Small Group: Universalism

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First UU Church of Nashville Covenant Group Session Plan #142
Meghann Robern, Intern Minister

February Worship Theme: Prayer/ Meditation/Equanimity

Opening Words: Clarence Skinner, The Social Implications of Universalism p12-13

But the fight for freedom is never won. Inherited liberty is not liberty but tradition. Each generation must win for itself the right to emancipate itself from its own tyrannies, which are ever unprecedented and peculiar. Therefore those have been reared in freedom, bear a tremendous responsibility to the world to win an ever larger and more important liberty.

Chalice Lighting and Covenant

Check-In and Sharing


Clarence Skinner, The Social Implications of Universalism, p20-21:

A democratic people demand a democratic God, a robust deity who likes his universe, who hungers for fellowship, who is in and of and for the whole of life, whose sympathies are as broad as the “rounded catalog, divine, complete,”

“The devilish and the dark, the dying and diseased,
The countless (nineteen-twentieths) low and evil, crude and savage,
The crazed, prisoners in jail, the horrible, rank, malignant,
(What is the part the wicked and the loathsome bear within earth’s orbic scheme?)
Newts, crawling things in slime and mud, poisons,
The barren soil, the evil men, the slag and hideous rot.”

The Universalist idea of God is that of a universal, impartial, immanent spirit whose nature in love. It is the largest thought the world has ever known; it is the most revolutionary doctrine ever proclaimed; it is the most expansive hope ever dreamed.

Modern Unitarian Universalism has moved beyond the two Christian doctrines from which it gets its name. But there are still lessons to be learned, and stories to be told, about our current identity and the future of our faith from where we came.

What speaks to you in the passage from Skinner’s book? Even by his own declaration, he says a free religion should be constantly evolving, so he was aware that his definitions and models of theology would fall short in the future if we were truly Universalist. What in his Universalism do you think doesn’t apply to us anymore, and why? What can be adapted with some word changes, but keeping the idea intact?

Who in your life challenges the idea of Universalism? Who might you balk at welcoming into the congregation, and why? Should there be limits on who receives radical hospitality and expressions of love at all, or just adjustments to what is offered? How can we reconcile Universalism with what we know now about toxic people and relationships?

Closing Check-Out and Chalice Extinguishing

Closing Words: Clarence Skinner, The Social Implications of Universalism, p23

A universal faith demands a universal application. This vast idea cannot be confined in one human mind, or in one favored class, but escapes beyond the narrow limitations of individualism into every conceivable relation of life. It cannot be calmly accepted by one and denied to the many.

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