Love at the Center is available in ebook format now from retailers like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and wherever ebooks are sold. If you order Love at the Center on this page you are pre-ordering a printed copy of the book coming this fall, which will be updated after the 2024 General Assembly and may include additional chapters that are not in the current version of the ebook.

Product Code: 2016
ISBN: 9781558969414
Format: Paperback / softback
Publisher: Skinner House Books
Pages: 224
Size: 8.5 x 5.5
Published Date: 10/15/2024
Availability: Not currently available.
(Backorder policy)
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Price: $18.00

Love at the Center is available in ebook format now from retailers like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and wherever ebooks are sold. If you order Love at the Center on this page you are pre-ordering a printed copy of the book coming this fall, which will be updated after the 2024 General Assembly and may include additional chapters that are not in the current version of the ebook.

The October 2024 Justice and Spirit: Unitarian Universalist Book Club selection.

“Given everything our world faces today, having faith in love is no small thing.” - Rev. Dr. Sofía Betancourt

Unitarian Universalists as a progressive religious community hold a humbling expectation to periodically re-evaluate the freely chosen covenant that holds us together. While this work impacts the bylaws that define our governance structures, it also gives life to the values we express in common cause. We do this work to live into the Unitarian Universalism of the future.

In response to the Article II Study Commission and the more than 10,000 Unitarian Universalists who answered complex questions about the values that guide their faithful living, it is clear that the value most describe as central to their faith, to their living, and to the mission of their congregations is love itself. We are a people guided by, and centered in, our engagement with all that love requires.

Our pressing task now is to ask ourselves and each other how this understanding calls us forward, individually and collectively. We may agree that love is central, but what does that mean to us and what does it require of us? It is in that spirit that we asked more than two dozen leaders in our movement the question of what it means to put love at the center of our faith.

In these pages, you’ll find personal testimony to love’s power, reminders of the centrality of love throughout the long histories of Universalism and Unitarianism, and theologies of love drawn from many different expressions of Unitarian Universalism - from the natural world to the justice rally, to a loved one’s deathbed, to the quiet moment before a worship service begins. May Love at the Center serve as an invitation to deepen your own understanding and practices of love.


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Preface by Rev. Sofía Betancourt

1. The Theology of Love Was Never a Monologue by Rev. Nancy McDonald Ladd

2. Something Wild, Something New, Something Beautiful by Rev. Juniper Meadows

3. We Call These Things Love by Rev. Adam Robersmith

4. Reflections of a Japanese-Descent UU on Cultural Contexts of “Love” by Rev. Shige Sakurai

5. Beloved Community Is Love at the Center by Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray

6. Hospice and Hors D’oeuvres by Rev. Nathan Detering

7. Digging Graves by Rev. Sam Teitel

8. Leaning into Interconnectedness by Rev. Sierra-Marie Gerfao

9. The Prophet of Love Near You by Rev. Natalie Fenimore

10. Behind the Shade by Glen Thomas Rideout

11. Love Makes a Family by Liz James

12. The Transformative Power of Love by Rev. Manish Mishra-Marzetti

13. There Is a Love Holding Us by Rev. Sheri Prud’homme

14. Unitarian Universalism—One Holy Love for All by Connie Goodbread

15. Love Is Abolition by Rev. Karen Van Fossan

16. Love and Risk by Robert C. Spirko

17. When Love Is Criminalized by Rev. Elizabeth Nguyen

18. From Longing to Fully Living by Rev. Mykal O. Slack

19. Love and Power at the Center by Rev. Mary Katherine Morn

20. Love, a Work in Process by Rev. Bill Sinkford

21. On Love by Rev. Marco Belletini

22. Love Is the Heart of This Church by Dan McKanan

23. Liberating Love by Rev. Fredric Muir

24. Finding Love in the Streets by Rev. Jason Lydon

25. Death and Glory, Love and Evil by Rev. Ashley Horan

26. Love Is a Circle in Time by Rev. Rebecca Ann Parker

For Further Reading

About the Contributors

Preface

Unitarian Universalists as a progressive religious community hold a humbling expectation to periodically re-evaluate the freely chosen covenant that holds us together. While this work impacts the bylaws that define our governance structures, it also gives life to the values we express in common cause. At the time of this writing, Unitarian Universalism has been engaging in that very self-evaluation of who we are as an association of congregations and the core theological values that we hold dear.

With profound gratitude for the work of the Article II Study Commission, and the more than 10,000 Unitarian Universalists who answered complex questions about the values that guide their faithful living, I also want to celebrate the importance of UU theologies of love even outside the expectations of covenantal review. The value most UUs describe as central to their faith, to their living, and to the mission of their congregations is love itself. We are a people guided by, and centered in, our engagement with all that love requires.

This should come as no surprise; we have long understood ourselves to be bearers of love and justice in the world—those who show up for peace and freedom, who side with love in the face of all that would otherwise diminish our humanity. It is meaningful when a community of people known for diverse and divergent beliefs builds consensus on something this impactful. Love is what we express as our highest value. Every time. Larger than life. Right at the center of our living tradition. Our pressing task now is to ask ourselves and each other how this understanding calls us forward, individually and collectively. We may agree that love is central, but what does that mean to us and what does it require of us? It is in that spirit that we asked more than two dozen leaders in our movement the question of what it means to put love at the center of our faith.

This beautiful book holds powerful wisdom in response to those important questions. In these pages, you’ll find personal testimony to love’s power, reminders of the centrality of love throughout the long histories of Universalism and Unitarianism, and theologies of love drawn from many different expressions of Unitarian Universalism - from the natural world to the justice rally, to a loved one’s deathbed, to the quiet moment before a worship service begins. A common question that UUs often face is how we can be a religion if we do not lay claim to one clearly delineated theological truth. The answer is love. Our inherited theological tradition places its faith in love. Given everything our world faces today, having faith in love is no small thing.

The love that lives at the center of this faith is very simply the love that abides, as Rev. Barbara Hamilton-Holway often tells us. It is a love that expects nothing less of us than the rebuilding of this struggling world. Sometimes what we know of love and justice pushes us in ways we never expected. And sometimes the need to bear such love into the world is heartbreakingly large. It is in those moments that we most need one another, and most need beloved community. We need reminding and solidarity, connection and care. Our freely made choice to participate in that greater community can slowly renew us and even repair the kinds of grief that have been building for many of us, to restore what we long to hold at our own centers and to heal that which keeps us from being more loving.

We hold a love greater than we know between and among us, born from all that we hold holy. It takes many of us, in community, to insist that a better future is possible, to keep us faithful to our commitments when we err or falter, and to remind us that we are constantly connected to a hope-filled belief in human goodness and capacity for love, even when we feel furthest from that which is larger than our own knowing.

My hope is that this volume will offer us all an invitation to deepen our own expressions and practices of love. May it remind us that our centering in love is not new, but rather a critical core of our inherited theological tradition. When we feel ourselves longing to define love’s singular meaning, may we remember the wisdom in these pages. And may they keep us accountable to our freely chosen faith.

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