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Beliefs and Principles

Thoreau Woods Unitarian Universalist is a creedless liberal religious community and member of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations.  

Here you may find people who claim a wide variety of spiritual and philosophical identities including but not limited to atheism, agnosticism, Pantheism, humanism, liberal Christianity, Buddhism, and Paganism.  

We seek to provide an atmosphere of warm companionship and respect for free and inquiring minds, searching together for finer religious, ethical, and social truths, and we work to apply the best we know in our lives, in the lives of our children, and in the service of our fellow humans. 

What holds our community together is not a common creed, but a covenant of how we will live in spiritual community together.

Our Seven Principles are:

We, the member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association, covenant to affirm and promote

• 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.

The 5 Smooth Stones of Religious Liberalism

Although we may have different beliefs, there are some commonalities to our approach to the spiritual life.  Unitarian theologian James Luther Adams called these ideas “Principles for a Free Faith” and we commonly refer to them as the five smooth stones of liberal religion:

  • “Religious liberalism depends on the principle that ‘revelation’ is continuous.” Our religious tradition is a living tradition because we are always learning new truths.

  • “All relations between persons ought ideally to rest on mutual, free consent and not on coercion.” We freely choose to enter into relationship with one another.

  • “Religious liberalism affirms the moral obligation to direct one’s effort toward the establishment of a just and loving community. It is this which makes the role of the prophet central and indispensable in liberalism.” 

  • “… [We deny the immaculate conception of virtue and affirm the necessity of social incarnation.” Agency: Good things don’t just happen, people make them happen.

  • “Liberalism holds that the resources (divine and human) that are available for the achievement of meaningful change justify an attitude of ultimate optimism.”

Adams’ five smooth stones are explained in the essay “Guiding Principles for a Free Faith” in On Being Human Religiously: Selected Essays in Religion and Society, Max Stackhouse, ed. Beacon Press, 1976, pp. 12—20. You can download a PDF of the entire essay by clicking here: Guiding Principles for a Free Faith



Our Covenants

Congregational Covenant

Firmly grounded in our Unitarian Universalist principles, we join together on the path of spiritual and intellectual growth to:

  • promote knowledge and caring for one another;

  • celebrate community, acceptance, and tolerance for a more equitable, peaceful world;

  • preserve and appreciate the natural environment around us;

  • respect others’ beliefs while helping one another adhere to our principles and covenant;

  • work toward the propagation of truth and beauty throughout daily life.


Transitional Covenant September 14, 2014

We, the members and friends of Thoreau Woods Unitarian Universal Church, covenant to:

  •         Welcome all with joy and love

  •         Support each other

  •         Love the hell out of the world

  •         Listen with respect

  •         Maintain health boundaries

  •         Create a safe and caring environment

  •         Be an active participant at church and in the community

  •         Support the church financially

  •         Respect our differences

  •         Trust our leaders

  •         Treat each other

  •         Follow procedures

  •         Lean in and stay engaged

  •         Not have to get our own way

  •         Be stewards to/for the church

  •         Be kind and compassionate

  •         Continue to form this covenant

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