The first EUT (European Unitarians Together) is organized jointly by
Unitarier – Religionsgemeinschaft freien Glaubens e.V. (URfG)
European Unitarian Universalists (EUU).
Read more about both organizations below!
Founded in 1982, European Unitarian Universalists (EUU) is a religious community and network connecting Unitarian Universalists (UUs) and UU fellowships in Europe. Approximately half of the more than 200 members belong to local lay-led fellowships that share resources and programs (including Religious Education). The remaining members, known as "at large" members, are spread over most of the countries of Europe but are not affiliated with a particular fellowship. EUU publishes a periodic newsletter, the Unifier, and sponsors twice-yearly retreats in various locations. Recent retreats in Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Germany have each attracted up to 180 Universalists and Unitarians from across Europe.
The members of EUU agree to affirm and promote the following values and principles:
- The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
- Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
- Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
- A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
- The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large; The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
- Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
Our shared tradition draws from many sources:
- Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life;
- Words and deeds of prophetic women and men which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love;
- Wisdom from the world's religions which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life;
- Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God's love by loving our neighbors as ourselves;
- Humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science, and warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit;
- Spiritual teachings of earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.
The “Unitarier – Religionsgemeinschaft freien Glaubens” traces its roots back to the Free Protestant Movement in the Rhine-Hesse region in the 19th century. At the time, the Free Protestants rebelled against local rulers’ sovereignty in matters of the church, and against dogmas and customs which contradicted reason and liberty. In 1876, adherents of the movement left the Church of the State of Hesse and formed their own congregations.
Very early on, the Free Protestants adhered to an idea of God which broke with the church’s concept of a personal God existing outside of the world. Instead, they described God as the “universal life”. In 1910, Rev. Walbaum was introduced to the ideas and leaders of the Anglo-Saxon Unitarians. He drew parallels between their rejection of the trinity and the Free Protestant idea of God as the “universal one” which acts through “man’s striving to live a moral life.” He understood his own Free Protestant convictions as a “distillation” of Anglo-Saxon Unitarian teachings, defining them as “German Unitarian.”
This position of being “German Unitarian” – and thus apart from other Unitarians – was preserved until quite recently. At times, this focus led the movement astray, resulting in German Unitarians supporting Aryan Germanic beliefs which were part of the National Socialist ideology. Attempts to preserve or revive these ideas continued until after the war. Resistance to these attempts came in particular from circles seeking closer contact with the international Unitarian movement. Ultimately, the latter were able to prevail. The decision to drop the “Deutsche” (German) from “Deutsche Unitarier,” thereby no longer insisting on being apart from international Unitarians, was finally made at the 2015 Annual Meeting in Worms. The upcoming EUT (European Unitarians Together) symbolically seals this agreement.
Nevertheless, we believe that we – as a religious community – can still offer something uniquely our own within this larger community. For us, this is the key thought behind the universal one: that we, as individuals, are part of an inconceivable oneness with the world around us, with our fellow humans, with all living things, with Nature, the Earth, the cosmos and everything as an all-encompassing whole. To us, this is the “transcending mystery and wonder affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life.” (wording of the Unitarian Universalist Association) To us, this is the universal one, the “unitas” connecting us as Unitarians. Today, it has become very difficult to still experience this “unitas” in the face of our growing isolation, which is why we want to form a community which encourages and supports us in this.
Today, we make up only a small religious association in Germany, with few congregations and fairly disparate members. This poses great difficulties and means that we are still looking for solutions. However, it has not affected our belief in the “unitas”.