College Corner: Unitarian/Universalism returns to campus

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

Jon Estey ’08 and Julia Bertaut ’08 are bringing Unitarian/Universalism back to the Swarthmore campus. The gazette staff was curious as to just what Unitarian/Universalism is and how the new group is doing, so this reporter sat down with one of the founders in order to get the inside scoop.

Daily Gazette: Unitarian/Universalism (UUism) isn’t something everybody knows about. What are some of its main facets?
Jon Estey: It’s odd because it’s a religion without a creed. Usually religions are based a certain set of beliefs, but UUism is about how you arrive at your beliefs instead of what those beliefs are and we believe that what you believe in can change. UUs are dedicated to a lifelong search for truth. We have seven principles to guide one’s search and look to each other to support rather than to a common God.

DG: What is your background with UUism?
JE: I’ve been a UU all my life. My father was raised as one and my mother was born Jewish but converted early in life. It suits her spiritual needs much better than Judaism did. I haven’t been doing to the conns, though, so I’ve really only been experienced to the pale side of UUism.
DG: So what is a conn?
JE: It’s a youth gathering where society rules go out the window. You just do all sorts of fun stuff like watching movies. Kind of like college without all of the work.
DG: Do you talk about religion?
JE: There are religious moments, but mostly it’s all about fun. That’s eomething we can all share.

DG: Can you be in a “traditional” religion and still be a UU?
JE: Sure. There are UUs from all kind of dominations. There is a difference between, say, Christian UUs and other Christians. A Christian UU should have an open-mindedness and willingness to change beliefs.

DG: I understand that there used to be a UU group on campus, but it had been defunct until you and Julia arrived?
JE: Yes, there used to be a group, but its leaders graduated.
DG: How are you going about reforming the UU group?
JE: I’m getting names of people who are interested. We’re trying to publicize ourselves with flyers, and we had a reserved-students email sent out. We meet from 7:00-8:00 p.m on Saturdays in Bond.
DG: So if somebody is interested in getting involved, they should go to a meeting?
JE: Yes. It’s very simple; you can just come and have fun.

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