Acronyms – what do all the acronyms stand for?
- GLBT = gay, lesbian, bisexual, and/or transgender.
- DRE = Director of Religious Education. See RE below.
- NYSCU = New York State Convention of Universalists. This organization preceded the UUA.
- RE or R.E. = religious education. This phrase primarily applies to our children and youth programs. The concept is similar to Sunday School.
- RAIHN = Rochester Area Interfaith Hospitality Network. See our Social Justice page for details.
- SLD = St. Lawrence District. Created in 1963, this subsection of the UUA now covers more than 30 congregations in New York State and one in Pennsylvania.
- UU = Unitarian Universalism. This is the name of our religion. Also can mean Unitarian Universalist.
- UUA = Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations. Supports USA UU congregations.
- UUist and UUism = Unitarian Universalist and Unitarian Universalism, respectively.
- YRUU = Young Religious Unitarian Universalists. This is our high school class. You can find more information at the national YRUU website.
Book an event – how do I book an event at First Universalist?
Contact our Office Administrator, Kris McCarty-White, to discuss booking your event or wedding at our church. She can be reached by phone at (585) 546-2826 (voice mail is available) or by email. For more details please visit our Rental page.
Chalice/Flaming Chalice – What is it?
The flaming chalice (see sidebar at right) is the symbol we associate with our religion.
Created in 1941 by Hans Deutsch for use by the Unitarian Service Committee (USC, now the UUSC) to help people flee the Nazis by stamping it on documents used to cross country borders, the flaming chalice was first used as a symbol of the UUA in 1976. The ritual of lighting a chalice at the start of services became widespread after 1980.
Chalice Lighter – what is a Chalice Lighter?
Yes, we light a chalice candle at the start of each service we hold, but a Chalice Lighter is something different.
A Chalice Lighter is an individual (or family) who pledges to make a contribution, twice a year, to another congregation who has been dreaming big and planning reasonably for a specific growth or healthy congregation endeavor, but lacks the funds to make the dream happen.
Chalice Lighters have helped bring ministerial leadership to many congregations in our district. They have helped congregations move into buildings of their own. They have helped new congregations get up and running, and they have helped existing congregations realize their dreams.
Con – what is a Con?
Con is short for convention. UUs hold conventions for youth as well as for adults, complete with worship services and workshops. A YRUU Con is organized and implemented by the YRUU students themselves, with adult advisors and chaperones. Youth attending a con must sign a code of conduct contract.
Creed – is there a UU creed?
UUs have no creed. We do not require our members to subscribe to specific beliefs in order to be with us. We do affirm and support seven principles and we draw upon six sources for our spiritual understandings. These principles and source were delineated after much discussion and a vote. UUs consider all topics, including this, to always be open for discussion and change.
The principles are:
- 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 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.
Some might think this is a creed, but it is not. No one is required to sign or swear under oath a profession of belief in order to become a member.
The Living Tradition, which we share, draws from six 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.
Dress code – what are we to wear to Sunday service?
There is no dress code. Wear what’s most comfortable to you.
Famous UUs – are there any famous UUs?
There is a wealth of information at Famous UUs, more people than can be listed here.
Some people who are/were Unitarians, Universalists or UU are:
- John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Louisa May Alcott, Horatio Alger, Susan B. Anthony
- P. T. Barnum, Bela Bartok, Clara Barton, Alexander Graham Bell, Luther Burbank
- Nathaniel Currier (of Currier & Ives), Dorothea Dix, Ralph Waldo Emerson
- Millard Fillmore, Ben Franklin, Robert Fulghum (Everything I Need to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten)
- Horace Greeley, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Thomas Jefferson,
- Henry Longfellow, Horace Mann, W. Somerset Maugham, Herman Melville, Samual F. B. Morse
- Francis Parkman, Beatrix Potter, Joseph Priestly, Christopher Reeve,
- Charles Steinmetz, Adlai Stevenson, Lucy Stone, Gilbert Stuart,
- William H. Taft (yet another US President), Henry David Thoreau,
- Daniel Webster, Frank Lloyd Wright, Whitney Young (National Urban League)
Funerals – what are UU funerals like?
We don’t have funerals, per se. When someone dies, we hold a memorial service that reflects that person’s life and personality. The service lasts about an hour and is sometimes followed by a reception.
Jokes – got any good UU jokes?
A source of a lot of good UU jokes is The Church Where People Laugh: A treasury of jokes, quotations, observations and true stories about Unitarians, Universalists and UUs compiled and edited by Gwen Foss and printed in 1992, 1995, 1998, 2001 and 2004. The 1995 edition of this book was Flying Mice Press, Royal Oak, MI. The 2004 edition appears to be self-published. A variation of the joke below is in this book.
Once upon a time, a small town experienced a series of fires. First, the Catholic church burned down. The priest was seen running from the fiery edifice carrying a large crucifix and the consecrated chalice. Soon after that, the town’s Jewish temple burned down. The Rabbi dashed out just in time with the scroll of the Torah in his arms. Then the UU church burned down. The minister saved the office computer.
NYSCU – What is New York State Convention of Universlaists?
We got our start as a Universalist Society. This is an important part of who we are as a congregation. We are members of the New York State Convention of Universalists (NYSCU), which predates the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations (UUA). Per the NYSCU website, “Prior to the creation of the Unitarian Universalist Association, (the NYSCU) served as the principal denominational body for Universalist churches in New York State.”
Today the Convention administers two endowments. One provides gratuities for retired New York State Universalist ministers and their families; the other is used to promote the growth of the Unitarian Universalist movement generally, and to preserve, nurture and enhance the Universalist tradition within the movement.”
Yes, we are members of the NYSCU. We elect delegates to attend the annual NYSCU convention.
SLD – What is the Saint Lawrence District?
The mission of the St. Lawrence District (SLD) is to serve, connect and grow new and existing congregations in the St. Lawrence District of the Unitarian Universalist Association. SLD is one of 20 districts in the UUA. The St. Lawrence District currently covers the congregations in New York State as well as the congregation in Athens, PA.
SLD staff are committed to increasing the number of vital, healthy, growing congregations actively connected in community and in service to one another and the wider world through our District and the Unitarian Universalist movement.
Headquartered in Buffalo, NY, SLD staff provide resources such as workshops, training seminars, brochures and individualized congregation support when needed. SLD serves as a mechanism to improve communications between the local congregation and the national organization (UUA). They propose policy and open discussion on topics important to UUs.
UUA – what is the UUA?
The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) is a religious organization that combines two traditions: the Universalists, who organized in 1793, and the Unitarians, who organized in 1825. They consolidated into the UUA in 1961. More information can be found at here.
UUA – what do we get from being in it?
The Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations (UUA) is a voluntary organization; congregations choose to be members.
So why do we choose to belong? Part of the answer is certainly altruistic: many of us feel called to contribute our name, our time, and our money to the larger movement. But much of the answer lies in the many concrete benefits we receive as a member congregation. Here are just a few:
* Professional staff: The UUA trains and certifies ministers and religious educators. It provides a wealth of professional development opportunities, a retirement program, and group insurance plans. It administers the process by which congregations find new ministers.
* Publications: The UU World magazine is sent, free of charge, to every member of every UU congregation. The UUA Publications Office prints the pamphlets we distribute to newcomers. The Office of Lifespan Faith Development produces religious education curricula. Beacon Press, the denominational publishing house, produces some of America’s most important new books on social issues.
* Public witness and visibility: The UUA Office of Social Justice advocates for peace, justice, and compassion on the national stage, reminding the public and the media that faith-based positions need not be narrow and intolerant. The “Uncommon Denomination” program provides extensive resources for marketing and outreach.
* Support and guidance: The UUA advises congregations on best practices in fundraising, social action, growth, administration, leadership development, diversity and anti-racism, conflict resolution, and a host of other topics. It provides grants and loans to congregations in need. It develops programs for youth and young adults.
* Coordination: The UUA currently has 3 Associate organizations (the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, the UU United Nations Office, and the UU Womens’ Federation) 60 Affiliate organizations, 6 professional organizations, and 4 international affiliates. It facilitates cooperation among these many organizations, and serves as a certral clearing house for information.
To learn more, visit the UUA’s web site.
UUSC – what is the UUSC?
The UUSC (Unitarian Universalist Service Committee) hase been protecting human rights around the world for more than 65 years. Their mission is to advance human rights and social justice around the world, partnering with those who confront unjust power structures and mobilizing to challenge oppressive policies. Their Vision Statement is: The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) envisions a world free from oppression and injustice, where all can realize their full human rights.
The UUSC is separate from the UUA. Individuals as well as congregations can donate to the UUSC.
Weddings – how do I book a wedding at this church?
Contact our Office Administrator, Kris McCarty-White, to discuss booking your wedding at our church. She can be reached by phone at (585) 546-2826 (voice mail is available) or by email. For more information on renting our church building, please visit our Rental page.