Sunday Styles

The cathedrals, mosques, and synagogues of the Old World still occupy the most hallowed ground of ecclesiastical architecture, but a rather unorthodox American sect can lay claim to the best in modern sacred space design: the Unitarian Universalists.

When the Unitarian Church in Westport, Connecticut, asked Victor Lundy to design its first church building, he imagined a pair of hands in prayer. Pressed together they represent submission, but when pulled apart in a pose of questioning, they let the light through. Parishioners arrived at their finished church in 1965 to find it capped by twin roofs that rise on either side of the altar and reach toward the sky in parallel pinnacles that never meet. Sunlight illuminates the sanctuary through a well-placed skylight. The spires, Lundy said, represent the "open question" at the heart of Unitarian Universalism, a denomination that has shed the dogma of its Christian roots in favor of an ecumenical search for meaning without ever espousing a singular truth.

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Drew Himmelstein
Drew Himmelstein is a writer living in San Francisco who reports frequently about religion.


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