Humanist Society Symbol from the 1950sA Humanist Society Symbol from the 1950s is one of the decorations on pages of our membership book

Slogan: Carrying the flame of Humanism in the UUAA


The Humanist Study Group provides a forum for members to explore and deepen their understanding and application of Humanism. We actively affirm, promote and support Humanism in the UUAA, the wider Unitarian Universalist community and Ann Arbor community.

This mission is a consolidation of the following input:

Who we are:

      An official subgroup or ministry of the UUAA who are interested in or have a humanist philosophy.

Who we serve:

  1. The members of the HSG

  2. The members of the UUAA
    • Adult members and friends of the UUAA
    • Members of the staff and students in the Spiritual Growth and Development Program
  1. Members of the Ann Arbor area community who are humanists or are interested in humanism from a Unitarian Universalist perspective

  2. Humanists in the world community in need of support

What we provide:

 To HSG Members:

  • An opportunity to explore and share in depth knowledge and information about humanism and its inspirational contribution to society.
  • An opportunity to examine and discuss topics related to humanism in the society.
  • Knowledge and information about humanism and Unitarian Universalism.
  • A forum in which participants can speak openly and frankly about any topic of interest to them.

To Members of the UUAA:

  • Knowledge and information about humanist ideas and behavior.
  • History of humanism in Unitarian Universalism in the UUAA and beyond.
  • Advocacy for the visibility, preservation and enhancement of humanism in Sunday Services and the Spiritual Growth and Development Program.
  • Examination of and advocacy for a UUAA culture, programs, policies, processes, and practices consistent with Humanistic principles while acknowledging our human limitations and aspirations.
  • Support and advocacy for the use of transparent inclusive democratic governing and operational policies and practices in UUAA.
  • The dedication to and promotion of actions and programs to recognize and enhance humanism in the UUAA.


To the Ann Arbor Community:

  • A resource for speakers and materials about humanism.
  • A venue for conversations about humanism and Unitarian Universalism.

To the larger UU Community:

  • Support of Humanists who are being unjustly marginalized.

Our goals:

  • We work to build and sustain a pluralistic community where free thinkers can feel safe and supported.
  • We seek to give a voice to marginalized people, groups, and causes, and to humanists, atheists and agnostics through discussion, constructive activism, education, and philanthropy.
  • We support the open sharing of the results of critical thinking and evidence-based understanding of the natural world even when controversial or unpopular.
  • We support building communities using democratic principles and the active pursuit of the separation of religion and government.
  • We seek to use our human capacities of empathy, compassion and rational thinking as the foundation for ethical behavior.

In Summary:

We commit our hearts, minds and muscle to the overarching first, fourth and fifth principles of Unitarian Universalism: the inherent worth and dignity of every person, the responsible search for truth and meaning and the right of conscience, and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large; and in so doing we intend to do our part in creating a better world.



Our congregation's connections to the Humanist Movement go back to the 1920s.  In 1933, congregant Roy Wood Sellars drafted the first version of the Humanist Manifesto. One of the signatories was our minister at the time,  Rev Harold P. Marley. The Humanist Studies Group explores our history of humanism and discusses issues relating to ethics, philosophy, religion (including atheism and agnosticism). Members of the group share books on related topics.


The Humanist Study Group welcomes all members and friends of the UUAA Congregation.  There are meetings for those available during the day on the first and third Thursday afternoons of the month from 2:00 to 4:00 pm and for those who prefer the evening on the second and fourth Monday evenings of the month from 7:00 to 8:30.  The afternoon and evening discussions are loosely coordinated, and some people come to both. Check the white board at the UUAA entry for the room location.

The group is structured to be a place where individuals can share their thoughts and feelings openly without challenge or criticism. The Humanist label of the group means that anything which pertains to human processes of thinking, feeling, or behaving is open for discussion. It is not specifically focused on more general humanist doctrine or advocacy, but these topics do come up for examination.

To get an overview of this group's discussions click this link for lists of topics explored during the 2017-18 yer and 2016-17 year. By exploring concepts and issues of importance to the members, each of us thinks more broadly after our discussions. An implicit goal of the Humanist Study Group is to engage and apply the understandings, insights, and values we gain from our discussions in our lives outside of the group, to become better people.



Links to more information about Humanism

Humanism at UUAA

This congregation played a key role in the development of humanism as a prominent force in 20th century Unitarianism and in the evolution of humanism in the United States. Follow this link to read an excerpt from the history of our congregation that appears in the Program that was prepared to celebrate this congregation's 150th Anniversary.

To read the history of the UUAA Humanist Study Group follow this link.

Read a sermon titled Why Am I a Humanist? delivered by HSG member Terry Madden in January, 2010.


Spotlight on Humanist Books

  • Humanist Voices in Unitarian Universalism, Kendyl L. R. Gibbons and William R. Murry, editors; published in 2017 by Skinner House Books, an imprint of the Unitarian Universalist Association, Boston, MA. Available from this link. This book is being discussed at the fall 2017 meetings of the Humanist Study Group.

  • Regaining Balance: The Evolution of the UUA, by Michael Werner, published in 2013. Available from this link. The Humanist Study Group read this book in 2016.

  • Book List on the topic Spotlight on the New Atheism


Humanist Manifestos

  • Humanist Manifesto I (1933)  One of the people who helped draft this document was Roy Wood Sellars, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Michigan. He was an active friend of UUAA who signed our membership book in 1934. He also was a signer of the second Humanist Manifesto. This manifesto was also signed by the UUAA minister at the time, Harold P. Marley.
  • Humanist Manifesto II (1973)
  • Humanist Manifesto III (2003)


Other information


Humanist organizations


For more information about UUAA's Humanist Study Group send email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .