Courses, retreats and meditation apps can be really helpful. But humans are social creatures. We live in connection with each other.
“Community means strength to join our strength to the work that needs to be done.” – Starhawk (b. 1951), American writer, teacher and activist
If a community focuses on personal or spiritual development collectively, we have the opportunity to support each other and learn from each other. We go further when we go together.
Unitarians don’t expect all members of their communities to hold the same beliefs about life, so our congregations provide opportunities to learn from people with different worldviews.
About a third of our congregations are led by ministers, who have trained at one of our two Unitarian training colleges. Ministers are in service of their congregation, taking responsibility for the spiritual health of the community. They work with members of the congregation to do this – community members get involved in leading Sunday services, taking care of the chapel, welcoming new people, leading social action campaigns, running book groups, doing the washing up after a coffee morning – all sorts. Each congregation is governed by a committee appointed by the community, who make decisions to support its smooth running and sustainability.
The shape and style of a Sunday service differs between congregations, depending on the minister, the congregation, and the culture of the community. Usually there will be singing, times of mindfulness or prayer, readings from sacred texts, poetry, music, and a sermon or message. There are also opportunities for members to participate and share with the community something of what’s happening in their life. And people are always welcome to come along and sit quietly; listening is participating too.
Many of our congregations have moved their gatherings online during the coronavirus pandemic, and so it’s easier than ever for new people to try out a service.
Of course, being part of a Unitarian community goes beyond these services. Gathering together each Sunday helps us to live out our values through the rest of the week, in our work, in our families, with our friends – and most congregations will offer points of connection beyond Sunday services too, from meditation groups to social action campaigns.
The Unitarian community goes beyond individual congregations, and there are opportunities to connect with our national societies, or to get involved in supporting the whole movement.
Here’s a flavour of the way Unitarians are working to build radical, spiritually healthy communities, exploring the Art of Hosting principles of participatory leadership together in February 2020….