At Universalist Recovery Church, we gather for worship and reflection at 2:00 pm every Sunday. Our Sharing Circles include readings, silence, sharing, and reflection. On the first Sunday of the month, we seek wisdom from Scripture – Biblical and other – to enhance our recovery. in the past, we held a full Worship Service with music, singing, storytelling, readings, a message, and congregational response. Though we’re taking a break from that right now, a return to a new and improved worship service is in the works.
Although not officially affiliated with the Unitarian Universalist Association, we are part of their emerging ministry program. Eastrose Fellowship Unitarian Universalist supports us by letting us meet in their worship space and gather for meetings and activities. The Rev. Barbara Stevens, who leads most of the services, is a Unitarian Universalist minister. We embrace these Unitarian Universalist connections because we honor the openness and commitment to beloved community that is part of the Unitarian Universalist tradition.
Recovery and Worship
Besides, Unitarian Universalism fits with our understanding of recovery.
For us, recovery means we commit to being our best selves and living as we are meant to live. Worshiping together supports that recovery. It helps us remember who we really are: children of the sacred earth, of the holy essence, and of life itself. In this way, worship helps us live according to our values of peace, love, freedom, hope, grace, joy, compassion, and generosity.
Recovery isn’t something we do for a while and then are done with. Recovery lasts a lifetime. Which is a great thing, because it means we get to to grow and become until we die. As we gather together, we listen, notice, and honor one another as we are. By itself, that kind of acceptance promotes healing and transformation. Yet we also invite growth by reflecting on and challenging our assumptions. Our worship provides the oneness, the sense of connection, and the love we need to heal.
As a Recovery church, we examine spiritual topics from the perspective of one who has not only survived, but has learned to thrive amid life’s pains and hardships. Indeed, we would say we thrive partly because of those struggles. We celebrate the joy of life in song, story, tears, laughter, and respectful listening.
As a Universalist congregation, we draw on the writing and teaching of all the world’s religions, as well as our personal experience with the holy, our relationship with nature, and the truth uncovered through artistic and scientific exploration. We appreciate that truth comes from our hearts as well as our minds. In our gatherings, we honor any truth that more fully enlivens us.
We believe the Unitarian Universalist principles embody such a truth. These include respecting the inherent worth of every person, a free and responsible search for truth and meaning, and encouragement toward spiritual growth. Because no one tradition holds all the truth, we seek wisdom from all the major world religions, from aboriginal and native traditions, from science, the words and deeds of religious and secular prophets, the arts, and our from own transformative experiences.
Although we are Unitarian Universalist, we claim the Universalist tradition for a reason. Universalism, in particular, embodies the belief that we are all one. The Universalist god is a loving god, one who embraces everyone. Whatever salvation may mean for you, we Universalists believe you are already saved.
There’s a joke attributed to Thomas Starr King, a minister in both the Unitarian and Universalist traditions. He said that, while Unitarians think they’re too good to be damned, Universalists believe “God is too good to damn us.” Not all Universalists believe in an afterlife, but whatever happens when we die, they agree we’re going to the same place. We do not believe in Hell, unless it is one here on earth.
Worship and Connection
Does this mean no one will be held accountable? We can’t speak for god, of course, but recovery requires that we hold ourselves and others accountable for what we do.
On the other hand, accountability might not always look the way we expect. Universalism teaches us that unless we act from a place of love and wholeness, we will not be happy. When we manipulate, torment, and condemn others, we may think we’re happy, but we’re not. Acting from our fear, we become trapped and isolated, lost in a misery we cannot admit to ourselves.
Oh, we may laugh because we got over on someone. Yet when the moment passes, we need something else to give us that high. Inside, we feel empty, bitter, and lonely.
During worship, we come together to remember who we really are. We ease our loneliness by caring about one another. We connect; we laugh with one another. We tell stories, we listen, we recognize the beauty within each person. We invite truth, compassion, and holiness.
Regardless of your Higher Power, if you seek wholeness, freedom, peace, and the healing of love and compassion, you are welcome.