Sanctuary interior with people sitting in pews
Photo by Sally Armstrong

On the surface, our service looks much like a typical church service, but if you are new to Unitarian Universalism, you will find it to be a very different experience. In keeping with our seven principles, readings and sermons may draw heavily on multiple religious sources, be they Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Christian or Native American. Many sermons will touch on distinctly humanistic themes and the idea that religious authority lies not in a book or person or institution, but in ourselves. What you won’t hear is a creed or statement of beliefs to which we all adhere.

Our services always begin with the lighting of the chalice, and we often recite our affirmationMusic is always part of the service, whether it comes from our Adult and Choirs or frequent guest performers.

Youth and choir sing and hold signs (Hope, Love, Peace) while Paula Gills plays guitar
Children and Adult Choir join for a Multigenerational Service…photo by Dave Armstrong

Typically, one or two readings set the stage for a sermon by Rev. Joan Javier-Duval, a guest minister, or a lay member of the congregation.  After the service, just about everyone goes to Vestry for Coffee Hour.

Some other important services or parts of services include:

Candles of Joy and Concern – On many Sundays, the minister invites us to come forward, light a candle, introduce ourselves, and speak briefly about any joys or concerns that we wish to share with the congregation.

Special Sundays – Certain Sunday mornings have special significance for us. These include:

  • Ingathering – We gather to begin a new church year on the first Sunday after Labor Day. The Ingathering includes a UU ritual known as the water ceremony, where we bring water collected from places of note, spiritual or otherwise, and mix it with the waters brought by others.
  • Religious and cultural holidays – On Sundays around the time of many Jewish, Christian and Pagan holy days  or other important cultural holidays, our services frequently incorporate elements of the traditional observance or themes related to the holiday.
  • Coming of Age – The culmination of the traditional Unitarian Universalist rite of passage of eighth-graders into adulthood.
  • Flower Communion – The last Sunday before summer season, where we celebrate a uniquely Unitarian Universalist form of communion. We bring flowers from our yard or some other favorite spot, and we go home with someone else’s flowers.