About First Unitarian Church of Alton
The First Unitarian Church of Alton is a caring, open-minded church that encourages each individual to seek his/her own spiritual path. Our faith welcomes inspiration from many religious sources, welcoming people with different beliefs. In this place, people gather to nurture their spirits and put their faith into action by helping to make our community—and the world—a better place.
To learn more about our community, please CLICK HERE to watch a video with images of our congregation and member, Layne Simpson, describing why she chooses our congregation.
What is UU?
From the Unitarian Universalist Association website:
Unitarian Universalism is a big faith, one that embraces a diversity of background and belief. Here your conscience, your experience, and your identity matter. We affirm seven principles, the first of which is a deep recognition of each person’s inherent dignity and worth. We put our faith into action through social and environmental justice work in our communities and the wider world.
Unitarian Universalists (UUs) identify with and draw inspiration from Atheism and Agnosticism, Buddhism, Christianity, Humanism, Judaism, Earth-Centered Traditions, Hinduism, Islam, and more. Many UUs have grown up in these traditions—some have grown up with no religion at all.
For further information, we invite you to explore the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations website or come visit us for a service at the First Unitarian Church of Alton!
Beliefs and Values
Unitarian Universalism is a non-creedal faith which allows each Unitarian Universalist the freedom to search for truth on many paths. While our congregations uphold shared principles, individuals may discern their own beliefs about spiritual, ethical, and theological issues.
Unitarian Universalist congregations together affirm and promote seven Principles. We also share a “living tradition” of wisdom and spirituality, drawn from many sources. The seven Principles and six Sources of the Unitarian Universalist Association grew out of the grassroots of our communities, were affirmed democratically, and are part of who we are.
The UU Seven Principles
The Unitarian Universalist Association’s (UUA’s) seven principles express the shared values that UUA congregations affirm and promote:
- The inherent worth and dignity of every person
- (Each person is important)
- Justice, equity and compassion in human relations
- (Be kind in all you do)
- Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations
- (We’re free to learn together)
- A free and responsible search for truth and meaning
- (We search for what is true)
- The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large
- (All people need a voice)
- The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all
- (Build a fair and peaceful world)
- Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part
- (We care for the Earth)
Sources of Our Living Tradition
Rev. Kathleen Rolenz said, “Throughout history, we have moved to the rhythms of mystery and wonder, prophecy, wisdom, teachings from ancient and modern sources, and nature herself.” Worshipping in our congregations you may hear a reading or perspective shared from any one of these sources from which our living tradition is drawn:
- 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.
Our Congregation’s History
We hold Sunday services in an historic sanctuary which is one of the loveliest and most inspiring places in Alton. This has been the site of the Alton Unitarian congregation since 1855, when it arranged to buy the site of the former Catholic church (which had been damaged by fire). The original church building was dedicated on October 14, 1855. In 1905, that edifice was torn down and the current sanctuary was built. In 1969, the Religious Education wing was added on the west side of the property. For more on our church history please visit:
A History of First Unitarian Church; Alton, Illinois; 1836 – 1986 by Lottie Forcade
First Unitarian Church of Alton – History Update – 2009
Midwest UU History Vignette: First Unitarian Church, Alton, Illinois
Reverend Dawn Fortune is our interim minister, spiritual leader, and chief of staff. Dawn earned a Master of Divinity degree and a Certificate in Spiritual and Pastoral Care from Andover Newton Theological School in Newton, Mass. Dawn is a gifted storyteller and preacher, working to connect the lofty principles of Unitarian Universalism with practical, accessible application in our daily lives. Dawn is passionate about justice work and transformational spirituality.
How Our Ministry is Made- Governance
Unitarian Universalist churches are run by the people that make up those communities and utilizes the democratic process for major decisions. We have no bishops or popes directing the work of our churches. Therefor, it is important that all members and friends have easy access to information to stay informed on the work of the board and minister. In addition, our congregation along with the other more than 1100 other congregations in the United States and across the world make the decisions about our denomination. This page provides information on leadership decisions and work within our congregation, region, and the world.
To learn more, visit our page on How the Ministry Is Made.