CUUPS Mission and Vision Statement

CUUPS Mission and Vision Statement May 27, 2015

The CUUPS Revisioning process is almost complete.  Based on our surveys of members, friends, chapters and congregations, the Revisioning team has crafted a mission and vision statement to guide our operations for the next ten years.

The statement will be open for public comments until Sunday, June 7.  At that point, the team will make any necessary changes and present it to the CUUPS membership for a vote.

While we have solicited input from all our stakeholders during this process, voting on the mission and vision statement will be limited to members of CUUPS Continental.  If you aren’t a member already, now would be a good time to join.

Walden 2013 by John Beckett

The Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans

Mission:  CUUPS is a Unitarian Universalist covenant group dedicated to supporting UU Pagans, to promoting Paganism within Unitarian Universalism, and to promoting Unitarian Universalism within Paganism.

Who are we? 

  1. We are both Pagan and UU.
  2. We support UU values, principles, and causes.
  3. We bring a UU approach to Paganism – we draw from many sources and we oppose any attempt to establish orthodoxy or anything resembling it.
  4. We value Nature, our experiences of Nature, and our relationships with Nature.
  5. We have an interest in gods and spirits.  Fully aware of the uncertainty and diversity of such matters, we are exploring what they are and what it means to experience them.
  6. We bring a Pagan approach to Unitarian Universalism, inviting UUs to explore Paganism and Pagan spiritual practices.

How are we gathered?  CUUPS consists of solitaries, chapters, and gatherings.  Solitaries are individual members throughout North America and beyond.  Chapters are groups affiliated with local congregations and chartered by CUUPS Continental.   Gatherings are both formal and informal get-togethers among members and friends.

Who do we serve?  Individual members serve various deities, principles, values, and communities as dictated by their own consciences.  CUUPS chapters and CUUPS Continental serve our members, the Pagan community, and the UU community.

Why are we here?  Individual UU Pagans have many reasons for being CUUPS members.  The job of our chapters and CUUPS Continental is to encourage individuals to be the best UU Pagans they can be and to provide resources to help them do so.

How do we do that?

  1. We give people a community of interest to belong to – we create a shared identity and shared commitment.  Our mission and vision statements form our foundation, and our internet site (currently is our storehouse of information and resources.  We support our shared identity and shared commitment through our social media outlets, our newsletter, our podcast, and our blog.
  2. The CUUPS Board of Trustees coordinates the work of our Librarians and Curators.   They facilitate dialogue within UU Paganism, they network and dialogue with other Pagan organizations, and they identify and share best practices – they show us what’s possible.  They look for ways to encourage deeper spiritual practice, to encourage more social and environmental action, and to facilitate events for participation and growth.  They promote and advertise CUUPS – they make sure people who want what we offer know we’re here.
  3. We cover four main areas of interest.
    1. Information for beginners:  the basics of Paganism, the basics of Unitarian Universalism, and the basics of CUUPS.
    2. Practices to facilitate spiritual growth and to draw us into deeper community:  regular spiritual practice techniques, rituals for individuals and groups, ideas for experiencing, honoring, and relating to Nature, and ideas for experiencing, honoring, and relating to gods and spirits.
    3. Guidelines for chapter operations:  forming a chapter, right relationships with host congregations and other institutions, and basic leadership skills.
    4. Social justice:  supporting UU values and causes, and supporting Pagan values and causes.
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  • Julia Traver

    “We have an interest in gods and spirits. ” I had belonged to a UU congregation since 1985. In fact, while I was Chair of Programming I invited 2 of the founders of CUUPS to speak. I even spoke on goddess spirituality. And then I grew up and recognized my polytheism, my theism, the fact that I truly believe in an uncountable multiplicity of Gods. I believe that modern “paganism” ultimately will not hold as a religion. I have no mere “interest” in Gods or spirits. They exist. To be wishy-washy about this shows a great deal of impiety. People can still question; but, you must ACT (orthopraxis) in Their presence.

  • As a devotional polytheist, I’m right there with you.

    As a UU, I’m committed to providing a safe and accepting space for Pagans of all theological persuasions.

    Given the still-strong Humanist influence in Unitarian Universalism, I was rather surprised that our surveys turned up such a strong interest in Gods and spirits. About 60% of the respondents think they’re real, distinct beings and the other 40% think they’re metaphors or other psychological phenomena.

    However, with the inherent skepticism of UUs, most CUUPS members don’t know how to explore relationships with Gods and spirits, nor how best to interpret their experiences of them. Identifying and promoting helpful practices while not insisting on orthodoxy (or orthopraxy) will be the challenge for those who implement this Mission and Vision.

    Thanks for your comments.

  • John Galt

    Perhaps it would be prudent to elaborate on what UU/Pagan “values and causes” are. This could also tie into point #4 about valuing nature; I believe that one of the most important things we can do in terms of social justice is to advocate for making the benefits of nature available to all: fighting to preserve public lands, getting underprivileged individuals (inner-city youth, veterans, people with disabilities, etc.) into the outdoors to experience the mental health and other benefits that go along with connecting with nature, encouraging Americans to reconnect with our public lands system, etc. These may not be “Pagan” per se but they relate to the Pagan ideals of honoring and protecting nature.

  • Thank you for doing this work. I think that an explicit statement about avoiding cultural appropriation would be very important, given that the rights of indigenous people ought to be a top social justice priority for us as UUs. Saying that we “draw from many sources” without specifying that we oppose unwanted borrowing from other cultures in negative, harmful ways seems problematic to me. I also think that explicitly welcoming people of genders and orientations is important as well, since many of our churches are welcoming congregations, and sometimes people in the LGBT+ community feel left out of many highly heteronormative neoPagan rites and communities.

  • “However, with the inherent skepticism of UUs, most CUUPS members don’t know how to explore relationships with Gods and spirits, nor how best to interpret their experiences of them.”

    I think this is a fascinating observation, John. Similarly, I’m never quite sure how to relate my experiences of Gods and spirits when talking to fellow UUs. Thank you for this food for thought.

  • Julia Traver

    John, this is where a regular devotional practice comes in and should be encouraged. If the person is drawn to a particular pantheon, information about organizations such as Hellenion, Religio Romana, Kemetic Orthodoxy, The Troth, etc. should be provided. I am even acquainted with real Celtic Recons (you reviewed one of her books ;-). ) Trying to make out that you/CUUPS are a “one-size-fits-all” is malpractice as well as being hubristic. So, yes, the first thing people should hear is that other people really do believe in multiple deities — and they are not crazy.

  • Agreed – one size fits all religion doesn’t work. That’s why we’ve included 3.2 under “how do we do this?” – we want to identify and share practices that lead to spiritual depth.

    Denton CUUPS is doing this now, at least for those who want to participate in it. Our vision for the future is for all chapters to have resources so that if a polytheist walks into a chapter full of Wiccans and humanists, they’ll be able to help the new person find the path that calls to them.

  • I’m working on a piece for Under the Ancient Oaks titled “A Skeptic’s Guide to Gods and Spirits” that will offer one way this might be approached. Look for it late Sunday or early Monday.

  • What are the benefits of joining CUUPS? I’m checking out the website, but I’m not clear.

  • Yeah- I mostly joined the UUs because it provided a stable community structure that I wasn’t finding among Pagans. It was more for emotional/social support than encouragement of spiritual growth- too generic for that. If I lived in an area that was smaller, and UUs were one of the few places I could be openly Pagan, maybe I’d bother with a CUUPs group, but here in the Twin Cities it feels rather superfluous. It’s good as a gateway kinda group, but when you’ve been Pagan for a longer time, it feels too much like you have to water things down. I do feel my UU values balance out some aspects of polytheist movements that go a little too extreme though!