" Universal Community of Friends, Grove City, Pennsylvania, USA - Spiritual Statement
universal community of friends
The University Community of Friends: Dedicated to the advancement of human rights for all people everywhere.

Universal Community of Friends, Grove City, Pennsylvania, USA

Spiritual Statement

In 1983, the UCF grew from a diverse group of people with a wide range of spiritual perspectives, including Quaker, Sufi, Buddhist, Christian, Unitarian, neo-Pagan, Agnostic, Atheist, and non-religious (spiritual). We needed to organize ourselves as a group at that time in order to establish our own school for our children, and to gain the separation of church and state that was available to Catholics, Baptists, Presbyterians, Jews, Muslims, and every other person who belonged to a religious group. We were challenged to find one "religious" organization that we all could feel comfortable with.

Some were actively involved with the Quakers (Religious Society of Friends) and many of the Quaker principles resonated with the group -- no ministers, no hierarchy, political and social activism, resistance to war, and George Fox's maxim (here paraphrased): "There is that of divinity in all people," which got him in a lot of trouble in Europe 400 years ago, but made sense to us.

Upon further pursuing a "Friends" affiliation, we found that established Quaker groups insisted that we call ourselves a Christian organization, which, to us, was an unnecessary and unacceptable limitation. We did not want any religious affiliation that was exclusive in any regard. Furthermore, the established Quaker groups insisted upon adherence to their tradition of "silent" meetings, which, to us, were not satisfying.

So we decided to take the Quaker perspective and "evolve" it to the next level. We advanced George Fox's maxim to state, "There is that of divinity in all things." This is more in line with our group's universal way of thinking, in which most feel that the natural world is itself sacred. Then, we changed the silent meetings to become meetings of activity, noisy at times. We dispensed with some of the quaint but, to us, obsolete manners of Quakerism, such as the term "clerk" for those who play active, responsible roles in the organization. We dropped "clerk" and adopted "steward" for our own group. Also, we felt no need to use other quaint terms of the old version of Quakerism, such as "first day" for "Sunday," etc.

In short, we formed a new "religious" organization based upon the Religious Society of Friends, calling ourselves the Universal Community of Friends, and we developed in a new manner more appropriate for the times, more flexible, eclectic, and inclusive. We felt that advancing Quakerism was an appropriate development for our particular location in western Pennsylvania as Pennsylvania is traditionally referred to as the "Quaker State." Traditional Quaker groups considered us to be a "splinter" group, although we considered ourselves completely independent, and still do. However, we also consider ourselves kindred spirits with the Quakers as well as with any group that is concerned with protecting both human and non-human rights.

We refused to call ourselves a "religious" organization. We prefer the term "spiritual." This small detail proved troublesome, however, with regard to the state of Pennsylvania and our incorporation as a "religious" organization. Our articles of incorporation in 1984 initially made no mention of a Deity, and the state rejected our incorporation on that account, which seemed preposterous at the time (who are they to say what constitutes a Supreme Being?). We then amended our founding principles, suggesting that the most supreme manifestation of Being which we are capable of knowing is the Universe itself, and the Universe would have to suffice as a "Supreme Being" or "God" for the purposes of satisfying the state's idea of religion. Once over this hump, our "universal" religious affiliation was established -- one that was all inclusive. If a member wanted to believe in some form of creator deity, that was his or her business, but it was not the policy of the UCF to endorse any sort of particular religious perspective other than that the universe itself is sacred, or, to continue with George Fox's line of thought, "There is that of divinity in all things."


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