What We Believe
“The great end in religious instruction is not to stamp our minds upon the young, but to stir up their own; not to make them see with our eyes, but to look inquiringly and steadily with their own; not to give them a definite amount of knowledge, but to inspire a fervent love of truth; not to form an outward regularity, but to touch inward springs; not to bind them by ineradicable prejudices to our particular sect or peculiar notions, but to prepare them for impartial, conscientious judging of whatever subjects may be offered to their decision; not to burden the memory, but to quicken and strengthen the power of thought; not to impose religion upon them in the form of arbitrary rules, but to awaken the conscience, the moral discernment. In a word, the great end is to awaken the soul, to excite and cherish spiritual life.”
—William Ellery Channing
Children’s and Youth Programs (CYP) is one of the ways that the All Souls church community enacts our covenant: “To dwell together in peace, to seek the truth in love, and to help one another.” Our program reflects those aims, emphasizing curiosity, creativity, personal expression, mutual respect, environmental responsibility, and service. Our aim is not to tell our children what they must believe, but to give a variety perspectives and to promote personal confidence.
In keeping with the non-doctrinal nature of All Souls and of Unitarian Universalism in general, CYP does not consider any particular religious belief as absolute truth. Instead, we aim to present children with a full breadth of stories, ideas, and traditions from different peoples and religions around the world, including our own contemporary culture.
Although Unitarian Universalism does not claim any religious doctrine as its supreme truth, there are seven key principles that serve as ready guideposts for what we generally agree is responsible, ethical, and just living. These principles have been adapted into kid-friendly language as follows:
- Each person is important.
- Be kind in all you do.
- We’re free to learn together.
- We search for what is true.
- All people need a voice.
- Build a fair and peaceful world.
- We care for Earth’s lifeboat.