Deeds, Not Creeds
Unitarian Universalists like to describe their faith as one of “deeds, not creeds.” In fact, UUs don’t have any creeds at all, preferring a philosophy that is living, evolving, and continually scrutinized for new insights and new truth, including new scientific truth.
Unitarian Universalist congregations affirm seven principles, held as strong values and moral guides. They follow these principles within a living tradition of wisdom and spirituality drawn from sources as diverse as science, poetry, scripture, and personal experience.
The seventh principle is “respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.” A special correlation can be seen between this principle and the last of the six official “sources” of UU faith: 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.
Many Hoosier UU’s believe that “the interdependent web of all existence” is currently in urgent need not just of respect but of active defense. They are also exploring the intersection of climate justice and other social justice movements, in particular partnering with the Black Lives Matter movement in the fight for racial justice, recognizing that a ecological, social, and economic sustainability are interconnected, and none of these can be attained without the others.
This is why several congregations throughout Indiana are working hard, side by side with H-IPL, to shrink their ecological footprint both where they meet and where they live:
•The UU Church of Indianapolis; the UU Church of Bloomington; All Souls Unitarian Church in Indianapolis, the UU Church of Columbus, and the UU Church of Muncie have all installed solar panels on their rooftops, many of them in partnership with grants from the Indiana Office of Energy Development. The UU Church of South Bend is in the process of installing its panels, and other congregations are actively seeking to join the renewable movement. See a lively video about Muncie’s installation and the commitments it reflects here.
• Several UU churches around the state have joined or are working to join the UU’s Green Sanctuary Program, a denominational certification that encourages environmental justice, green worship, ecological religious education, and daily sustainable living.
• Both the UU churches of Bloomington and Indianapolis have signed Interfaith Power & Light’s Paris Pledge, working toward carbon neutrality by 2050, and are encouraging others to do so.
• Many of H-IPL’s most active volunteers spring from the UU community, from Board Vice-Chair Ray Wilson, member of UU Indy and leader of Using Energy Prudently, to Bruce Russell-Jayne, Board Treasurer and retired UU minister, to Molly O’Donnell, member of UU Bloomington who also works in several other environmental initiatives, including the Monroe County Energy Challenge, where she is an acclaimed Energy Leader. They along with a host of other environmental leaders such as Stephanie Kimball (Bloomington), Wayne Meyer (Muncie), Kevin Bump (West Lafayette), and Allen Gifford (Columbus) have often served as the voice of reason and urgency when it comes to living out environmental justice in Indiana.
Unitarian Universalists from nine congregations across Indiana met in early June to form connections across the state for support and encouragement. They toured the UU Church of Indy, which has reduced its utility bills by over 45% through energy conservation actions and solar panels. They also discussed collective goals and dreams, and explored H-IPL’sUsing Energy Prudently website and tools, including Energy Stewards, a program to track energy use, costs and—with success—savings. This web-based program allows subsets of congregations to view one another's progress as an incentive to stay on task. Hope was expressed that UUs could become the first entire Using Energy Prudently Acclaimed Denomination, and they challenge other faith groups to a little friendly competition on that goal. Can your denomination beat that?
According to Wayne Meyer of Muncie, history has shown that spiritual conviction and moral fervor—and not financial bottom-line calculations—have made the real difference in bringing about major social change. Environmental degradation and the climate crisis that human beings, especially in industrialized countries such as ours, have wreaked upon the natural environment constitute our generation’s challenge to human and ecological survival. The Unitarian Universalists among us work to help bring humans to live in harmony not only with one another but with nature’s remarkable web of existence.