Our faith tradition is diverse and inclusive.  Historically, we grew from the union of two radical Christian groups: the Universalists, who organized in 1793, and the Unitarians, who organized in 1825. Those two joined together in 1961 to become the Unitarian Universalist Association.

What Unitarian Universalists believe today, however, is not limited to the Christianity of our ancestors.  We hold our beliefs as individuals, and have no shared creed.  Our congregations include people of many beliefs.  We do have a shared covenant — the Unitarian Universalist Principles, listed below – which guide our way of being religious together.

We Unitarian Universalists think for ourselves and reflect together on important questions:

Unitarian Universalists have many ways of naming what is sacred. Some believe in a God; some don’t believe in a God. Some believe in a sacred force at work in the world, and call it “love,” “mystery,” “source of all” or “spirit of life.” We are thousands of individuals of all ages, each influenced by our cultures and life experiences to understand “the ground of our being” in our own way. Unitarian Universalists are agnostic, theist, atheist, and everything in between.

We join together not because we have a shared concept of the divine. Rather we gather knowing that life is richer in community than when we go it alone. We gather to know and be known, to comfort and be comforted, to celebrate the mystery that binds us, each to all. Learn more.

We are inspired by beauty, truth, love, and compassion that knows no bounds. We are inspired by elders, by children, by courageous people, by community. By nature, science, the universe, and the creativity at work in the world. By the Bible, the Bhagavad Gita, the Tao Te Ching, by ancient wisdom. We are inspired by literature and poetry, artists and authors. As Unitarian Universalists, life is a constant source of inspiration, calling us to live with greater depth, connection, and compassion. Learn more.
Two of the big questions religions have sought to answer over the years are: “Why does life exist as we know it?” and “What happens after we die?” Unitarian Universalism won’t promise you ironclad answers to these questions. But we will promise you a community of learning and support to explore what matters most.

Unitarian Universalist views about life after death are informed by both science and spiritual traditions. Many of us live with the assumption that life does not continue after death, and many of us hold it as an open question, wondering if our minds will have any awareness when we are no longer living. Few of us believe in divine judgment after death. It’s in our religious DNA: the Universalist side of our tradition broke with mainstream Christianity by rejecting the idea of eternal damnation.

We companion dying people and their loved ones through the sad journey of saying goodbye, and the long journey of grief, and our ministers create personalized services that mourn and celebrate the unique individual who has died. Learn more.

Because we hold our beliefs as individuals, we have within our congregation a rich diversity of opinion and belief about prayer and many other religious matters. Some of us pray and some of us don’t. Many who do pray do so because prayer helps them reach out and know they are not alone in sorrow or confusion or gratitude. Few believe that God waits to hear and fulfill personal prayers. As one of our ministers said, “I pray not necessarily because prayer changes things. But praying changes me, and helps me find the courage and strength to work for the changes I think need to happen in the world. Learn more.
Unitarianism and Universalism both have roots in the Protestant Christian tradition, where the Bible is the sacred text, but today we look to additional sources for religious and moral inspiration. We celebrate the spiritual insights of the world’s religions, recognizing wisdom in many scriptures.

When we read scripture in worship, whether it is the Bible, the Dhammapada, or the Tao Te-Ching, we interpret it as a product of its time and its place. There is wisdom there, and there are inspiring stories, but scripture cannot be interpreted narrowly or oppressively. But in our tradition, scripture is never the only word, or the final word, because we trust in the human capacity to use reason and draw conclusions about religion. Influenced by experience, culture, and community, each of us ultimately chooses what is sacred to us. Learn more.

The Unitarian Universalist Principles

Unitarian Universalist congregations covenant to affirm and promote these eight principles:

  • The inherent worth and dignity of every person
  • Justice, equity and compassion in human relations
  • Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
  • A free and responsible search for truth and meaning
  • The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large
  • The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all
  • Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part
  • Journeying toward spiritual wholeness by working to build a diverse multicultural Beloved Community by our actions that accountably dismantle racism and other oppressions in ourselves and our institutions

We live out these Principles within a living tradition of wisdom and spirituality that draws from sources as diverse as science, poetry, scripture, and personal experience:

  • Direct experience of transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life
  • Words and deeds of prophetic women and men which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love
  • Wisdom from the world’s religions which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life
  • Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God’s love by loving our neighbors as ourselves
  • Humanist teachings which counsel us to focus on this life and how to ethically treat others, to heed the guidance of reason and science, and warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit
  • Spiritual teachings of earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature

These principles and sources of faith are foundational to our religious community.

How Do I Become a Member of UUCW?

The basic act of membership is signing the UUCW Membership Book. Your signature in the book indicates you are in accord with our statement of purpose.
Most members take the UU Orientation class and are offered the opportunity to sign the Membership Book – and join!

The UU Orientation is recommended, not required, for membership, so if you wish to join UUCW, simply contact Rev. Julie Stoneberg

What is required of members?

All UUCW members are strongly encouraged to:

  • Participate regularly in congregational life (coming to Sunday services, getting involved in a small group, reading the e-news, etc.)
  • Develop their spirituality and deepen their understanding of Unitarian Universalism through worship, workshops, Soul Circles and affinity group participation.
  • Support the church with their volunteer time by helping with tasks or events or by serving on a committee.

What about money? Are members required to give financially to the church?

Members do have to give at least a nominal financial contribution each fiscal year to maintain their membership status. Because the UUCW budget is funded by members’ contributions, you’re asked to give an amount that is right for YOU.

You’ll be asked to make a pledge of financial support after you join. Your pledge is a promise of how much you will give the church for that particular fiscal year; fiscal years run from May 1 to April 30.

UUCW conducts a financial pledge drive in March each year, during which each member or friend of the church is invited to commit to giving a certain amount of money to the church for the upcoming fiscal year.

Some people choose not to make a pledge but give as they can over the year. Pledges help the church plan for a balanced budget and are highly encouraged!

How will I know how much money to give? Here’s some assistance:

It costs $1100 per member to run the church for a year; $1909 per household

Each person determines how generously they will give, and we encourage members to give 3-5% of their income to the church.

The Board of Trustees has established a “minimum annual contribution” requirement of $100 per individual member. (NOTE: This minimum was established so that people in financial hardships might still be members.)

Other ways to give…

You’ve probably heard about Split the Plate on Sundays – we give half of all undesignated offering monies to non-profit organizations. The second half goes to UUCW – but is recorded separately from a member’s contributions toward their financial pledge. Our Endowment Funds and Build 2020 Capital Fund are also great investments for your charitable giving. Many members have UUCW in their wills for a legacy gift. And the Ministers Make a Difference Fund is a fund you can support that allows our ministers to meet members’ emergency needs, or address community needs.

Is volunteering required for membership?

Required? No. Encouraged? YES! We believe that all our members and friends have gifts they’d like to develop and use in the service of their core values.

Volunteering for a team, committee or in a leadership position are ways to grow your skills and your spirituality! We encourage you to volunteer not only because it helps UUCW, but also because when we give our time to a community, we receive more from it.

There are many ways to volunteer. For example, each Sunday, more than thirty people take on pleasant duties in the foyer, sanctuary, religious education rooms, and Community Room. Volunteers staff our committees, serve on the Board of Trustees, lead groups, teach adult classes, help plan worship services, help with office work, care for our buildings and grounds, and organize social justice programs and actions, and more. Our vibrant congregation thrives because of Volunteers!

Do I have to become a member to participate at UUCW?

We hope you will say “yes” to becoming a member of Unitarian Universalist Church West, but if you are not ready to join, please know that it is all right to enjoy what is offered, to volunteer, and to contribute financially. Members do receive benefits like the ability to serve in elected leadership positions, access to free services from our ministers, free and reduced-fee use of the building for life-cycle events, among others. They also gain the knowledge that they have made an important commitment to themselves, their spiritual growth, and to a community that has made some very powerful commitments to justice, equity, compassion, religious freedom, and the earth.

Need more information? Contact Rev. Julie Stoneberg or Vicki Banville, Church Administrator