Unitarian Universalism: Right off the beaten path

MT. MOURNE – It’s a tradition with deep roots and new-age ideals.

And though the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Lake Norman can trace part of its history back to reformed Calvinists of the 1700s, not many know about the faith or its practices.

The three-year old congregation has 45 members and is growing steadily.

Dan Aldridge, congregation member and history professor at Davidson College, explained that in the age of science and enlightenment, some prominent men like Thomas Jefferson and Ralph Waldo Emerson moved away from a belief in the Trinity. They opted instead to believe only in God’s divinity, while choosing to see Jesus as an exemplary, yet human, moral teacher.

Universalists, who formed around the same time as Unitarians, took issue with predestination, the idea that God already knew which people were going to Hell.

“What sort of God would be so cruel as to say a little baby before it’s born will be subjected to torture and torment?” Aldridge said, explaining historic Universalist views to newcomers at a meeting Feb. 3. “They believed no one was so far outside the pale as to be damned forever.”

In 1961, the two faiths merged, and Unitarian Universalism had 164,000 U.S. members in 2009, according to the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations.

“We welcome people who come from a lot of different faith traditions, and we are also open to people who may not find traditional forms of religious expression comfortable,” the Rev. Amy Brooks explained.

Unitarian Universalists have no creedal test for membership, but they come together to support others on their individual spiritual journeys, Brooks said.

While some UUs believe in God, others do not. Opinions also differ on the notion of an afterlife. All UUs are encouraged to seek wisdom in religious texts as well as transcendental, humanist and even poetic writings.

In Brooks’ Feb. 3 sermon, she noted that while UUs embrace many diverse communities, much of the group’s national makeup consists of white, upper middle class, well-educated nature lovers who drive to farmer’s markets listening to NPR.

“We like to think critically, which is why we don’t put faith in divine teachings of different scriptures,” Brooks said. “We believe there’s truth in scripture, but for the most part, we believe that they have been written by human beings and are therefore fallible.” q

Ministry hosts gospel concert

LOWESVILLE – The Mylon Hayes Family will perform Feb. 9 at Living Word Ministries of Lake Norman, 1062 N.C. 16 S., Lowesville.

Mylon is the son of the nationally known Hayes Family, of Boone. He and his wife and their three children make up the singing group.

The event costs $10, which includes a meal of two hotdogs, baked beans, chips, a drink and desserts. Children 12 and younger get in free.

The meal begins at 4:45 p.m. The concert follows at 6. Call Carroll, at 704-618-9762, for more details.

Tickets on sale for New Covenant sports dinner

MOUNT HOLLY – The third annual New Covenant Sportsman Banquet will be held March 9 at the church, 14514 Lucia-Riverbend Hwy., Mount Holly.

Tickets cost $10, and include a spaghetti supper, door prizes and speech by Tom Ryan of Ironman Outdoors Pro Staff. There will also be a silent auction and vendors.

Doors open at 5 p.m. and dinner will be served at 6. Tickets will be available in advance or at the door. To buy banquet tickets or raffle tickets for a Franchi 12 gauge semi automatic gun, contact the church office at 704-827-4468 or John Carpenter at 704-914-5838.

Trinity UMC plans Ash Wednesday service

CHARLOTTE – Trinity United Methodist Church will host an Ash Wednesday Service on Feb. 13. There will also be a pancake dinner served from 5-6:30 p.m. before the service, which begins at 7 p.m. in the sanctuary.

The sanctuary will be open for quiet time from 5-6:30 p.m.

The church will also hold its 54th annual barbecue event on March 7, beginning at 11 a.m. Plates or three sandwiches will be available for $9 or a pound for $8.

Trinity UMC is located at 6230 Beatties Ford Road, Charlotte.

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