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Purpose and Aims

I found this on the way to looking for something else: a paragraph from an early constitution of the “Ethical Union” of the first Ethical Societies in the United States, referred to in a book published in 1896 as being from “a few years ago.”

The general aim of the Ethical Movement as represented by this Union is to elevate the moral life of its members and that of the community; and it cordially welcomes to its fellowship all persons who sympathize with this aim, whatever may be their theological or philosophical opinions.

The word “moral” is not one we tend to use today — perhaps the Moral Majority (which some of us believe was neither) ruined the term for a generation or two.  But in the context of the Ethical Movement, “moral” meant then, and means now, living in relationship in ways that respect and draw out the worth of every human being.

Apart from the slightly stilted Victorian language of the paragraph, it’s not a bad summary of what we aim to be today as well, here at the Northern Virginia Ethical Society.

As we move towards our Opening Sunday of the season on September 12th after our summer break from Sunday meetings, I think that this aim bears repeating.  In our 21st century way, we can implement what was there said in 19th century language: help our members and the community to live more ethically, bringing out the best in ourselves and others, and cordially welcome into full participation in our community, anyone who feels themselves also drawn to that aim — recognizing that this common purpose is more important than whether we agree or disagree, believe or disbelieve, on some philosophical or theological matter.

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