First Parish Church of Stow & Acton is a Unitarian Universalist congregation.
Unitarian Universalism is a liberal religion with Jewish-Christian roots that encompasses many faith traditions and accommodates a wide range of beliefs. Unitarian Universalism and First Parish include people who identify as Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Pagans, Taoists, Atheists, Agnostics, Humanists, and others. Unitarian Universalism has no creed. It affirms the worth of human beings, advocates freedom of belief and the search for advancing truth, and tries to provide a warm, open, supportive community for people who believe that ethical living is the supreme witness of religion.
Unitarian Universalism emerged from two different religions: Unitarianism and Universalism. Both started in Europe hundreds of years ago. In 1961, these denominations consolidated to form the new religion of Unitarian Universalism.
Although we uphold shared principles, individual Unitarian Universalists have varied beliefs about everything from scripture, to rituals, to God.
The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) is a religious organization that combines two traditions—the Universalists, who organized in 1793, and the Unitarians, who organized in 1825. They consolidated into the UUA in 1961. Both groups trace their roots in North America to the early Massachusetts settlers and to the founders of the Republic. Overseas, their heritages reach back centuries to pioneers in England, Poland, and Transylvania.
Each of the more than 1,000 congregations in the United States, Canada, and overseas are democratic in polity and operation; they govern themselves. They unite in the Association to provide services that individual congregations cannot provide for themselves. Each congregation is associated with one of the UUA’s 16 districts. FPC is part of the Clara Barton District.
Watch this video to learn more about Unitarian Universalism:
UU PrinciplesUnitarian Universalists hold the Principles as strong values and moral teachings. As Rev. Barbara Wells ten Hove explains, “The Principles are not dogma or doctrine, but rather a guide for those of us who choose to join and participate in Unitarian Universalist religious communities.”
- 1st Principle: The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
- 2nd Principle: Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
- 3rd Principle: Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
- 4th Principle: A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
- 5th Principle: The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
- 6th Principle: The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
- 7th Principle: Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
Are We Different from Other UU Churches?
While each UU church shares elements with others, each is unique. Whether you find more similarities or differences is up to you: what you see depends mainly on what you look for!
We take pride in a few aspects of our community, which may not be unique, but seem to describe us well:
- We care for each other, especially when someone is going through troubled times.
- We love music, as an expression of the joy and beauty of life, and we have a strong music program.
- We are pretty down-to-earth, and while we value each other’s talents and achievements, generally don’t strongly categorize you based on “what do you do for a living?”