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Faith in our future

How can liberal religion speak and act transformatively in a rapidly changing society?
By Christopher L. Walton
Winter 2011

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"Solo Blue Dream Tree Spiral Night," by Joy Baer. Fresco. (Private Collection/The Bridgeman Art Library)

To mark the Unitarian Univer­salist Association’s fiftieth anniversary, two Boston congregations hosted a symposium dedicated to envisioning Unitarian Universalism’s future. Organized by the Minns Lectures—an endowed annual series sponsored by First Church in Boston and the Society of King’s Chapel—the two-day gathering in April featured six prominent parish ministers from around the country and drew approximately 100 laypeople, seminarians, and ministers. Participants brooded on some of our contemporary cultural, theological, and institutional challenges. Their focus, though, was on ways liberal religion can speak and act boldly, broadly, and transformatively in a society that has changed dramatically in the past fifty years.

The Rev. Dr. Lawrence Peers, a UU minister and senior consultant with the Alban Institute, moderated the event. In his opening remarks, Peers said that our numbers limit our influence, even if “we cast long shadows.” But then he asked, “How big is our faith? How big is our faith to hold and heal ourselves and others, to grapple with the emerging twenty-first century? How big is our faith to propel us in directions that are truly liberating for human souls and human peoples?”

Selections from each featured speaker are linked to below. Read or watch their complete lectures at minnslectures.org.

  • Risk Blessing
    To avoid decline, Unitarian Universalism must risk offering heart, spirituality, and blessing.
    by Christine Robinson

  • Our Shadow Side
    Unitarian Universalism is a religious movement that no longer takes religion seriously.
    by Marilyn Sewell

  • The Threat of Fundamentalism
    Unitarian Universalists must boldly participate in the religious marketplace of ideas.
    by Rosemary Bray McNatt

  • A Spirit of Fierce Unrest
    It is time for each Unitarian Universalist congregation to find its greatness.
    by Vanessa Southern

  • Willing to Be Changed by What We've Started
    Universalism resonates with people of all races, but our churches do not. Yet.
    by Robert Hardies

  • Faith Takes Practice
    Our religious ancestors recognized each day as a chance to form their spiritual character.
    by Ken Beldon


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