ICUU Sunday Service, 2004
Dear friends of the ICUU,
It is good that Unitarians and Unitarian Universalists around the world celebrate ICUU Sunday—this year on 28 March.
A great deal of work has been done since the ICUU's inception in 1995 to build the international community of UUs. We have become a worldwide family, who bring a richness of diversity into the experience and expression of our liberal religious faith. In that diversity we find too that, because of our faith, we have so much in common.
Celebration is about honouring, rejoicing and affirming; it's a time of festivity, a time for the expression of some special ritual which enriches the form and meaning of that which is being honoured and affirmed. So let us celebrate what has been achieved in the past as well as the potential and possibilities that exist for us in the future.
The ICUU is still a very young organisation and there is much work to be done in order to grow our worldwide movement. Let this time of celebration therefore be a time of renewal of our vision and of our commitment to our faith, in the knowledge that our restless and searching world cries out for a new Way of Being spiritually.
Our Unitarian Universalist way of being is, I believe, the religion of tomorrow and now is the time to nurture and foster this young ICUU plant that has the promise of a great harvest for many.
In your celebration, pray for and bless the work currently in hand in the various ICUU task groups, consisting of experienced, dedicated, and committed UUs. We are reaching out to new areas as yet untouched by our faith and where the seed of liberal religion awaits our planting.
While new and fertile ground is being prepared in South America, Asia and Africa there are many UU communities that manage to thrive under extremely difficult conditions, where the flame of our liberal religion burns strongly but the winds of intolerance take their toll. So, celebrate well! We have a huge gift to give and we have much for which to be grateful. May our worldwide celebration be a time for a renewal of the spirit of co-operation, collaboration and increased communication with and support for each other.
Long may the flame burn!
With every good wish and much love
May this flame burn and remind us that each of us can offer goodness and love, and that each of us can be a blessing to the world.
Petr Samojsky, Religious Society of Czech Unitarians
Adapted from Theodore Parker, The Transient and Permanent in Christianity (1841)
In a figurative sense Ð to build bridges means for me, to support mutual understanding among people. It also means to accept the differences between human beings and to realise these differences as enrichment of our lives Ð like in the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists.
'Bridge' can be a symbol for coming together. In some sense everybody could be a bridge, if he or she has an open mind to the mind of others.
We all are part of one human community. If we want to enjoy a world worth living, we best attain this goal by practising peace and understanding among each other.
From the basic ideas which German Unitarians agreed on in a democratic process, I quote:
'Human life develops best in the peaceful cohabitation of responsible people. We want to contribute actively to this aim in our society, in our country and in humankind. We want to resolve conflicts peacefully by striving for understanding. .... We live in nature and are part of it. We therefore feel obliged to treat it with respect, even if personal sacrifices are required.'
It is necessary not only to have visions for the future, but also to find a simple way to our neighbour, sometimes over (or through) a river of ignorance and misunderstanding on every new day.
Misunderstandings grow because someone does not understand what the other person is saying. Both do not speak the 'same language'—neither with words (even if their mother tongue is the same...) nor with body language. But—can language barriers be overcome and emotional bridges be built? Yes, they can. To communicate with each other there are not only words, but gestures, the sound of the voice and facial expression and others. An important fact is: that only 20% of all information between persons is passed on with words; 80% is passed on in a non-verbal way.
Smiles, hugs, laughter, shaking hands and words are the material to build emotional bridges. We urgently need them! Antje Paul, Germany
Letter from South America
Indeed I am very happy to be a Unitarian, for Unitarianism sure provides a certain sense of direction and purpose in life, and it provides you sound principles so you can be honest to yourself and to other people! Even when I have doubts, I can honestly tell people that I have them, instead of pretending to believe just for the sake of going along with the flock.
Furthermore, even in my sad moments, if I know honestly that I have acted according to my sound Unitarian principles and in the spirit of openness and sincerity.... the rest doesn't matter. I want to be a Unitarian for as long as I live, and just in case there is such a thing as reincarnation, then I want to be a Unitarian as many times as I have to come back to Earth, and also after that!
For me, either the universe doesn't make sense, or this sense can be found only in Unitarianism! Even though I never met you personally, and never visited your country, I invite you to go outside right now and look at the sun for just a fraction of a second, so it won't blind your eyes. The sun you see there is the same one I see here. Sure you will be able to make all the associations I am attributing to the word 'sun' right now! We are two different chalices, but the flame burning from them is exactly the same.'
from Paulo Ereno, Brazil, to Polly Guild, USA
The Task of the Religious Community
Affirmation—based on the Principles of the ICUU
Love, Unity and Peace
Samina Tufail Gill, Pakistan
—Jean M Rickard Rowe, USA