October 18, 2011


Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 1:33 pm by Rev. Thomas Perchlik

I was reading some articles on Universalism and found an article written about the Schuylkill Unitarian Universalist Church.[STAFF WRITER, MARK GILGER JR.m MGILGERJR@REPUBLICANHERALD.COM)Published: October 17, 2011] This is part of what the reporter said:

“The Unitarian Universalism Association was formed in 1961 with the merger of the American Unitarian Association and the Universalist Church of America. It promotes the tolerance of all religions and respect of all religions writings.
Congregation members vary in their religion and personal beliefs and ideas, but they share the concept that individuals have their own path of fulfillment. The goal of the church is to help them find that path.
“We talk a lot about ideas because everyone’s beliefs are valued and their ideas are respected,” said Miller. “We believe in the community and the ability of people to come together to do good things.”
There are more than 1,000 Unitarian Universalist congregations in North America alone, consisting of more than 205,000 members.”

It made me reflect on the fact that many UU congregations have as their primary goal something like “to help individuals on their own path of fulfillment”.   As a mission that seems a little thin to me, and too self-centered. The article also talked about the congregation’s tolerance and creating “A place for people of differing beliefs to dwell together”. Coupled with a belief that all people can come together to do good things, this could be a powerful vision of the Whole World at Peace, but it is often the expression of a much narrower sanctuary for a small and edgy few to do small works of kindness and limited generosity.  I don’t mean to say anything negative about the Schuylkill congregation, I know nothing about them other than they fed a reporter rather bland lines.

We remain small because our vision and mission is small. To serve a few overly educated people is nice, but to change the world and capture the imagination, passion, and commitment of at least one in every thousand people requires a deeper purpose: to create deep peace in individual hearts and in human relations, to nurture virtue: courage in hard times, hopefulness for humanity’s future, compassion for other beings, transforming love in action, a fusion of science and faith.

My previous church said its goal was to create for all humanity, yes all humanity, an ever greater heritage of freedom, justice love and mercy. I would like to see those words appear in articles about UU congregations, or words like them, more often than our diverse beliefs, tolerance of beliefs, and vagueness of belief.

Do you agree?


  1. KAT said,

    as a non-UU, i do not think i can “agree” as if i know who UU are, and that “we” should be seen as more than just “tolerant, diverse, etc”. But, as a bystander, that i appreciate hearing a Reverend having strong willed beliefs in bettering the world, for All, not just to better the world just for those that happen to share ones own beliefs.

  2. J Adam Keith said,

    To help, Kat, Unitarian Universalism is a “faith” or “denomination” that comes together in the worship of that common bond of Tolerance and Humanity. On the whole, they are supposed to be “above doctrine” and “separate from dogma”. I’ve seen this to be the case here in St. Louis, especially with Reverend Perchlik, who besides being an amazing and entertaining speaker also seems to hold inside of him a light that waits quietly, pushing at the edges, for the day when those around him finally tear back the blinders and allow him to shine.

    One of the overarching goals of the UU Association is to bring a better awareness and spirit of community to the world, to bring folk into a fold of loving togetherness, regardless of race, creed, sexual orientation, gender identity, faith, non-faith, etc. I find it limiting that so many congregations, including a few of my own, have such a limited view of what “doing good works” or “tolerance” truly means. I think I agree with Pastor Perchlik in that I believe that a mission statement or unifying decree should mean more than just helping ourselves and our own limited congregation. I also believe that tolerance means more than just “allowing it to be around, as long as we don’t have to see it or talk about it or learn about it”. True understanding, True Love, only comes when we confront something head on, learn its strengths and its weaknesses, and face it with open and accepting arms. Tolerance is such a bland and sometimes despicable word, when our hope is not for Tolerance, but Acceptance, Love, Community, Togetherness, a world joined in all ways as a Conscious Collective, rather than Jung’s amazing (but limited in the physical and spiritual needs of a person) Collective Unconscious.

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