Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans

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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 judg-mental 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 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.