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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.

Fast Facts


  • 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 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).


Unitarianism developed from the Christian tradition and holds Jesus in high regard, but we do not worship him as such. He is respected as a great prophet and teacher.

Unitarians do not define God, as different people interpret the word God in different ways i.e. as a universal father or mother, as the source of all being, or as a great mystery about which little can be said. Some Unitarians do not find the term God helpful and would describe themselves as agnostic or atheist

Unitarians believe Jesus was a great prophet whose central message was the call to love, that he was fully human and we are ALL sons and daughters of God.

Yes, Christmastime is about joy, hope, wonder, love, compassion and peace. Christmas belongs to all who recognise Jesus as an inspiring, significant historical figure. At Easter, we do not believe in the physical resurrection of Jesus, but see it as to time to celebrate life’s renewal in the spring.

Sunday worship is a mix of prayers, readings, hymn singing, time for meditation and an address by the minister. Members of the congregation are frequently invited to contribute and to share joys and sorrows in candle-lighting.

No two Unitarian ceremonies are the same as no-one has the exact same beliefs. With weddings, we help couples plan their own service, from picking their readings to writing their own vows. We also don’t expect anything of a couple other than they be truly committed to their relationship as life partners. Whether you are divorced, of different faiths or same sex, we welcome all couples wishing to get married in our church.

Unitarian funerals celebrate the life of the deceased and even if the minister did not know them personally, they will make every effort to make the service reflective of the person’s qualities and beliefs, often done through consultations with their loved ones. We also do not use the emotional vulnerability of those in mourning to impose our beliefs on them.

Yes, both in our services and outlook. Many Unitarians see their faith as a spiritual journey of growth, harmony and understanding, involving both themselves and the communities and world around them.

Makanh Elizabeth Morris, a Unitarian Minister in Wyoming, USA put it well when she wrote “spirituality for me is about connections, with people, with animals, with nature, with energies deeper than the human eye can perceive. My spiritual awakenings occur as I touch and am touched by other parts of our miraculous web of existence.”

Unitarians believe all are entitled to hold their own views and to practice their own faith freely and so welcome everyone. Stories and readings from other faith traditions are frequently incorporated into our services and we embrace wisdom from other faiths.

Unitarians see human sexuality as a perfectly natural and healthy dimension of our existence. We recognise and value its role in bringing intimacy, tenderness and pleasure to loving relationships.

Unitarians embrace the whole spectrum of sexuality and gender. For this reason, we would affirm the right of all to give full emotional and physical expression to their sexuality.

Unitarians are much concerned with environmental issues. Historically, we have been deeply interested both in the scientific study of our natural environment and in seeing it as a spiritual resource – alive with the divine.

Throughout our history, Unitarians have stood for inclusivity, reason and social justice including gender equality (we’ve had women ministers for more than 100 years and were, in fact, the first church to do so), gay rights (we’ve performed same sex blessings for more than 30 years and were the first to perform wedding ceremonies) and the abolition of slavery.

We support equality of respect and opportunity for everyone. We totally oppose all oppression and discrimination, including on the grounds of any arbitrary or accidental factors such as race or gender, sexual orientation or religious belief.


Can you guess these famous Unitarians?

Christopher Reeve

An actor known for playing Superman

Isaac Newton

Discovered gravity with apples

Thomas Jefferson

The third president of the USA

Tim Berners-Lee

Creator of the internet

Louisa May Alcott

Author of Little Women


Can you guess these
famous Unitarians?

Charles Dickens

Author of Oliver Twist, Great Expectations and A Christmas Carol

Matt Groening

Creator of The Simpsons

Edvard Greig


Sylvia Plath

American poet and novelist

Paul Newman

Played Butch Cassidy in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Useful links for further information (the national Unitarian website) (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). (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).