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Unitarians Often Struggle with How to Describe the Heart of Their Tradition

Rev. Angela Herrera-Atencion

By Jon Sievert

What kind of religion is Unitarian Universalism? Is it a religion? And if so, when did it start? The answers are more complex, and more interesting, than even long-time Unitarians may realize. The Rev Angela Herrera addresses the question at this Sunday’s Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (UUFSMA) service.

Many people think of religion as a set of beliefs shared by a certain group of people. But that is a distinctly Western (i.e. European) perspective. Meanwhile, many Unitarians are unsure of how to speak of congregational life together. Do we hold “worship services” or “gatherings?” Are there “sermons” or “talks” or “presentations?” When asked what our “religion” is about, members often find it easier to say what we don’t believe than to describe the heart of our tradition. Rev Herrera will delve into some of these questions and trace Unitarian and Universalist history all the way back to its ultimate origin.

Herrera, the senior minister at the 850-member First Unitarian Church in Albuquerque, has served there since 2010. She holds a master of divinity degree from Harvard Divinity School, and a bachelor’s in Religion and Philosophy from Marylhurst University. Herrera grew up in a blue-collar family in a conservative small town in Oregon, which has shaped her liberal religious perspective.

She is committed to creating a big-hearted, open-minded faith community that serves people from many backgrounds and walks of life. Before entering parish ministry, she worked as a birth doula and then as a student chaplain in a men’s maximum-security prison as well as an inner-city hospital. Recently, she and her congregation have taken an active role in welcoming the thousands of asylum seekers who’ve crossed the southern US border. She and her congregation also have protested US immigration procedures that include incarcerating children. Her sermon “Asylum” was featured in the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee’s Guest At Your Table program for 2018–19.

Herrera is the author of Reaching for the Sun, a collection of meditations published by Skinner House Books. She was also on the editorial team for Lifting Our Voices: Readings in the Living Tradition. She served as a member of the Faith and Reproductive Justice Leadership Institute at the Center for American Progress in Washington, DC, from 2014 to 2016.

She currently serves as a teaching pastor for the Meadville Lombard Theological School. She and her husband, Carlos, have two grown children. The family speaks Spanish and English and celebrates its Colombian and American cultures. Family members enjoy spending time hiking and backpacking in the wilderness of New Mexico.

For more information about the UUFSMA, including our Sunday morning Children’s religious education program, social action outreach, weekly discussion groups, social activities, and Care Team, join us any Sunday at 10:30am at the Hotel La Aldea or check out our website at


Unitarian Universalist Service

“What Kind of Religion is Unitarian Universalism?”

Rev Angela Herrera

Sun, Jun 30, 10:30am

Hotel La Aldea

Ancha de San Antonio 15, Centro


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