Pagosa UU Fellowship Adopts ‘Declaration of Conscience’

The Pagosa Unitarian Universalist Fellowship has officially signed the following “Declaration of Conscience: as drafted by the leadership of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) and the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC):

Declaration of Conscience

At this extraordinary time in our nation’s history, we are called to affirm our profound commitment to the fundamental principles of justice, equity and compassion, to truth and core values of American society.

In the face of looming threats to immigrants, Muslims, people of color, and the LGBTQ community and the rise of hate speech, harassment and hate crimes, we affirm our belief in the inherent worth and dignity of every person.

In opposition to any steps to undermine the right of every citizen to vote or to turn back advances in access to health care and reproductive rights, we affirm our commitment to justice and compassion in human relations.

And against actions to weaken or eliminate initiatives to address the threat of climate change – actions that would threaten not only our country but the entire planet – we affirm our unyielding commitment to protect the interdependent web of all existence.

We will oppose any and all unjust government actions to deport, register, discriminate, or despoil.

As people of conscience, we declare our commitment to translate our values into action as we stand on the side of love with the most vulnerable among us.

We welcome and invite all to join in this commitment for justice.

The time is now.

To date, over 10,000 individuals have signed the declaration, as well as over 200 UU congregations across 50 states and over 600 clergy members. The declaration sets the stage for action, including training in intervening and de-escalating confrontational situations, as well as practical guides for congregations wishing to offer physical sanctuary to those at risk of deportation.

This sort of response in the face of threats to liberty, justice, and equality is nothing new for Unitarian Universalists. During World War II the Unitarians founded the Unitarian Service Committee to aid European refugees escaping from Nazism. In 1965, over 500 Unitarian Universalists went to Selma and Montgomery, AL to participate in the civil rights campaign; two paid with their lives. In 2000, the UUA became the first denomination in the U.S. to have women comprise more than 50% of its clergy. In 1970, UUA passed a resolution affirming support for what we now call the LGBTQ community, and in 1996, it was the first mainline denomination in the U.S. to support legalized same-sex marriage.

Individuals, regardless of affiliation, are welcome to sign the declaration at this website.

What Is Unitarian Universalism?
Unitarian Universalism has a long history, dating back to the early years of the Christian church. Some early Christians believed that God was a single entity and that Jesus, while a messenger of God, was fully human. This Unitarian idea was rejected in the year 325 at the Council of Nicea. The idea of universal salvation – that all will be saved – was taught by early church fathers including Origen and Clement of Alexandria. This idea was patently rejected by an ecumenical council in 553. Nevertheless, both ideas persisted and gained adherents. The first Universalist church was founded in Gloucester, Massachusetts in 1780. The first Unitarian church was established in Pennsylvania in 1794.

In the 1840’s the Universalists embraced the Transcendental movement and such luminaries as Emerson, Thoreau, Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and Louisa May Alcott joined the ranks. Both traditions were represented among prominent abolitionists and supporters of women’s rights, including John Quincy Adams, Julia Ward Howe, and Susan B. Anthony. For the Unitarians, the 20th century saw the rise of humanism and the adoption of that philosophy. Although the Universalists remained predominantly Christian, they opened to other paths to truth and insights from the world’s religions. In 1961, the two traditions combined to form the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA).

Unlike many other denominations, UU’s are not bound by creed and doctrine, but rather by a set of core ethics by which we live and base our actions. We live out these principles within a “living tradition” of wisdom and spirituality, drawn from sources as diverse as science, poetry, scripture, and personal experience. The seven principles are:

• 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 Pagosa Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
What was to become the Pagosa UU Fellowship had its beginnings in 1989 with topic-centered gatherings in peoples’ homes, beginning with just a few couples. Eventually growing too large to meet in homes, the group began meeting in the Archuleta County Extension Building in 1995. In 1999, the Fellowship became an official UU congregation and sought 501-c3 status.

During the period 2002-2004, the Fellowship met first at the Pagosa Lakes Clubhouse and then at the Pagosa Springs Community Center. In 2003, the group purchased its present location in Greenbriar Plaza and services commenced in March of ’04. Currently, the fellowship has over 40 members and many friends. It will be voting this year to apply for official status as a Welcoming Congregation with our governing body, the UUA.

Since its inception, the fellowship has been lay-led by many generous, committed individuals. This spring, the fellowship will be welcoming Pastor Dean Cerny, from Kanab, UT. The congregation will vote in May to offer Pastor Cerny a permanent, part-time ministerial position.

PUUF meets Sundays at 10:30 AM in Unit B-15 of Greenbriar Plaza, located off of N. Pagosa Blvd.


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