About the Unitarian Church
Who we are and what we stand for
Unitarianism is an open-minded and welcoming faith that encourages individual freedom, equality for all and rational thought. In a culture where many are looking once more to spirituality, the Unitarian Church offers something unique. We do not expect or insist that everyone should hold exactly the same beliefs. Instead, you are encouraged to work out your own faith as we believe no-one should dictate what another person may or may not believe.
We see different opinions and lifestyles as valuable and enriching and do not discriminate on grounds of gender, age, race, religion or sexual orientation. We welcome anyone with an open mind who shares our tolerant and inclusive views.
Unitarianism is non-denominational, meaning we are open to insights from all faiths, science, the arts, the natural world and everyday living. Our services draw upon a wide range of teachings from other religions and spiritualities and religious iconography is rarely found in our chapels.
We are affiliated with the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches, whose symbol is the Flaming Chalice which represents belonging, acceptance and love and has links with other liberal religious groups across the world.
- We welcome all of every faith and none.
- We have no set creed and do not presume to define God for others.
- We believe that faith should be free from the constraints imposed by others, and do not insist that everyone should hold exactly the same beliefs – which is why you won’t see a crucifix, for example, in our chapels.
- We offer a unique spiritual dimension where each person’s spiritual or intuitive experience deserves respect.
- Logic and reason are more important to us than miracles.
WE ARE WE ARE OPEN-MINDED
- We describe ourselves as “nurturing faith, embracing life, celebrating difference”.
- Many of the first Unitarians were, in fact, Liberal Christians and believed “God” to be a unity rather than a trinity (the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit) – hence the name. Today, however, it’s perfectly normal to find Unitarians who do and don’t believe in God.
- We also reject several other Western Christian doctrines, including those of original sin, predestination and the infallibility of the Bible.
- We believe everyone should exercise free will in a responsible, constructive and ethical manner with the assistance of religion.
- We think no religion can claim an absolute monopoly on “God”.
- Some of us believe Unitarianism to be more spiritual than religious.
- Some of us also feel that the spiritual journey is more important than the destination.
- We were the first church to have female ministers back in 1904 and to marry divorcees of any faith.
- We were also the first church to offer same sex marriages and were at the forefront of the campaign to legalise it throughout the UK.
- Our Minister in Altrincham was the first in the North West to perform same sex ceremonies.
- We tailor services to faithfully represent mixed religious beliefs, using different language and customs for an atheist marrying a divorced Catholic, for example.
- We believe actions speak louder than words and that religion should make a difference to the world, so we are often active in social justice and community work.
- We hold regular social activities throughout the year including meetings, exhibitions, plays, dances and concerts.
- Unitarian ideas have been around since about 300 AD but only became significant in Poland and Transylvania, Romania, in the 16th century, coming to Britain in 1774.
- There are 170 Unitarian churches in the UK – 13 of which are in the Greater Manchester area.
- Famous Unitarians include Isaac Newton, Thomas Jefferson, Charles Dickens, Sylvia Plath, Christopher Reeve, Louisa May Alcott and Tim Berners-Lee (creator of the world wide web).
Can you guess these famous Unitarians?
An actor known for playing Superman
Discovered gravity with apples
The third president of the USA
Creator of the internet
Louisa May Alcott
Author of Little Women
Can you guess these
Author of Oliver Twist, Great Expectations and A Christmas Carol
Creator of The Simpsons
American poet and novelist
Played Butch Cassidy in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Useful links for further information
https://www.unitarian.org.uk (the national Unitarian website)
https://thenightingalecentre.org.uk (a holiday conference centre located in the Peak District and owned by the Unitarian Movement where throughout the year many Unitarian holidays, events and educational activities take place).
www.altrincham-interfaith.org.uk (bringing together the major faith groups in the area, to help improve knowledge and understanding of one another and to develop friendships between people of different faiths).