The third Principle of the UUA is “Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations”. This is more of an internal principle, but it is no less important to the big picture. This is the principle that makes each congregation a family in a larger movement. We accept that we are all people of value, but more over, that each UU is doing his or her best to live up to that potential. This isn’t something we can safely take into the world, in this day and age, but it is important to know that we have it in our congregations.
We accept the people who join our congregations for who they are and we respect the perspective they bring to the conversation. Whatever race, religious background, gender expression or family situation they live with, we accept that they are good people trying to bring good things into the world. We accept that, even where we disagree on the best course of action, that we are all seeking to live these 7 principles and make the world a better place. We welcome everyone who agrees to live by those principles as part of our congregation.
We also encourage each other to keep exploring, examining and working out better ways to live those principles in our lives, individually and collectively. We share our victories and our dilemmas, and we discuss traditions and new ideas alike, looking for new ways to promote our values in the world. Like a family, we help each other through each crisis and trial. It may be one of the most universally recognizable qualities we share with other churches; we fellowship and support our members, reaching out to our peers like brothers and sisters, looking out for our elders and educating our children as part of a community.
Spiritual growth requires that we challenge our beliefs and discuss our frailties, and we can only do that when we feel comfortable enough to admit weakness. We debate, we discuss, and many times we argue, but we do so knowing that we are all working towards the same goals of human dignity and peace. We all search for answers, and we accept that our path may not be shared by the person seated next to us on Sunday. We show up, though, knowing that the people we share that time with, while on their own paths to enlightenment, will help us on our journey when we are in need. We aren’t all warriors, leaders, healers or teachers, but we know that those who are will help us when our search requires us to step outside our chosen role. It is how we show our acceptance and encouragement of the family we create from our congregation.