About BUUF

Our fellowship is a congregation that represents many different walks of life, in our religious backgrounds and also in our occupations, nationalities, education, ages and interests. Yet we have all found community with one another in the Unitarian Universalist tradition.

Today, we are a small yet strong, vital congregation. We are proud of who we are and are keen to grow. Our most cherished and notable quality is our capacity to embody our Unitarian Universalist values especially respecting and upholding the inherent dignity and worth of every person and respecting the differences among people.

We hold in common every person’s right and responsibility to pursue their own spiritual path; we acknowledge that none of us has the corner on Truth, and we enjoy learning what others believe and why they think as they do.

Unitarian Universalist churches and fellowships offer the world an arena in which to seek answers to the questions the human society must ask itself: who are we and how are we to live together?

We can offer this because ours is not a church that gives you a formula for what to believe. We say believe what you will, and do so in the context of respecting the worth and dignity of every person, respecting the interdependence of all life, promoting justice, equality and compassion in human relations and in advocating a goal of world community with peace, liberty and justice for all.

These are some of the values upon which we agree. However our uniqueness does not come from our values, it comes from the way in which we put these values into practice.


If you have an interest in liberal religion, or are looking for a spiritual community, or are curious about the Unitarian Universalist tradition, come visit us and see if we are a good fit for you!

Our History

The Brisbane Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (BUUF) first formed on Easter Sunday 1995, which also happened to be on the 1st April, Fools Day.

This was a fitting day for forming a group focused on exploring the vital life force, the pursuit of justice, and the power of hope combined with a sufficient measure of good humour, inventiveness and joie de vivre. Unitarian Universalists, or UU’s, have a common concern with Social Justice and the Welfare of our Planet.

In the beginning we met in members’ homes. Within a few months, this became impractical at which time we secured the use of the Annerley Community Centre just on the outskirts of inner city Brisbane.

Within 18 months, we outgrew the premises and in April 1997 we moved into the University of Queensland, St Lucia Campus, Chaplaincy Centre in Building 38 where we met for the next seven and a half years. In February 2005, we took up a temporary meeting space in the Annerley Community Bookshop and Neighborhood Centre. From 2007 to late 2008 we were meeting at Ahimsa House in West End and since then we have been meeting at our present location at the Theosophical Society premises in Wickham Street, Spring Hill, Brisbane.

In the early days, we had several American families as BUUF members, each of whom was instrumental in helping build our foundation, developing our children’s program and creating our services. These families have now returned to live in America. Other members have also relocated either to other states in Australia or to other countries. Through all the comings and goings, births and deaths, our congregation size remains consistently around 15-20 members.

While the Sunday service continues to be the focal point of our gathering, the social element of our meetings is an integral part of how we get to know one another, form relationships, support one another, engage in stimulating philosophical or theological discussions and attend to congregational business.

Our most cherished and notable quality is our capacity to embody our Unitarian Universalist values especially respecting and upholding the inherent dignity and worth of every person and respecting the differences among people. We believe in these principles strongly; our regular congregation includes people from many spiritual backgrounds including Buddhists, different Christian faiths, life-long Unitarians, agnostics and atheists. Unsurprisingly, we do not always agree with one another on matters of religion or philosophy, nor in matters of politics, psychology, or social justice.

Nevertheless, we hold in common every persons right and responsibility to pursue their own spiritual path; we acknowledge that none of us has the corner on Truth, and we enjoy learning what others believe and why they think as they do.

Joining our Fellowship

One way we put our values into practice is in the way people become members of our congregations. There is no litmus test for what one must believe. There is no committee to meet with to establish ones worthiness of belonging. This is because the congregation does not decide if the individual is suitable to join them. Rather, it is the individual who decides if the congregation is right for them. This is a simple yet profound difference in establishing membership.

If you decide that this fellowship is for you and your values are not in conflict with ours, you are welcome to join us. We don’t require you to make any creedal confession or belief statement to join, nor is it necessary to revoke your previous faith. Like many of us who have taken this path, you will find that there is an implicit acceptance and openness offered by the congregation. This does not mean that all members will like each other, much less agree with each other in matters of theology or justice. It does mean that the members agree to walk together in their separate and joint journeys of life.

Part of participating in a liberal church is the opportunity to expand our vision, re-examine our prejudices – it is an often unparalleled chance in a human experiment – how tolerant, broad-minded, non-judgmental can we actually be? How much can we love each other even though we disagree? A liberal church offers a place to practice such tolerance and diversity in an atmosphere of trust.

The Brisbane Unitarian Universalist Fellowship has adopted a general UU tradition in receiving members, by signing the membership book. When an individual chooses to join a congregation in a formal way, they simply sign the book – how and when they do this varies among congregations. Some UU congregations have a book permanently, publicly available so that anyone who wishes to can sign at any time. Oftentimes it is located in the lobby or sanctuary. Other congregations acknowledge joining members during the Sunday Service and invite new members to sign the book in a special ceremony. The Brisbane Fellowship has often formally received new members during the annual fellowship retreat as well as acknowledging members during one of the regular Sunday services.

What happens once a person becomes a formal member? From the congregation’s point of view, it means the person now has the right to vote in business meetings. Beyond that, much of what happens depends on the person because commitment to a UU congregation or any other faith community is paradoxically an act of commitment to ones self. It is a commitment to ones one spirituality as well as to the spirituality of others. It is about what we will learn or what we will gain for ourselves and also about what we can teach and what we can share with others that circles back to what we will learn and what we will gain.

Such a commitment sets in motion a path that ultimately leads to a discovery that one’s spiritual journey is not a solitary experience after all. Rather it is a journey that encompasses every person, every animal, every plant one encounters, every experience one has, every lesson one learns and every lesson one shares. It is in joining with others, giving to others, learning with others that we learn most about our deepest, truest selves. It is in moving beyond our own interests that our understanding expands. It is when we become full participants that we gain the deep, connecting, meaningful experiences that we desire.

Life seems to offer us endless paradoxes: It is in giving that we receive. It is in moving beyond ourselves that we find ourselves. It is often in embracing what we most wish to resist that that we find what we most need. It is often in committing to a community that we also commit to ourselves.

It is well to remember that signing a book does not make you a member. The book is merely the outward sign of an inward reality. An inward reality that says I want to be here, I care, I want to serve and be served, to teach and be taught, to love and be loved.

A man named W.H. (Bill) Murray once said, Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness [but] the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no one person could have dreamt would have come their way. 

Marriage Equality

The Brisbane Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, along with other members of the Australian and New Zealand Unitarian Universalist Association (ANZUUA), affirm that we support full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer people (LBGTIQ). This includes the right to marry the person of their choice (including same sex marriage).

This position is directly influenced by the central principle that guides the actions of Unitarian Universalists around the world:  ‘We affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every human being’.

Unitarian Universalists have a long history of acceptance and inclusion in areas that are often controversial in other religious congregations.  In the USA, the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) has since 1970 enacted many resolutions in support of LBGTIQ people to address a variety of equity issues and formalised this in 1987. https://www.uua.org/lgbtq

In 1996, the UUA became the first mainstream denomination in the US to support legally recognized same sex marriage. In Australia and New Zealand Unitarian Universalists endeavor to provide welcoming spiritual communities to LBGQIT people in our fellowships and churches.

Social Justice

Unitarian Universalists are encouraged to use our minds, hearts, and experiences to arrive at answers to the major questions that arise from being human. 

Every human naturally possesses the power to instantiate and sustain positive change. As Unitarian Universalists, we must be committed to the welfare of all people.

It is our responsibility to be aware of conditions in the world and it is in our communities that we are able to make a difference.

Spiritual or mindfulness practice can increase our awareness of the unexpected gifts that fill life with insight and beauty. (Stephen M Shick).

Doing something ourselves

Mahatma Ghandi said ” we must be the change we want to see in the world”. In other words, we are what we do. Sustainable change is easier where we have some ownership of the solution. Real hands and hearts in action make the difference.

Sometimes the scale of problems can induce a sense of paralysis in us. We may think this is the business of Governments or big business sponsorship. Stephen Schick says Nature and history reveal a fundamental paradox. Everything we believe and everything we do is both very insignificant and ultimately crucial. Learning to live with this paradox helps us discover our power to change the world for the better.

Here are some small ideas that each and every one of us can participate in to some extent, and all have the potential for change and positive contribution to social justice.

  • Consider what change we would like to help with and make a plan to be actively involved; If you want an easy start, go to the Volunteer Queensland website, find a cause and give them a hand.
  • Donate to charity. It helps people. Even a little bit helps. Each year BUUF gives a percentage of money we receive to charities. The charities BUUF donated to last year were the Butterfly Foundation, a Nepalese childcare centre supported in a large way by one of our members, and to Open Doors (support for young gay, lesbian and transgender people).  This year BUUF donated to Rosies who provide a food van and work with homeless people in Brisbane, as well as to the Butterfly Foundation.
  • Donate your old phonescomputersglasses etc to organisations that reverse recycle these for people in the developing world or locally. Millions of people can’t see properly to work, don’t have access to computers or knowledge and so on.
  • Buy fairtrade coffee and other fairtrade and ethical products, it helps provide the small scale farmers with a more secure future.
  • Join a social justice organisation like Amnesty International, buy your presents in their online shop (ethical and fairtrade goods).
  • Join and support an aid organisation like Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders) or the Red Cross.
  • You can probably name five American Indian tribes – Mohician, Apache, Sioux etc. Can you name five Australian Aboriginal Nations? Learn the names of some of the nations who cared for Australia for tens of thousands of years, learn something about them and understand and appreciate their culture. Read “Where the Ancestors Walked” by Philip Clarke for a better understanding of this amazing culture.
  • Join one of the ANTaR  campaigns to understand, acknowledge and support Australian Indigenous culture and people, and to speak up against racism. 
  • Start a volunteer day in an area of social justice that you are prepared to devote some time and energy to.

If you need inspiration and sustanance to help you, buy a copy of Be the Change – Poems, Prayers and Meditations for Peacemakers and Justice Seekers by Stephen Shick and read it whenever you need a boost.

UU Involvement with the United Nations and Peace Organisations

Unitarian involvement began with the UN in 1946 when the American Unitarian Association selected Elvira Fradkin as representative to the UN. A dedicated UU United Nations Office was set up to liaise with the UN to inform Unitarians of relevant UN activities and encourage participation. For recent information see: Unitarian Universalist UN Office on Facebook.

The UU movement has very strong links with Amnesty International – William Schultz served as UUA president from 1985 to 1993 and then as executive director of Amnesty International USA from 1994 to 2006.

Our UU symbol of the flaming Chalice commemorates Unitarians and people who were willing to risk all for others in a time of urgent need during the 2nd World War in assisting Eastern Europeans who needed to escape Nazi persecution.

“Peace comes with Justice.”