Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans
The Unitarian Universalist Association began in the activity
of various Christian ministers who rejected some of the doctrines
that in the nineteenth century were considered essential
to orthodox Christian faith. John Murray led a group who believed
in universal salvation and rejected the idea of a judgmental
God and a hell of eternal torment. William Ellery Channing
led a group who rejected the idea of the Trinity and the
associated idea of the divinity of Jesus. They believed in the
unity of God and that Jesus was God’s son. Unitarian and Universalists
emerged as the most liberal wing of Protestant Christianity.
Their commonalties led to their merging in 1961. By
the time of the merger, both groups had become quite diverse
and the drift from their Christian origin more pronounced.
Within the organization were ministers and members who drew
their inspiration from a variety of spiritual streams from Buddhism
to Humanism, and groups were formed within the association
to give voice to the different spiritual paths that were
being followed.
By the mid-1980s, some Unitarians had come into contact
with the emerging Wicca/Pagan community and the Goddess
Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed. Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans
worship and feminism so central to it. At the 1985 meeting of
the association, these pro-Pagans held a summer solstice ritual
and discussed the possibility of establishing an ongoing organization.
An interim steering committee began to function, a
newsletter was begun, and Margo Adler, author of Drawing
Down the Moon, a survey of modern Paganism, was invited to
speak at the 1987 meeting. During that meeting the Covenant
of Unitarian Universalist Pagans (CUUPs) was formally organized.
CUUPs quickly emerged as one of the strongest subgroups
within the association. Many Unitarians, already committed to
feminist values, were attracted to Goddess worship. Many Pagans,
unhappy with their life disconnected from the established
religious community, saw CUUPs as a means to remain Pagan
but gain some legitimacy in the culture. CUUPs also became a
means for Pagans to gain a seminary education at the Unitarian
Universalist seminaries. Chapters emerged across the United
States and by the end of the 1990s there were more than 80.
CUUPs is headed by a board of directors. It holds an annual
gathering that has become one of the best attended sessions at
the annual international summer meeting of the Unitarian
Universalist Association. The CUUPs newsletter, Pagan NUUS,
is published at the headquarters, which may be contacted at
Box 640, Cambridge, MA 02140.
Adler, Margot. Drawing Down the Moon. Rev. ed. Boston:
Beacon Press, 1997.