Principles & Purposes
Our membership is varied and diverse. Please take a few minutes to look at some background information about us.
Unitarian Universalists are guided by Seven Principles:
- The inherent worth and dignity of every person.
- Justice, equality and compassion in human relationships.
- Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregation.
- A free and responsible search for truth and meaning.
- The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and 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.
The living tradition we share draws from many 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 all 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.
Grateful for the religious pluralism which enriches and ennobles our faith, we are inspired to deepen our understanding and expand our vision. As free congregations, we enter into this covenant, promising to one another our mutual trust and support.
A Brief History
- The first organized Unitarian movement began in the 17th century in a province of Hungary as a protest against the doctrine of the Trinity. Early Unitarians affirmed a belief in the oneness of God. They believed that people should interpret the Bible in the light of human reason.
- Universalism began in England one century later as part of a movement linking the search for religious truth with progress toward social justice and equality. Universalists believed in universal salvation, that a loving God would not choose to save some people and condemn others to hell just because they didn't all believe the same thing.
- Both groups were persecuted by Christians for their beliefs and eventually came to America where they developed a proud history throughout the 1700s and 1800s. Women's suffragist Susan B. Anthony and American Red Cross founder Clara Barton were Unitarians. Ralph Waldo Emerson was a Unitarian minister for a short time and Thomas Jefferson also strongly supported the movement.
- The Unitarians and the Universalists merged in 1961 to form the Unitarian Universalist Association, with headquarters in Boston. In 1965, when Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. asked the nation's clergy to march with him during the civil rights struggle, 20 percent of Unitarian Universalist ministers went. One, Rev. James Reeb, was killed on the streets of Selma, Alabama.
- The Unitarian faith has been a part of Kansas City since the 1860s. Our church, Shawnee Mission Unitarian Universalist Church, was organized in 1967.