by MARY MCKENNA, Convener of Council
If we are Unitarians, what do we stand for? Can we be a religion without a prescribed creed? How do we describe the key characteristics of our community? If we are not clear about what we stand for we can’t complain when we are poorly described by others.
Some of us come to St Mark’s because we found the dogma of other religions restricted our enquiring minds; some found they were no longer relevant for the 21st Century; while others would not describe themselves as religious, and yet are comfortable within our community. I was attracted to St Mark’s because I found it respectful of my Christian heritage while encouraging me to thing beyond one perspective and to find inspiration from a range of sources. The Unitarian values of justice, compassion, respect and equity fit with my values, and allow me to grow and develop my understanding of these simple yet complex words.
The principles on which our Unitarian community is based have evolved over time from our Free Christian roots. In 2016 members and friends of St Mark’s were invited by our minister, Rev Maud Robinson, to revise and update these principles. We agreed the following six Principles:
• We nurture individuals in their personal and spiritual growth and respect their freedom to believe according to reason, conscience and their experience of the divine.
• We support freedom, exploration and respect for diversity in religion.
• We value insights from all faiths and world views, and acknowledge the Christian roots of our community.
• We cherish creation and respect the interdependence of the whole natural world.
• We seek to make our community relevant through public opportunities for spiritual exploration and practice; non-judgmental dialogue; and compassionate care and service to one another and to the wider community.
• We seek to maintain, preserve and enhance the church premises, which are provided for the use of our Members and the general public.
• We ask Members of our Society to share these principles.
When asked what are Unitarians these principles may hold the answer. However they do not trip of the tongue. Ida introduced a simple rhyme to the children to explain what being a Unitarian is, with actions in italics.
We are Unitarians
(Making a U with cupped hands)
This is the church of the open mind
(Opening hands covering eyes and forehead)
This is the church of the caring heart
(Covering heart with hands)
This is the church with the helping hands
At time when tensions between religions are evident and there is increased discrimination of people of religious faiths, Unitarians are committed to dialogue and understanding. These principles are even more relevant. This is what we stand for and for those of us who dare to dream of a world where love overwhelms hate, our principles give us a shared template for living our lives.