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The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Boca Raton Welcomes All Religious Backgrounds Under One Roof

By Kelly Church

Born from the merger of The American Unitarian Association and The Universalist Church of America in 1961, The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) is a religious faith that says their roots lie deep in reason, tolerance and justice from God, love, truth and life. Pulling from many different religious faiths, the UUA has fellowships all over, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Boca Raton in Boca Raton, FL being just one congregation where people can gather on Sunday to share and practice their mutual belief systems.

"The Unitarian Universalist tradition grew out of the Christian tradition, but is not a Christian faith," Church Manager Lynn Burns says. "Unitarian Universalism pulls from [six] core sources."

Burns explains the seven core sources as: direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder to achieve spiritual renewal; words and deeds of prophetic men and women to challenge each other to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion and the transforming power of love; wisdom from the world's religions as inspiration in their ethical and spiritual life; Jewish and Christian teachings used to respond to God's love by loving their neighbors as they do themselves; humanist teachings which counsel them to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science, while warning against idolatries of the mind and spirit; and spiritual teachings of Earth-centered traditions that celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct them to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.

"There is no dogma in Unitarian Universalism," Burns says. "This isn't a religion of belief as much as a religion of compassion and action. Each Sunday, at the beginning of services, we say our affirmation together: 'Love is the doctrine of this faith/ The quest for truth it's sacrament/ And service is its prayer./ To dwell together in peace,/ To seek the truth in love/ To the end that all shall grow into harmony/ Thus do we covenant with one another.'"

Sunday morning services start at 10:30 a.m. and last about an hour. Children are split up around 10:45 a.m. to go to their religious education classes. In addition to weekly services, the UUA hosts Vespers services on a monthly basis. These services are meditative, evening services and, according to Burns, the grounds are built as a labyrinth for meditative walks. Additionally, UUA members can participate in church activities: book clubs, movie groups, pot-lucks, non-violent communications and a ukulele group. Burns, who grew up Catholic, says the UUA has a sense of community that brings people together, instead of breaking them apart.

"To me it is important to be a part of a community that is open and seeks to connect rather than divide people by looking at what we all have in common instead of focusing on differences," says Burns. "I am also a parent and the fact that Unitarian Universalism Religious Education teaches children about the World's Religious is important to me. I want my daughter to grow up hearing about all the different beliefs that exist so she learns tolerance and acceptance from a young age. Unitarian Universalism breaks you open in the most beautiful way, so you embrace things you may have never experienced before."

One of the organization's seven principles is the inherent worth and dignity of all people. Burns says about one-third of the congregation comes from a Jewish background, another third from Christianity and the last third from "other perspectives" including Atheism and Buddhism.

"This is a community of people searching and questioning, who want to come together to live their beliefs and principles," Burns says. "People who are working toward personal growth while at the same time working to make the world a better place."

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