“These churches accept the religion of Jesus, holding, in accordance with his teaching, that practical religion is summed up in love to God and love to man. The conference recognizes the fact that its constituency is Congregational in tradition and polity. Therefore it declares that nothing in this constitution is to be construed as an authoritative test; and we cordially invite to our working fellowship any who, while differing from us in belief, are in general sympathy with our spirit and our practical aims.” Free Religious Association, National Conference, 1894
In 1900 the International Council of Unitarian and Other Liberal Religous Thinkers and Workers was established in Boston with biennial subsequent conferences held in London, Amsterdam, Geneva and Boston. During the second world war, the Unitarian Service Committee was formed and was directed by Reverend Charles Joy to assist East Europeans who needed to escape from Nazi persecution through a network of couriers and agents that he established. The Flaming Chalice, an international symbol of Unitarianism, was drawn by Austrian artist Hans Deutsch for the organisation.
“There is something that urges me to tell you… how much I admire your utter self denial [and] readiness to serve, to sacrifice all, your time, your health, your well being, to help, help, help.
“I am not what you may actually call a believer. But if your kind of life is the profession of your faith – as it is, I feel sure – then religion, ceasing to be magic and mysticism, becomes confession to practical philosophy and – what is more – to active, really useful social work. And this religion – with or without a heading – is one to which even a ‘godless’ fellow like myself can say wholeheartedly, Yes!”
Three unaffiliated groups of Unitarians exist in Germany, the The Unitarische Freie Religionsgemeinde (Unitarian Free Religious Community) was founded in 1845 in Frankfurt am Main and who were once called “German Catholics”, The Religionsgemeinschaft Freier Protestanten (“Religious Community of Free Protestants”) was formed in 1876 in Germany’s Rheinhessen region, who in 1950 changed their name to Deutsche Unitarier Religionsgemeinschaft (“German Unitarian Religious Community”), and the Unitarian Church in Berlin which was founded by Hansgeorg Remus in 1949. In Denmark, Det fri Kirkesamfund ( The Free Congregation) was founded by a group of liberal Christians in Copenhagen. Since 1908, the church is outside the Folkekirke (the Danish Lutheran state church). In Aarhus, another Unitarian congregation was founded at this time; it has since closed.
Unitarian Churches exist in numerous locations worldwide with affiliates to the ICUU (International Council of Unitarian and Universalists). This includes churches and fellowships in Australia and New Zealand, Canada, the Czech Republic (where the ICUU is located), Germany, Great Britian, Finland, Hungary, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philipines, Poland, Romania, Russia, South Africa, Sri Lanka and the United States.
In many ways Unitarians have been a thoroughly successful religious movement whose adherents in ideas far outweights their official numbers. Most people readily accept freedom of religion, the separation of church and state, rational interpretations of allegedly holy books and even democratic management as a matter of common sense. However such rights are hardly universal to all people on this earth. Until that is the case and until the actions of human beings is motivated by the love and respect for others, then the task of Unitarians remains incomplete.
- Politics and the Pulpit. An address given by Stephen Fritchman before the Ministerial Conference of 1963
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