'Love can bring us together'
"Unitarians can be humanist or theist, Christian or
Hindu, but the actual practice of Unitarianism demands a great deal
of tolerance, continued use of reason, and being true to the call
to "love the hell out of the world"
Unitarianism is an open-minded and individualistic approach to
religion that gives scope for a very wide range of beliefs and
doubts. We are deilghted to kick-off the first in our interview
series with Unitarian Minister Bob Janis-Dillon from
St.Helens who was happy to share his story, his beliefs
and explore the most difficult, as well as the most rewarding,
aspects of his religion....
How long have you followed your religion?
I grew up Unitarian Universalist - very similar to
Unitarian, but the American version.
But I did explore other faiths, and none, when I was in college,
because I didn't want to be complacent in the faith of my
After exploring other faiths, what made you stay a
Unitarianism challenges me to seek the truth in an environment
of people who can be very different from me in their theological
outlook. But we are united in our dedication to support one another
and build a better world. I find the combination of freedom of
belief, and the challenge to test that belief in community and
improve the world, one that greatly appeals to me. It has shaped my
life, and continues to make every day meaningful.
Can anyone be Unitarian?
Yes, theoretically. We welcome a wide variety of
theological belief - including people who identify as Christian,
Jewish, atheist, humanist, and pagan, among others. We are openly
welcoming to people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, and
transgender. Though we are non-creedal - we don't have a belief
test for membership! But people have to be devoted to the free
search from truth and meaning, as well as being actively respectful
of people who are very different from they are, supportive of
congregational and their own spiritual growth, and active in making
the world a better place. Most Unitarians will tell you that it's
actually quite challenging, though very rewarding!
How has being Unitarian impacted your life?
I find that trying to serve people different from me, and
being true to myself, brings me closer to God everyday. God is
larger and more sublime than any categories I could put on Her. I'm
continually amazed by what God's love is capable of.
What are the most difficult and rewarding aspects of
The most difficult aspect is probably the continuing call
towards progress, and making the world a better place, when
sometimes it feels like the world is getting worse (though I'm not
convinced that is actually true.)
The most rewarding aspect is when I'm out there, trying to improve
the world with other people of many different faith backgrounds. I
learn again how wonderful people are, and the power love has to
I think a lot of people think that Unitarians can believe
whatever we want, and so it's "easy" to be a Unitarian. It's true
that Unitarians can be humanist or theist, Christian or Hindu, but
the actual practice of Unitarianism demands a great deal of
tolerance, continued use of reason, and being true to the call to
"love the hell out of the world". Admittedly, we don't always do it
well - but it's not easy!
Has there ever been a point when you have questioned
Sure. My theology and view of God has changed a fair amount over
the years, even as I've remained Unitarian. Many time it has been
hard to square any view of God with the amount of needless
suffering in the world.
If you could give one piece of advice to a large group
of people, what would it be?
Be true to the most generous love in your heart - the
love that's risky, that's challenging, the love where you're scared
you might fail but you still feel called to give it a
What's the main message you want someone to take away from
"We do not have to think alike to love alike", as someone
once said. Love can bring us together, even when we differ on quite
Where can someone find out more information about your
If you would like further information, please