Special NAUA Service on Sunday Jan. 20 2024

This a special invitation to attend the regular 3rd Saturday worship service of the North American Unitarian Association Service this Saturday (Jan. 20th, 2024).  This service features a sermon by Rev. Dr. Todd Eklof, entitled “Finding Our Way: Where Our Liberal Religion Must Go From Here”.

Rev. Eklof is the Minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Spokane,  President and Founder of the North American Unitarian Association and is now one of the preeminent champions of Liberal Religion in North America and the World.

Rev. Eklof describes his sermon as:

Somehow, over the past few decades, Unitarians and Universalists have lost our way, often demonstrating the very opposite of our purposes and principles. Now, whatever we are about must include regaining our place as am influential liberal religious voice in the world. It is not to correct others, including the UUA, nor to exist in opposition to anyone or anything.  We are here to benefit and guide others by promoting and demonstrating who we are and what we are about. In this sermon, we’ll consider more precisely what this means.

The Service begins at 10:00 PST (1:00 PM EST)

Zoom access at https://tinyurl.com/NAUAService

ALL are Welcomed!


A Remembrance of Rev. Dr. Finley C. Campbell

Rev. Dr. Finley C. Campbell

A Remembrance of Rev. Dr. Finley C. Campbell

By Dick Burkhart, PhD

Many in the Unitarian community will have heard of and been inspired by the tireless fight for racial harmony led by the Rev. Finley Campbell. In this tribute (reprinted here from the January 2024 Liberal Beacon, Unitarian activist Dick Burkhart shares his memories of the late Dr. Finley Campbell.

I was at a plenary session of the 2017 General Assembly of the UUA in New Orleans when Finley Campbell got up to speak in protest against how former UUA President Rev. Peter Morales had been treated by the UUA Board and others in leadership after a so-called “hiring controversy”.

I too had great respect for Peter Morales from my years of justice advocacy with UUs for a Just Economic Community, and I was trying to figure out what the hell had happened and why. So when this principled black man of obvious courage spoke, defying attempts by the Moderator to shut him up, I took notice.

At the conclusion of his short speech, Finley invited attendees to join him that evening to ride with him on a New Orleans streetcar. Why? I wondered, but I was intrigued, so I took him up on that offer. Turned out that I was the only newcomer to his little group, showing that the resignation of Rev Morales wasn’t actually about the claims of racism in the hiring process, but that a powerful and ruthless faction had captured the UUA, a faction that few dared to question.

In fact, this was my first exposure to cancel culture. It turned out that Finley’s streetcar ride was just to demonstrate how much progress there had been on racial issues since the Civil Rights era of the 1960s. Namely, the streetcar was integrated – the era of Jim Crow segregation was long past, contrary to the astounding claims of this faction that little or no progress had been made. After that ride, we all went out to dinner together. That’s when Finley explained the divisions in the black leadership and I decided to join his team,

I read book after book, learning that Finley’s “multiracial unity” was deeply grounded in our UU principles, whereas the faction in power was strong, but stealthy, hiding its anti-UU ideology. Finley had not studied Critical Race Theory, but he had this faction all figured out, particularly the anti-white dogma at the heart of its supposed anti-racism.

Finley’s great strength was his eagerness to find common ground with others and to organize to defend our UU principles. He became a beacon for those had been cancelled or oppressed by what today are called woke ideologies, such as the neo-racism that was his focus.

Finley described himself as a Marxist/Christian UU, but he was fine with non-Marxists and non-Christians, showing what is today a rare strength of character. As such he became a mentor to me and many others.

We will carry forward his mission to all humanity in a time of increasing societal turmoil, propelled by escalating inequality nationally and by the surging forces of ecological and civilization collapse globally. May Finley Campbell not rest-in-peace but forever in the uplifting activism for the beloved community that he so cherished.

Losing my Religion

Losing My Religion
Judy Robbins, PsyD

Although we focus on the imperiled Principles as the dominant outward sign, the entire religion of Unitarian Universalism is being reconstructed to the point where I do not recognize it. I am losing my religion. In the midst of heartbreak, I’ve been prompted to ponder the connection between religion and spirituality. 

For me there is a big difference between religion and spirituality. Spirituality is inner-focused where religion is outer-focused. Religion is the way spirituality plays out in the world. When I became a Unitarian in my early 20s, I found a good match for my innate spirituality to express itself. Gathering in Unitarian churches felt safe and comforting, and a little challenging. It was a place that invited me to deepen both my intellectual and spiritual perspectives. Unlike other religions, UUism was liberal; it wasn’t salvation-based with a rulebook of commandments. I flourished in the freedom, in the wholehearted acceptance of differing opinions and viewpoints. I resonated with The Seven Principles as the public face of UUism. 

But UUism is not my spirituality. My spirituality is deeply personal and internal. It’s heartful and experiential, not noisy with thoughts. It is not goal oriented. Paradoxically, it is both unbounded yet grounded in the world. It is entirely accepting and nonjudgmental and an unfailing guide to compassion. It’s always there. It’s a constant Awareness that is intangible so it cannot be threatened by anything external, including religion. From a spiritual perspective I have no trouble seeing the interdependent web of existence. On a good day, I can grasp the concept of Oneness. Indeed, my spirituality is the deepest and dearest part of me. I would not be wrong to say it is Me. 

Until recently, my religion has supported my spirituality. UUism has reinforced my need to seek truth and meaning wherever I find it. Printed right there in The Principles was a guarantee that I had no need of an external authority; I could rely on my conscience to know what was right. I believe that all of us are inherently worthy; that we are united in valuing justice, equity, compassion, democracy, and world community. The implication at the heart of The Principles is clear: I can be trusted to be a good person; that we all can be trusted to be good people doing the best we can with what we’ve got. 

But the Universe is upside down now. It is unrecognizable. An invaluable trust has been broken. My own conscience, inseparable from my spirituality, is no longer seen as trustworthy. Instead, I am to submit to an external authority that presumably knows what’s best. My individuality is no longer acceptable. My religion currently wants me to embrace an impossible To Do List to save the world. At the same time, I am being judged as stubborn, clinging, rigid and unaccepting in my views. Unbelievably, even my ability to love is in question. I feel foolish to have trusted that the morality and freedoms expressed in The Principles were a given, something that could not be easily tossed aside by a committee. Did I misplace my faith and trust and leave myself open to betrayal?

The word faith in a UU context has always puzzled me. I could see that others had faith in the tenets of their religion, faith in God. But did I have faith? It turns out I did have faith. I had put my faith in a liberal religion that I thought would be there for me always. I was wrong and I am shaken to my core to watch my religion morph into an entity that I can no longer entrust with my faith. 

Today, I would not choose to become a UU. This new brand of UUism hinders my freedom to express my spirituality in the world. Even as I am losing my religion, no one can take away my spirituality. In fact, right now, everything religious feels very unstable and the only place of true refuge is in my spirituality. 

Yet that is not entirely true. My current congregation espouses the values that drew me to UUism so many years ago. We are quick to embrace, and we come around to acceptance when things don’t go our way. Like all churches we are not without strife, but this is a group of people who are faithful to each other. Often at the end of services, you will see folks pressing their hands together prayer-wise and bowing slightly as we exchange “Namaste.” The light in me greets the light in you. Now, in these unstable times, it feels important to stay centered in that inner light and in loving community wherever we find it, both in our congregations and in the wider world of our very small denomination. 

Judy Robbins, PsyD, is a lay leader at the Unitarian Society of Hartford, CT. Her doctorate is in Transpersonal Psychology, the area where psychology and spirituality overlap. She raised three Unitarian kids who remember YRUU and their UU Camp experiences fondly. Judy has had leadership roles in a number of Unitarian churches and at Rowe Conference Center in the Berkshires. She is married to Rick Tsukada, a lifelong UU. 

NAUA Launches ‘circles’

humans around globe

Introducing a Fresh Approach to Interact with Fellow NAUA Members

Commencing in February, we are excited to introduce a novel method for NAUA members to connect and foster camaraderie through Zoom. Initially, we will launch two Conversational CIRCLES scheduled for the first and third Tuesdays at 6 pm CST, as well as the first and third Saturdays at 1 pm CST, spanning 6 months. Each CIRCLE will comprise 12 members. We intend to commence on a modest scale and expand based on demand. If you wish to take part, kindly express your interest by emailing circles@naua.org, sharing a brief note about your enthusiasm and your preference for Tuesday or Saturday, and we will promptly respond.