Unitarian Universalist Lexicon

Refer to this post for the method.

After building Lexicons (most frequently used words) for the NGO world (4970 projects), 3300 community stories from Kenya, and the Millennium Development Goals experts, I decided it would be fun to see how my church community compares: Unitarian Universalists.

Why Unitarians?

I picked UUs because I could find over 100 sermons online, whereas Mennonites (the other group that preaches social justice religiously) don’t have much. Quakers would be interesting, but having no ordained ministers, they have very little text to mine in the way of sermons.

If people find this interesting, and ask, I can build a word list that reflects the common phrases and attitudes of other church communities and compare them to stories about the people whom they aim to help.

Download the 2000 most frequently used words from 100 Unitarian Univeralist sermons: UU_sermon_keywords.txt


  • The top 10 Unitarian Universalist sermon words read like a phrase: Unitarian life, know, time, world may see just work, community love. (Details below)
  • Unlike community stories, UUs talk about Spirit, sense, questions, and being creative, in order to find truth, religion. (For me this is a reasonable representation of many sermons I’ve heard.)
  • Community stories focus on real life needs and events. They use words like spread,  problems, killed, government, village, hospital, and animals, whereas UUs rarely do.
  • The overlap: The words life, community, time, work, need, people, and good are important words in UU sermons and in Kenyan community stories.


Top 20 words used in sermons, versus the relative rank (1 to 2000) same word is used in community stories. (Score of -2000 means it it doesn’t appear. Score of -7 for Life (UU rank of #2) means it appears 7 places lower in stories (#9 overall in this case):

UU word Relative rank in stories
‘unitarian’ -2000
‘life’ -7
‘know’ -47
‘time’ -15
‘world’ -77
‘may’ -130
‘see’ -133
‘just’ -63
‘work’ -25
‘community’ 4
‘love’ -226
‘way’ -69
‘live’ -54
‘story’ -236
‘want’ -133
‘come’ -19
‘people’ 16
‘things’ -81
‘need’ -17
‘fellowship’ -2000

Words that are most important to UU but not at all in stories. The number is the rank that each word has among UU sermons:

‘unitarian’ 1
‘fellowship’ 20
‘religious’ 29
‘universalist’ 45
‘congregation’ 58
‘spirit’ 77
‘sense’ 100
‘creative’ 105
‘truth’ 106
‘religion’ 109
‘questions’ 118
‘worth’ 119
‘stage’ 127
‘stewardship’ 133

The converse: Words most important to community storytellers in Kenya, but rarely used in UU sermons. The number of the rank in UU sermons among the 2000 most used words:

‘spread’ 1789
‘number’ 1778
‘problems’ 1714
‘various’ 1899
‘killed’ 1972
‘teachers’ 1934
‘major’ 1864
‘improve’ 1933
‘talents’ 1940
‘hospital’ 1854
‘village’ 1770
‘animals’ 1941
‘government’ 1831

Words both groups use about the same amount:

(word, UU sermon rank, and relative difference in rank among storytellers)

‘looking’ 304 -8
‘life’ 2 -7
‘former’ 1401 -6
‘affect’ 914 -1
‘going’ 54 1
‘continue’ 226 2
‘community’ 10 4
‘take’ 35 4
‘friends’ 282 4
‘gone’ 488 4
‘back’ 70 5
‘name’ 183 7
‘affects’ 1474 7
‘go’ 40 8
‘good’ 24 9
‘care’ 68 11
‘days’ 225 11
‘daily’ 545 11
‘majority’ 1053 12
‘capable’ 1074 12

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