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Unitarian Universalist Meeting House of Pittsfield, Maine

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What Do Unitarian Universalists Believe?

Unitarian Universalism affirms and promotes seven Principles, grounded in the humanistic teachings of the world's religions. Our spirituality is unbounded, drawing from scripture and science, nature and philosophy, personal experience and ancient tradition as described in our six sources

The Seven Principles are:

  1. The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
  2. Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
  3. Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
  4. A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
  5. The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
  6. The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
  7. Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

 

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The Spirit of Place

May 28, 2017

There are some readers out there who don’t make it to church too often. Some don’t come at all, and yet, through the grapevine, we’ve heard your curiosity about the health of the church and its future. Gossip is a prayer, and it works in ways we don’t always understand even as we speak it. Like a prayer, these whispered feelings find their way into the genii locorum of our church. 

Yes, I just wrote “genii locorum.” That’s the plural of the noun “genius loci,” a term that architects use to describe the spirit or ambiance of a place often the result of the way light plays on a structure or landscape. But in ancient Rome, the term described a protective spirit within or surrounding a particular landmark or landscape - a kind of guardian angel of place.

It is that genii locorum that speaks to us when we're in the church. It helps, also, to be reading our history and thinking about what it must have been like to see the Universalist Meeting Hall stripped of its steeple and turned 90 degrees; to envision, raise the funds, and then build the sanctuary; to watch the bell be hoisted into place; to see the drapery glass installed panel by panel; to commission paintings by world-famous muralist Harry Hayman Cochrane; to hear the organ played for the first time.

In 1967, the church celebrated its 100th anniversary and, at the time, was inspired for the next 100. Right now, we’ve just begun our sesquicentennial: we’ll celebrate 150 years in 2017. But if we want to continue to celebrate our UU values and principles in that building with those genii locorum, we have to take action.

We recently visited with a structural engineer, architects, and in a week, we'll begin working with Maine Preservation to assess the building inside and out, up to the rafters and down to the basement. We're discussing water penetration and the structural issues as well as the aesthetics of plaster and paint, tapestries and windows. We are stewards of an incredible place and we must address the bones and the skin of our beloved church. We all know this. We’ve been talking about it for years. So we'll begin with assessments, then prioritize, budget, and plan. Then we raise money. We fix the bones, then the skin, then get to work on restoration and usefulness. 

The genii locorum are calling.

If you are interested in history, this church matters: the people who founded Pittsfield also built this church. The Vickerys, Lanceys, Mansons, Parks, and Hathorns are just some of the families who helped establish first the meeting house and then the “First Universalist Society of Pittsfield” with the aim of promoting “liberal Christianity.” This particular church was created by the self-same people that created the wider community of our town. Its founders were the people who made the church what it is today and who also generously bestowed upon us a great responsibility.

If you care about art, this church matters: its architecture, its paintings, its stained glass windows, and the organ that sits at the center of it all are exquisite the likes of which we only occasionally have the opportunity to see in Central Maine.  And this, all in one place, in Pittsfield, Maine, a showcase of what master builders were capable of without cranes and heavy equipment. This church is a gem worthy of our attention. It is a gem with significance to the State of Maine and the history of Unitarian Universalism in the United States.

If you care about Unitarian Universalism, this is the place where we gather to remind ourselves of those values, the place where we join together as a community to reach out to others and practice that vision in the world. It is a place for the faithful and atheists alike, for the hopeful and active, the old and the young. It is place that welcomes all because we are all spiritual seekers navigating an increasingly divisive world. It is sanctuary.

Yes, it will take a lot of money. 

Yes, we will need more than our small congregation to do this. We will need the larger community of Pittsfield, we’ll need statewide resources, and we’ll need help from national organizations, foundations, and philanthropists. 

It’s a big goal, yes. But one I hope you’ll join us in undertaking. 

The genii locorum are calling. Will you answer?


Holly Zadra
Council Moderator

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