Friday, December 4, 2009

A field trip

One of my classes has us interviewing a UU from an "emerging" UU tradition - a growing presence. I have been assigned to France. Immediately, I got online and googled "Unitarian France" and emailed two likely candidates. I had a reply when I got home, and it is just charming! I feel rather like I am off on a trip!

I am hoping that they want to pen pal a bit beyond the "interview" assigned, as I'd love to know more about being a UU in Europe and just get to know them a bit more as people!

I can't read but a little bit of French - enough to get the drift, but enjoyed visiting, where I found my first victim. Being a former journalist, I have a million questions!

My second victim, whom I have not heard back from yet, is at There are tons of links there. I also had a fun time doing a European tour of Unitarianism. I visited multiple countries, which is helping me with my final paper on the development of Unitarianism in Canada. I am also reading some texts (probably not interesting to many but me) that are quite old and document that history.

If you're interested, you can also visit Unitarian Europe:
Sunday: UU Fellowship of Paris (
At 3:00 pm., we will visit the Temple de Pentemont in France, where we will hear a sermon from a visiting minister, possibly Rev. Art Lester. Michael Servetus was executed in effigy by the Catholic Inquisition in 1553.

Monday: Geneva, Switzerland. In the city where Michael Servetus was burned at the stake as an antitrinitarian heretic and martyr, we can now visit the Quaker House to enjoy a service.

Tuesday: Franfurt, Germany. We will visit the monthly meeting of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Frankfurt and chat with the members about their topics that explore the connections with other religious traditions. From there, we will hop over to the Kaiserslautern UU Fellowship. Both congregations are affiliated with the EUU.

Wednesday: University of Seville. We will visit the university where José Maria Blanco White (, a famous poet, studied in 1790. He became an Anglican priest, and eventually a Unitarian. He was very politically active and wrote prolifically in Spain and England about politics and theology. He moved to England in 1835 and became a Unitarian, corresponding with American Unitarians, and writing articles and poetry. Spain is also the birthplace of Michael Servetus, who died for his heretical beliefs. From there we will travel to visit the meeting place of the UUs of Catalunya, in Barcelona.

Thursday: We will visit Essex Street, London (, home of The General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches. There we will meet briefly with Rev. Bob Wightman, the current President of the Assembly. Then we can read some history of the building, which was founded in 1774 by Joseph Priestley (who discovered oxygen the same year). He died in Pennsylvania in 1804.

Friday: We continue on to County Tyrone, Ireland, to visit the birth place of John Abernathy (, a Presbyterian minister who started the Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church of Ireland. He was famous for his discussions of non-creedal beliefs, and protecting the civil liberties of those religious outside of the mainstream Catholic and Presbyterian faiths.

Saturday: We travel a distance to Hungary, where we find the history of the famous composer Bela Bartok, who though raised Roman Catholic, traveled to Transylvania as part of his studies and discovered Unitarianism. In 1917, he became a member of the Mission House Congregation of the Unitarian Church in Budapest. He eventually moved to the United States due to the political unrest in Europe during World War II. While in Hungary, we can visit Prague and the Czech Unitarian Church.

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