Who is welcome at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno?
We welcome people of all ages, races, ethnicities, nations of origin, religious beliefs, political beliefs, differing abilities, sexual orientations, gender identities, incomes, educational backgrounds, immigration statuses, family structures, or ideas of doubt, faith, and spirituality. All are welcome and all are found at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno.
What do Unitarian Universalists believe?
There are Seven Principles of the Unitarian Universalist Faith:
We believe in:
- The inherent worth and dignity of every person
- Justice, equity and compassion in human relations
- Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregation
- A free and responsible search for truth and meaning
- The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large
- The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all
- Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
What if I don’t believe in God? What if I do believe in God?
Our congregation is made up of many different spiritual beliefs. Some folks believe in a God or Higher Power, and some do not. Some individuals identify themselves as Christian, while most do not. Some are agnostic or Humanist. Others find inspiration in such traditions as Pagan/Earth-Centered, Buddhism or Judaism. Some of us are still trying to work out what exactly we believe. Our church is a great place to do just that! What we all share in common is our Unitarian Universalist morals and values, and our shared journey to nurture our spirit and help heal our world.
How should I dress for Sunday services?
Wear whatever you like. Some people dress up while others prefer casual clothing. Children also wear whatever they are comfortable in. Jeans are just fine, if that is what you prefer. We’re just glad you are coming to visit—we are a church community, not a fashion show.
Where do I park?
We have a paved parking lot on the east side of the church. Some spaces are specifically reserved for visitors. Others are reserved for those with disabilities and some are designated for carpools (with two or more riders from different households). Unpaved parking is available on the north side of the parking lot. In addition, congregants are welcome to park in the lot for the Buddhist Family Dharma Center, located immediately east of our parking lot.
Are you handicapped accessible?
The entrances are handicap and wheelchair accessible. There are no steps to negotiate.
Large Font Orders of Service are available also upon request to an usher.
We are happy to supply assistive listening devices. Please ask an usher upon arriving.
When do people arrive and what should I expect?
Usually people arrive about ten minutes before the services, often gathering in the breezeway or the foyer to exchange greetings. We have a Visitor Table in our foyer. As a first time guest, you will be welcomed and offered a name tag (if you wish) and a clipboard with a visitor card to fill out (if you wish). You can then take a seat in our sanctuary.
After each service there is a social hour. Coffee, tea, juice, and snacks are served and folks can engage in conversation. If you feel comfortable, we’d love for you to join us for social hour. You may also wish to join a member of the Visitor and New Member Team at the table right outside the sanctuary to ask any questions you may have about Unitarian Universalism and our church.
What does a typical worship service look like?
We hope that the service will be meaningful and deepen your spiritual life. Most Sunday services focus on a specific theme or topic, which will be explored more fully in the minister’s sermon. The musical selections sung by the choir or special musicians, the hymns we all sing together, readings, prayers, and opening and closing words are all chosen for their thematic relevance to the sermon.
A typical service might look like this:
- Welcome by a youth or child from the congregation
- Music to help us center and calm ourselves for the service
- Lighting the chalice (the symbol of Unitarian Universalism)
- Congregational hymn singing
- A special message or activity for the kids
- Meditative reading(s)
- Sharing of joys and sorrows
- A time for prayer and silent reflection
- Musical interlude
- Congregational hymn singing
- Closing words and minister’s blessing
Any given service may include music and readings from a variety of faith traditions. You also might hear from humanist teachings that remind us to heed the guidance of reason and science. Contemporary poetry or other readings from many sources will touch your heart and real life stories will inspire you.
Who will help me feel welcome?
Hopefully, everyone at church will share a smile with you and let you know we are so glad you came to the service. Our Member Services Coordinator is our staff person who helps new folks feel welcome, answers any questions you might have, and will be there to make sure you are comfortable and have a good experience on your first visit. Our Minister will also be very happy to meet you and talk with you. Volunteers at our Visitor Table are also here to help.
What kind of music do you have at the service?
We have many different kinds of music at our services, from traditional “church music” to jazz, gospel, music of other countries, blues, country, contemporary, and even a Broadway show tune from time to time. We really try to offer a wide range of music in our services. The hymns we sing as a congregation also vary in style. Some are traditional, like “Amazing Grace.” Many are more contemporary in feel. We also do some simple spiritual chanting, which draws you into a meditative mood.
What do you offer my kids?
We love our kids — they are central to the life and programs of our congregation.
Our professional childcare staff cares for infants through two years old in our nursery. Childcare is provided in our nursery, which is in the back of the house that’s at the front of our lot, from 10:15 am -12:00 noon. Any of our welcoming staff or congregants can direct you to the nursery if you are unsure where it is. Our professional childcare staff will be waiting to welcome you and your child. If it helps you to feel more comfortable, you are welcome to stay with your child a few times to help them get used to the environment. Children are also always welcome to stay with you in the sanctuary during the service.
We offer full children’s faith development and religious exploration classes. Children from Preschool (3 & 4 years old) age through Grade 8 stay with their families in the sanctuary, participating in the first fifteen minutes of the service. High school students start in their classroom, which is the garage of the house in the front of the campus. Before the sermon, Preschool through 8th graders leave to join their classes, most of which are located in the portable buildings behind the sanctuary, except for junior high, which meets in the Office Conference Room in the office building, the house at the front of the lot. Classes are taught by trained volunteers, and the children are grouped by age.
Classes are full of activities, stories, and experiences that explore spirituality, religion, and Unitarian Universalist values. Full information about what each class is doing is available here.
If your children prefer to stay with you throughout the service, they certainly may. There are crayons and activity packets available for these youngsters that are available in the foyer of the sanctuary. If you can’t find one, just ask one of the ushers. There are two tables in the back of the sanctuary where many children sit together and color.
If your child is especially fussy, you are welcome to listen to the sermon in the foyer if it makes you more comfortable, but we don’t expect absolute quiet from children.
We have many family focused events and programs, from nature hikes to potlucks to game nights. You and your children will have a blast here at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno.
For more information about our children’s programming, please contact Katie Hymans, our Director of Lifespan Religious Exploration, at (559) 322-6146 ext. 12, or send her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How do I explain Unitarian Universalism to my child?
The seven Unitarian Universalist principles have been adapted for children:
- Each and every person is important.
- All people should be treated fairly and kindly.
- We should encourage one another and learn together.
- Everyone must be free to search for what is true and right about life.
- All persons should have a say about things that concern them.
- We work for a peaceful, fair and free world.
- We care for our planet, the home we share with all living things.
I’m an adult and I’d like to develop my spirituality and faith. What kind of programs do you offer for adults?
We offer many different programs, workshops, and classes to develop your spiritual and intellectual life. Our minister and other skilled teachers facilitate a number of programs for adults. Recent offerings have included:
Love and Death: An exploration of how we find meaning and joy in life, in the face of our inevitable death.
Unitarian Universalist History: Exploring our living faith’s 2000 year journey and how we have come to our current configuration.
Unitarian Universalist Theologies: Some of us believe in God, others do not. This class explores the breadth of our beliefs and explores the key religious thinkers in our 2000-year history.
What Jesus Really Said: Using the language of Aramaic, the original language of the Bible, we seek to understand how the words of Jesus have been altered and changed through time from their original intentions.
Islam 101: What is Islam? What do Muslims believe? What are the challenges and issues facing Muslims in today’s climate?
A full day Spiritual Retreat offers a chance to relax, meditate, reflect and renew your spirit.
Our weekly Buddhist Meditation group offers you an opportunity to learn about the teachings of the Buddha while practicing gentle meditation.
…. and there are so many other opportunities to explore and deepen your spiritual life.
Check our website or newsletter for a full list of upcoming opportunities for you to explore your spiritual life with us. You may also contact Katie Hymans, Director of Lifespan Religious Exploration, at (559) 322-6146 ext. 12, or send her an email at email@example.com.
How Can I Learn More About Unitarian Universalism?
Reverend Tim Kutzmark facilitates a class for newcomers several times a year. “Introduction to Unitarian Universalism” classes are remarkably lively, enlightening, and great fun for all participants! The class is offered on either Saturday morning (with breakfast included) or Sunday afternoon (with lunch included), and childcare is always provided.
Contact our Member Services Coordinator Patty Bennett at (559) 322-6146 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
What Are Chalice Circles?
Chalice Circle is a program of connection and community, fostering the deepening of spirituality and self-discovery. Chalice Circle groups meet once a month and each group has 8-10 members facilitated by a trained leader. The groups are a great way to make new friends and strengthen connections. A Chalice Circle is a safe place to explore spiritual questions through everyday life experiences. You can join a Chalice Circle anytime during the church year. Contact our Director of Lifespan Religious Exploration Katie Hymans at (559) 322-6146 or email email@example.com for more information.
I care about social justice and want to help make the world a better place—will you help me do this?
Unitarian Universalists have a long history of involvement in social justice causes. Abolition of slavery, women’s rights, health care, marriage equality, immigration reform, environmental justice, ethical eating, and education for the poor have been some of the movements on which Unitarians and Universalists have actively and courageously campaigned. Although you may find the members of our church walking many spiritual paths, we all believe that “deeds are more important than creeds.” Through our social justice initiatives we involve ourselves in the local community and beyond, finding many ways to create a better and more just world.
How do I find out how to get involved in some of the Social Action or Social Justice activities you offer?
Look at our website, or read our newsletter, or contact our Member Services Coordinator Patty Bennett at (559) 322-6146 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We are all ready and eager to have you join with us to help make the world a more just and gentle place.