We are very grateful for the support of our 792 members, a membership that makes the Fifth Principle Project among the largest member organizations in the UU denomination. We are grateful that in this time of tumult and upcoming decisions on the fate of UU liberalism, UUs have a forum to share ideas and express concern or hope.
Three years ago, we wrote Used to Be UU and established this website because we realized there was no mechanism provided by the Unitarian Universalist Association for everyday UUs to communicate with one another. As we wrote in the Introduction of our book
Having a denomination-wide conversation is difficult since the UUA Board controls all channels for mass communication, the Association’s budget, and sets the agenda for General Assembly. We have no way of communicating with UUs across the nation.
We are grateful that our mission to give UUs a voice in the debate has succeeded, at least in some small measure.
We will be taking the holidays off and resuming in January, but we wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.
First, we must attend to two housekeeping details.
In our Financial Times Article posted December 12, 2023, we had a technical problem with the free link to Jemima Kelly’s article, “The culture wars dividing America’s most liberal church.” We later posted a PDF link. A reader also provided a link to an archive version of the article.
Kelly’s article was the first time a major news outlet has covered the evolving situation within the denomination. We felt a responsibility to make UUs aware of this coverage.
Sorry, No Chalica for You!
We regret that holiday cheer is not in the air from our national UU leadership. After lending support for over a dozen years to the UU-centric holiday called Chalica, our Association leadership has decreed that UUs should no longer celebrate Chalica.
Chalica, although not widely known or celebrated, was started in 2005 by Daylene Marshall when she was a student at the Vancouver School of Theology in Vancouver, British Columbia. Quoting from a 2009 UU World article, “Chalica, new weeklong UU holiday, slowly gains adherents.”
I don’t remember where the initial conversation started. I had been talking with a UU friend from Seattle about winter holidays and the fact there should be a UU holiday.
Chalica is a celebration of Unitarian Universalism’s Seven Principles. The general outline of the ritual is to light a candle on the first Monday of December and recite and reflect upon a UU Principle. There are variations, such as celebrating a Principle once a week for seven weeks.
There is no rule for how the chalice or display should look, but there are traditionally seven candles around the chalice, one for each principle. Activities on each day vary and may include discussions, group activities, and songs.
In a December 9, 2023, update to the Chalica page on the UUA website, UUs were directed “to refrain from engaging in Chalica-related activities.” The decree was issued because the lighting of seven candles “felt like a harmful appropriation of holidays like Kwanzaa and Hanukkah.” It continued,
Out of respect for faith traditions and people who have been historically marginalized, we encourage Unitarian Universalists to refrain from engaging in Chalica-related activities—and to use these new understandings to help us recognize appropriation.
Let’s all hope Charles Dickens’s ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future have a visit to our UU leadership on their calendars.