Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What do UUs believe?
Unitarian Universalists are not bound by a common religious belief, so answering this can be a challenge. Instead, UUs believe that it is not who or what you believe in that is important, but rather, how you live your life. We covenant to uphold a set of shared principles. Our principles demonstrate that UUs believe in respect, equality, justice, peace, the democratic process, and living in harmony and sustainability with the earth. To read more about our religious perspective visit our Principles and Sources page. To get a sense of our Sunday services, consider checking the sermons from a UU congregation or fellowship close to you.
Can I have a UU minister officiate at my wedding?
As well as professional UU ministers in Canada, the CUC supports a Lay Chaplaincy program that empowers lay leaders from congregations to perform rites of passage ceremonies, such as weddings, funeral or memorial services, and child dedications. These lay chaplains are registered in the province in which they work and are trained to work with you to craft a meaningful and personalized ceremony. To read more about the services lay chaplains provide visit our Ceremonies and Memorials page.
What does the flaming chalice mean?
The flaming chalice is the religious symbol for Unitarian Universalism. In most UU congregations, we practice the shared tradition of lighting the flame of the chalice at the beginning of each worship service, uniting us in worship, and symbolizing the spirit of our work.
The image of a flame within a chalice was originally designed in 1941 by Hans Deutsch who was working with the Unitarian Service Committee (USC), attempting to assist Eastern Europeans escape Nazi persecution. The symbol was designed to give dignity and importance to the unknown USC, while also symbolizing the spirit of service. To read more about the history of the flaming chalice, visit the Unitarian Universalist Association Website.
Do Unitarian Congregations Welcome LGBTQ People?
Yes! Unitarian Universalist congregations extend a warm welcome to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) individuals, families, and communities. As a national faith community, we advocated for same-sex marriage in the 1970s. We believe that love, friendship, support and commitment are the touchstones of every marriage. Our religion was one of the first in the world to ordain women and openly gay and lesbian ministers. For more information you can read about our Welcoming Congregations program.
I speak a different language. Will I Be Welcome?
Yes! The first UU principle affirms the worth and dignity of each human being. We value who you are, where you come from, where you are. We are eager to have diversity among us and are committed to helping our faith community grow to reflect the diversity of Canadian society. We welcome people from all racial, religious, linguistic and ethnic backgrounds. We want to learn what you have to teach us. We want to include you in our faith community, where shared values are more important than shared beliefs. Be welcome!
What about my children and family?
Each congregation has its own programming for children. We value multigenerational connections within our communities, and children are a rich part of this. Check with the congregation’s website or newsletter, or speak with the minister/service leader/greeter about children’s programming.
What are Sunday services like?
We come together to build connections, to share in the search for meaning, to be spiritually nurtured and uplifted. Unitarian Universalist worship services engage our minds, our hearts, and our spirits. Whether they are relaxed and informal or more complex or elaborate, they call us to remember our best selves and to live with wisdom and compassion. Every congregation has its own traditions, but some elements are common to all.
Services open with words of welcome and the lighting of a chalice, the symbol of Unitarian Universalism. A story or other presentation suitable for all ages follows. Childcare and religious exploration programs or young people are often available during the service.
You can expect to hear plenty of music, sung by the congregation and possibly performed by a musician or a choir as well. A speaker will offer a reflection or sermon. Inspiring readings drawn from a variety of sources, historical and modern, expand and develop the theme.
Time for spiritual reflection, in spoken words and shared silence, is also part of our services. We take time to lift up the joys and concerns of the congregation.
From time to time, services will include holiday celebrations, multigenerational pageants, guest speakers or musicians, or other special features or events. Every week is different—come and discover us!
What social justice actions are UUs involved in?
As Canadian Unitarian Universalists, we envision a world in which our interdependence calls us to love and justice. Our tradition has always emphasized action in the world, and so we are active in many areas, on local, national, and international stages, in our own communities and in interfaith and secular coalitions. We work for truth, healing, and reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. Nearly all of our congregations have sponsored refugees. We are committed to the full and radical inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people in our communities and in every aspect of society, and many of our congregations are formally certified as Welcoming Congregations. We work for climate and environmental justice, and many congregations are accredited Green Sanctuaries. The collections we take in our services often support not only the congregation but local nonprofit and charitable organizations as well.
Our Principles affirm peace, liberty, and justice for all, and our Sources challenge us to confront evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love. Join us as we work together to put our faith into action!
How do youth and young adults get involved?
Young people are a vital part of our communities, putting our faith into action every day. A youth or young adult group in your congregation will offer not just friendship but also the chance to explore your values and live them out in spiritual community. You might find yourself joining in passionate discussions, hanging out with friends for lunch or games, planning and leading a Sunday service, or embarking on a justice project. Find out more about our religious exploration programs, which offer contemporary curricula to help you navigate our complex world, our youth ministry for people 14–20 , and our young adult ministry for people ages 18–35.
The CUC Board of Trustees includes a youth observer, elected each year to bring forward the perspectives and concerns of people ages 14–20.
How do I become a Unitarian?
Each UU congregation has its own path to membership. This Sunday may be your first or your five hundredth visit to one of our congregations. Either way, you are welcome! By sharing our UU values, you may already consider yourself a Unitarian. To read more about this idea, check out How Do I Become a Unitarian? by Rev. Dr. Phillip Hewett.
Is there a UU congregation in my town?
There are over 40 member congregations and emerging groups in Canada, spread across the country. To find the nearest congregation to you, visit Find a Congregation.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.