarians believe that there is some continued existence. Many do not. Among those who do, there is no broad agreement on details.
Very few Unitarians believe in hell, and those who do may have a very non-traditional view on that concept. Our conviction that human beings are essentially good long ago drew us away from the notions of hell-fire and damnation. We don't find a useful place for fear-based morals in our faith.
|Q:|| Do ministers of Unitarian Churches provide advice, support, and counselling to their congregation on life issues such as grief, loss, anger, depression, and conflict.|
|A:||Yes. Such support is offered in one-on-one pastoral counselling and in groups of people interested in specific issues. Additionally, Sunday services almost invariable touch on such issues, offering guidance and new perspectives on daily living.|
|Q:||Do Unitarians believe in the God of the Bible? And, do you use the Bible as part of worship and in services?|
|A:||Some do. Some don't. |
An essential fact about Unitarianism is that we don't tell you what to believe. We work together to try to find and follow our individual paths. We use our own reason and intuition and experience to discern what is true for each of us.
Biblical readings are sometimes used in our Sunday services. So are the scriptures of other traditions, poetry, journalism, art, etc. In this congregation, we don't privilege the Judeo-Christian tradition over other sources of wisdom.
|Q:||Would you consider getting a Unitarian church in the U.S?|
|A:||That's a funny question! In fact, the movement is much bigger in the US, where the name is 'Unitarian Universalist' rather than just Unitarian. Visit www.uua.org to find out more!|
|Q:||What is your stance on sin?|
|A:||Sin is a difficult word with many different understandings - some of which we find unacceptable because they suggest an inherent badness to human nature. A useful way to think about sin is that it simply the reality that we often fail to be the people we aspire to be. When we 'sin' in this sense, we need to recognise and accept our shortcoming and recommit to our high aspirations.|
|Q:||What do you actually believe; what certainty have you? How can you contribute to my soul?|
|A:||There is no certainty in this world beyond the fact that we will all eventually die. In the time that we are here, we believe that our job is to work for universal happiness and justice. We believe that every person has worth and dignity. Your 'soul' is precious and sacred, as is every other person. Together, we help each other grow into the wholeness that is our potential|
|Q:||Do you have prayer groups for those of you who do believe in god?|
|A:||Not currently but, at New Unity, every person is encouraged to take initiative to create new groups and programmes. If there is interest, a prayer group would be very welcome. Our leadership will respond to such a suggestion with the phrase 'how can we help?' It's also important to note that people who believe in 'God' do not necessarily believe in the same way. The perspectives among them may be as diverse as those who do not profess to such a belief.|
|Q:||Roughly how many people attend your services? |
|A:||They average around forty. At a recent service (not a special occasion) we had 68 people, including 13 children.|
|Q:||Are there members of your congregation who, whilst being committed to the Unitarian church, continue to attend regular (or not-so-regular) services at another place of worship, for example a more traditional Christian church, mosque or synagogue, perhaps remaining attached to a tradition in which they grew up, or in which they wish they could feel more accepted? |
|A:||There certainly have been people doing so in the past. There may be some currently. People are certainly free to do so and the response of the congregation will usually be to want to learn more about their experiences and their journey.|