Polity is a general term for the form of church organization adopted by a religious tradition. Unitarian Universalists operate under a particular form of polity called congregational polity, defined as “the rights and responsibilities of each properly organized congregation to make its own decisions about its own affairs without recourse to any higher human authority.”ga_banner

Put more simply, polity can be understood as the way we are, as Unitarian Universalists, and why we are that way. Or, in the words of Paul Harrison, an expert on religious studies, “Polity is faith put into practice.”

Peter Raible wrote these words in his introduction to a course of study of Unitarian Universalist polity: Polity is not theology, but belief issues affect church organization. Polity is not history, but how we govern our churches grows out of a historical context. Polity is not “how to do ministry,” but clerics cannot work effectively without understanding the strictures of governance under which they labor.

— Excerpted from the UUA Tapestry of Faith Lifespan Curriculum


Unitarian Universalist Association – The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) is the central organization for the Unitarian Universalist (UU) religious movement in the United States. Read more here.

Unitarian Universalist Service Association – The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUSC) advances human rights through grassroots collaboration. In more than a dozen countries throughout the world, UUSC fosters social justice and works toward a world free from oppression. UUSC’s innovative approaches and measurable impact — in promoting economic justice, bolstering environmental justice, and protecting rights at risk — are grounded in the belief that all people have inherent power, dignity, and rights.  Read more here.