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About Unitarian Universalism

Welcome to Westside! We're glad you're here. On this page, you can find information about Unitarian Universalism. 

In Unitarian Universalism, you can bring your whole self: your full identity, your questioning mind, your expansive heart.


Together, we create a force more powerful than one person or one belief system. As Unitarian Universalists, we do not have to check our personal background and beliefs at the door: we join together on a journey that honors everywhere we’ve been before.


Our beliefs are diverse and inclusive. We have no shared creed. Our shared covenant (our seven Principles) supports “the free and responsible search for truth and meaning.” Though Unitarianism and Universalism were both liberal Christian traditions, this responsible search has led us to embrace diverse teachings from Eastern and Western religions and philosophies.

We are a community of practicing Christians and Jews, of pagans and mystics as well as atheists and agnostics. We are people who deeply, faithfully believe in God, and also people who are committed to the idea that god does not exist. We are scientists as well as seers, people who believe in past lives, people who believe in heaven, and people who believe that when we die, we are completely gone.


Unitarian Universalists include people of many beliefs who share UU values of peace, love, and understanding. We are creators of positive change in people and in the world. We are truly diverse, in reality, not just in theory. Let’s be sincerely curious with one another, then, and deeply committed to the inherent value of each perspective, no matter how familiar or foreign.

7 Principles

The Seven Principles of Unitarian Universalism


There are seven principles which 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

In our Religious Exploration program children learn a simple version of these principles, called the Rainbow Principles. 

Our Six Sources of Inspiration

  • 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 which create and uphold life;

  • Words and deeds of prophetic women and men which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love;

  • Wisdom from the world's religions which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life;

  • Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God's love by loving our neighbors as ourselves;

  • Humanist teachings which 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 which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.

Is UU for You? Watch this video to learn more.

Westside's Mission


We are a religious community that nurtures each person’s unique path of spiritual development as we live our values through service to each other and to the larger community.

Our Vision


We strive to be a religious home to all people regardless of age, gender, race, sexual orientation, opinions, beliefs, or abilities and to be good stewards of the earth. We support everyone in our congregation and extend that support to the larger community through social action activities. 

A little bit about us


Sunday Services are held at 11 a.m. Services are led by our Minister, Rev. Carol Bodeau, as well as Westside UU members and guest speakers. Topics reach beyond religious texts to include a rich variety of life’s concerns, addressed with intelligence, inspiration, and wit.

Rev. Carol Bodeau has been our settled Minister since 2015. Read her bio here.

Westside had its beginnings in a storefront in Farragut in 1987. We've been growing ever since!

Image by Dylan Gillis

Westside is governed by a Board of Trustees, chosen by our members. Meet our Board, President, and Membership Coordinator.



What can I expect from a visit to Westside?

We would like to welcome you and get to know you. We will probably offer you a name tag. We would love for you to subscribe to our weekly email newsletter, which is the primary conduit of information for the church.


What is a typical service like?

Services are informal, though there is usually a set order of how the sermon proceeds.  We try to provide you with good music, and informative and inspirational sermons. There are hymns, and sometimes readings.


Why do you light a chalice?

Hans Deutsch, an Austrian artist, first brought together the chalice and the flame as a Unitarian symbol during his work with the Unitarian Service Committee during World War II. To Deutsch, the image had connotations of sacrifice and love. Unitarian Universalists today have many different interpretations of the flaming chalice, including the light of reason, the warmth of community, and the flame of hope. 


What should I wear?

Some of our members wear informal clothing, while others choose to dress up. Wear what makes you comfortable. Perhaps avoid arriving naked.


What are "Joys and Concerns?"

Twice monthly we invite members and friends to share the significant events of their lives while lighting candles. This UU-wide tradition is a way to further connect us to one another.


Are Unitarian Universalists atheists?

Unitarian Universalists have many beliefs.  A growing number are atheists.  Others are agnostics, Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, humanists, etc. The UU church tends to attract multi-religious families as well as those disenchanted with the religion they grew up with.


Are Unitarian Universalists "Devil Worshippers"?

Of course not! Some UUs consider themselves pagans or look to the earth for their beliefs. This is in no way devil worship. We are not aware of any devil worshippers who call themselves Unitarian Universalists. By the way, the definition of "pagan" (from is, "a person holding religious beliefs other than those of the main world religions." 

Many Unitarian Universalists draw inspiration from the cycles of seasons, the beauty and complexity of the natural world, and the intricate relationships between humans and all the other life on this planet. Some of us practice indigenous religions and Modern Paganism. All of these are part of the sixth source of our living tradition, "spiritual teachings of earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature." 

Our worship services include writings, poetry, and ritual of earth-centered traditions. As allies in indigenous peoples’ struggles for cultural survival, we do not borrow indigenous practices and use them as our own. We respect indigenous religions as paths to native peoples’ spiritual and cultural renewal, and welcome those who practice them.


I am a Christian. I believe in the divinity of Jesus, but I’ve become frustrated with the church I grew up within. Would I be welcome at Westside?

Many Unitarian Universalists are Christians, and there are many Christians at Westside.  The Unitarian Universalist position about Jesus is that he was a human being who was inspired by God to love others.  Unitarian Universalism arose out of liberal Christian views. Everyone at Westside will welcome and respect your views. 


Do you pray during the service?

Most often we refer to a portion of the service as a Meditation.  Some prefer to call it prayer. The service usually ends with a benediction. Sometimes we hold hands in a circle for the benediction. It will often end with the minister saying "Go in peace."


What is the deal with all of the “coffee and fellowship” after the service?

We always  have coffee and refreshments after the service.  We use this time to see our friends and welcome new people.  UUs really like their coffee time. Please join us--the coffee is delicious and the conversation is lively!

Frequently Asked Questions


"I believe we're all one family and need each other in times of grief and gladness. And I believe in the power of human ingenuity and people of goodwill to make a difference in the world. This is my credo as a Unitarian Universalist. It's what Superman and I have in common." Christopher Reeve

(On UU as a religion): "We have religion when we look upon people with all their failings, and still find them good." Ralph N. Helverson, UU minister.

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