Connecting Across Cultures Personally

As Unitarians and Unitarian Universalists in many countries, we know that we have much in common, and connecting with each other person to person helps us discover and strengthen those commonalities. And, we know and appreciate more and more that we are different, from country to country and culture to culture, and connecting with each other person to person through ICUU meetings and events helps lift up the differences which define us and strengthen us.

HOW ARE WE THE SAME?    We are Unitarians and Unitarian Universalists - mostly.  We are religious liberals.  We are dedicated to religious freedom in ways that are not common in most of the places we live --- freedom of individuals to believe as they believe and to choose their own religious community according to their beliefs.   We value the use of democratic principles in our organizations.

HOW ARE WE DIFFERENT?  We live in different cultural, social and economic contexts, in so-called developed and so-called developoing countries, in democracies and autocracies, in rich and poor countries and therefore we have different U-U histories. 

We have different theological and religious understandings – our theologies range from naturalism  to theism, from atheism to god-centered. Our ecclesiologies range from lay-led to bishops in charge. Our religious practices range from humanistic to theistic, from scientific orientations to faith-healing.

WE COME TOGETHER TO KNOW AND HELP EACH OTHER

Every other year, at the ICUU Council Meeting and Conference, participants from all member groups around the world gather for a week to live together in intentional international community. Far from mere tourism, these gatherings provide opportunities for us to live out the values and mission of the ICUU, to conduct the organization business of the ICUU, and to practice understanding and knowing each other in both our similarities and our differences.  In these ways we learn to be open to Unitarian –Universalism in much broader ways than just our own contexts, and in this learning together we see more clearly how we can help each other.

The ICUU provides many other opportunities for this kind of meeting and coming together as well, including theological and other topical symposia, and training and education in U-Uism, organizational development, leadership and ministry development, U-U history, worship arts, and pastoral care.  While the ICUU remains an organization of member groups – a group of groups -  these programs of the ICUU provide ongoing opportunities for individuals from all member and emerging groups to connect with others on a personal level, and to experience first hand both the similarities and the differences which unite us.