parishioners lighting candles

A Bit of History

The First Parish of West Cambridge was first gathered in 1678 with the founding of the town that, after the Civil War, was renamed Arlington (like Arlington National Cemetery).

In 1829 the members of First Parish found themselves in sympathy with the liberal religious views of their time and formally chose to ally with the American  Unitarian Association.  In 1961 the American Unitarian Association merged with the Universalist Church of America, becoming the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations (UUA). In 1962 the members of the Universalist Church in Arlington merged with First Parish to become First Parish Unitarian Universalist.

About Unitarian Universalism

With its historical roots in the Jewish and Christian traditions, Unitarian Universalism is a liberal religion -- that is, a religion that keeps an open mind to the religious questions people have struggled with in all times and places. We believe that personal experience, conscience and reason should be the final authorities in religion, and that in the end religious authority lies not in a book or person or institution, but in ourselves. We are a "non-creedal" religion: we do not ask anyone to subscribe to a creed.

Our congregations are self-governing. Authority and responsibility are vested in the membership of the congregation. Each Unitarian Universalist congregation is involved in many kinds of programs. Worship is held regularly, the insights of the past and the present are shared with those who will create the future, service to the community is undertaken, and friendships are made. A visitor to a UU congregation will very likely find events and activities such as church school, day-care centers, lectures and forums, support groups, poetry festivals, family events, adult education classes and study groups.

UUs are united by shared values. Our Statement of Purposes and Principles is not a creed but rather a general statement of what we hold dear and the several religious traditions from that we draw inspiration.

There are seven principles that Unitarian Universalist congregations affirm and promote:

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


Unitarian Universalism (UU) draws from many sources:

  • Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces that create and uphold life
  • Words and deeds of prophetic women and men that challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love
  • Wisdom from the world's religions that inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life
  • Jewish and Christian teachings that call us to respond to God's love by loving our neighbors as ourselves
  • Humanist teachings that counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science, and warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit
  • Spiritual teachings of earth-centered traditions that celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature

These principles and sources of faith are the backbone of our religious community.

Please click here for 10 Things I Wish Everyone Knew About Unitarian Universalism, by Galen Guengerich

Please visit the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) for more information about Unitarian Universalism.

Check out What We Believe for another statement of UU beliefs written by First Parish's minister, Rev. Marta Flanagan.

630 MASSACHUSETTS AVENUE   ♦   ARLINGTON, MASSACHUSETTS 02476   ♦   781-648-3799

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