Where do you go for your Universalism fix?

I just talked with someone around here who wants to explore current Universalism within the Unitarian Universalist Association. I told this person that I thought of myself as a Universalist, but that I have to get outside the Palo Alto church (which has a decidedly Unitarian orientation) to get my Universalism fix. And how exactly do I get my “Universalism fix”? this person wanted to know. Well, by hearing good kick-butt Universalist preaching, and by talking to some real Universalists. And who are the preachers who still deliver kick-butt Universalist sermons? –and who are the “real Universalists”? this person wanted to know. Well, I had to admit that many of the “real Universalists” who have kept me going me are either dead (like Bob Needham), or on the East Coast (like Richard Trudeau). As for kick-butt Universalist preachers, there’s Gordon McKeeman, but he’s not preaching regularly any more, and sometimes I hear some real Universalist preaching at Ferry Beach, the Universalist conference center in Saco, Maine.

These were not very satisfactory answers, I’m afraid. Therefore, I’m going to plug into my online Universalist hivemind. If you’re a Universalist, how and where and from whom do you get your regular Universalism fix? Be specific and name names: Universalist preachers, congregations, persons, places.

16 thoughts on “Where do you go for your Universalism fix?

  1. Dan

    Scott @ 1 — Yes, but I trust in the Web-based Universalist hivemind to come up with answers.

  2. Amy

    I don’t get to hear anyone else preach very much, so when I want to hear a Universalist sermon, I write it myself. Not quite as satisfying as getting someone else’s vision and fire, but what can you do when you work on Sunday morning? For this as for everything, I depend on worship at the UUMA retreats, District Assembly, and General Assembly.

    For reading, sadly not hearing, the Universalist Heritage Foundation has its newsletter, sometimes with sermons.


    And this month, there’s the UU Salon, though I agree with Scott that “the other U” is not a great term for such an important part of my religion. (I thought it was a cute joke, but after Rev. Earthbound Spirit’s solemn response, I sadly concluded that it wasn’t a joke and therefore not cute.)


  3. Patrick McLaughlin

    Best Universalist sermon I’ve heard — perhaps ever — was just a few weeks back; Mark Morrison-Reed preaching at First Church in San Diego. The title was “Dragged Kicking and Screaming into Heaven,” and was a testimony about (among other things) his own conversion as a young Unitarian minister, serving a Universalist church shortly after the consolidation.

    I meant to ask him if he’d share the text. It was… well… superb.

    Of course, he’s off in Canada. No help for you there in Palo Alto.

  4. Jean

    I go to the barn. Many faiths are represented there: Equine, Feline, Canine, Avian. There are also quiet worship services with the Graminoids, the Legumes, and the nearby Rivulets.

    That’s “universal” enough for me.

  5. Steven Rowe

    The annual Universalist Convocations usually has some pretty good Universalist messages. Meets every Spring, usually May. Richard Trudeau usually is there, this year Mark Morrison-Reed spoke – this was in Rochester NY. 2011 will be held in Newberry SC, and in 2012 at Murray Grove.
    the Universalist Herald is a quarterly publication (note it covers all types of Universalism).
    Disclaimer: I am affiliated with both.

  6. Jeremiah

    Auburn First Universalist, Auburn, Maine: Rev. Dr. Jodi Cohen Hayashida

    Universalism is a dwindling part of the Association’s view and outlook. Such a loss!

  7. Jeff

    This may or may not be a helpful reply, but it does address the question. I don’t get my Universalist fix in the UUA, other than occasional visits back to the Universalist church I was raised in (many hundreds of miles away). The reason is simply that there is very little Universalism left in the denomination, and the various geographically-proximate UU congregations I’ve had access to have been Humanist Unitarian dominated, with the common suspicion toward or total ignorance of the Universalist legacy. I guess you could also add that I read classical Universalist documents, but I don’t think they’re quite what you’re looking for.

    Instead, my regular fix comes from Jodo Shinshu, a large (both in Japan and North America) Buddhist denomination that has a similar Universalist outlook that is fundamental to its religious approach. They offer me a caring spiritual congregation where everyone gathers weekly to express their gratitude for universal salvation and for all that we receive in life, as well as a roster of practices, teachings, and stories that are meaningful and helpful in deepening my religious path. Perhaps most importantly, they have provided me with mentors in (Buddhist) Universalism who have shown me how to live as a modern-day (Buddhist) Universalist, so that Universalism isn’t simply a historical moment of the past but a living reality and answer for contemporary spiritual and social ills.

    The parallels between Christian Universalism and Jodo Shinshu Buddhism are striking, including a common orientation toward universal salvation, praxis based on gratitude and awareness of received benefits rather than striving for individual entrance into heaven or self-perfection, opposition to any form of superstition or economic exploitation in religion, strong lay focus, early victories for women and despised classes, social justice concerns, emphasis on humility, admiration for faith balanced with respect for reason and learning, and so on. They’re close enough, at any rate, that this Universalist can feel very comfortable as a Universalist practicing within a Buddhist context of this type, since UU churches mostly don’t offer a Universalist context for worship, practice, and spiritual exploration. Jodo Shinshu, though, wouldn’t necessarily work for those who need their Universalism in a more formally Christian or theistic framework, however.

  8. Dan

    Thank you for the thoughtful responses! Patrick, special thanks for mentioning the sermon by Mark Morrison-Reed — let’s hope he decides to publish it, or better yet, put an audio file on the Web.

    A little more on Ferry Beach from my perspective — I do go to Ferry Beach nearly every year, because it’s one of the few Universalist institutions left, and it matters to me that Quillen Shinn, O. Howard Perkins, Dorothy Spoerl, Bob Needham, and tons of other Universalists have stayed there over the years. I also go because the outdoor chapel has an altar table on which is inscribed “God Is Love” — and even in those years when I’m not a theist, I still think that’s the best definition for divinity that I’ve encountered. It continues to be important to have Universalist institutions in this world.

    I hope some more people will weigh in with their ideas of how to get a Universalist fix.

  9. nancydreuu

    I talk with my colleagues. For one reason or another, A LOT of Religious Education professionals are Universalists. And ohhhh, can we testify.

  10. DairyStateDad

    I get mine at DairyStateMom’s Presbyterian church. I’m not sure any of the pastors would openly lay claim to Universalist theology in the strictest sense, but it shines through in their focus on Jesus’s message as being that of the lavish generosity of God, and on the responsibility that brings to care for and share with the least of all.

  11. Kathy Parmentier

    If Palo Alto is lacking, but needs, more Universalism, I think you’re going to have to step up to the plate. We already have quite a lot of theological pluralism, and we should be doing more to support it. I think that there might well be support for open, consistent expression of Universalist theology. I know that I’m curious. Amy Morgenstern gave a VERY moving sermon on Universalism, so she isn’t likely to fight it. Show us what a more Universalist church would look like. I was born and raised Unitarian, but much of that heritage seems unsatisfactory to me. More Universalism may be just what I’m looking for. BRING IT ON!

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