Who We Are

The Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara was founded in 1872 as a beacon of progressive religion in Santa Barbara. Today, we are a thriving community of all ages that engages the mind, heart and spirit. We strive to live with integrity, nurture wonder, and inspire action.

We gather as a community on Sunday for worship services, and we connect during our social hour between services with a cup of coffee, tea and good conversation. But we are not just a Sunday-morning community! We have regular events all throughout the week, so take a look at our calendar of events. We work for justice in the world with many outreach and volunteer opportunities, and we have smaller groups that meet where people can form deep connections with one another. We have classes for children as well as adults, and our campus is used by many groups in the wider community.

If you are seeking a religion that speaks to your mind as well as your heart, a spiritual community with doors wide open to the world, you are welcome here.

Community. Courage. Love. Diversity. Generosity. Joy. 

These are the cornerstones of our congregation.


What is Unitarian Universalism?
  • Although our historical roots are in the Christian and Jewish traditions, we have become a faith that welcomes insights from many sources, including world religions and philosophies as well as the arts and sciences.
  • Unitarian Universalism is a liberal religion — that is, a religion that keeps an open mind to the religious questions people have struggled with in all times and places.
  • We believe that personal experience, conscience and reason should be the final authorities in religion, and that in the end, religious authority is not found in a book or person, but within ourselves.
  • We are a “non-creedal” religion: we do not ask anyone to subscribe to a creed or statement of faith.
  • However, we do strongly affirm and promote seven ethical statements that constitute our Unitarian Universalist Principles.

What do Unitarian Universalists believe?

Meet our ministers

Our Mission Statement

The Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara, a loving community of seekers:

  • Living with integrity
  • Nurturing wonder
  • Inspiring action

adopted by the congregation, November 2013

Our Ends

Living with integrity, we:
  • 1. Support each other in life and life’s transitions with loving care, joy, celebration and gratitude.
  • 2. Care for the earth and its rich web of life for current and future generations.
Nurturing wonder, we:
  • 3. Experience the transcendent that opens us to deep connection and life’s mystery.
  • 4. Cultivate spiritual practices and engage in lifelong learning, utilizing our hearts and minds.
Inspiring action, we:
  • 5. Shift the larger culture toward justice and compassion through bold individual and congregational endeavors.
  • 6. Welcome and connect with people across differences of ethnicity, class, sexual identity, religion, politics and education

adopted August, 2013 – revised December 2016

Timeline of the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara

1872 to 1876      Meeting in a home
1877                  Rev. George Young formed USSB congregation
1885                  USSB Incorporated
1890                  Stone Church built at the corner of Arlington and State Streets
1921 to 1928       Dr. Lewis C. Carson, Minister
1925                  Earthquake destroyed the stone church
1929                  Rev. Edward P. Daniels
1930                  Present Spanish Style Church built
1933-1958          Rev. Berkeley Blake, Minister
1949                  Sarah Foot School started— (Starr King Parent Child Workshop)
1957                  Blake building built and dedicated to Berkeley Blake
1959 to 1977       Rev. J. Alexie Crane, Minister
1962                   Jefferson Building added
1978 to 1990       Rev. Tony Friess Perrino
1979 to 1982       Rev. Maren Hansen, Associate Minister
1982 to 1986       Rev. Frank Robertson, Minister of Religious Education
1987 to 1994       Rev. Carol Edwards, Minister of Religious Education
1990 to 1991       Rev. Jack Mendelsohn
1991 to 1999       Rev. Sara Moores Campbell, Senior Minister
1995 to 1999       Rev. Carol Powers, Associate Minister
1999 to 2001       Rev. James E. Grant, Interim Minister
2001 to 2008       Rev. Kenneth Collier, Parish Minister
2008 to 2009       Rev. Joy Atkinson, Interim Minister
2009 to 2014       Rev. Aaron McEmrys, Parish Minister
2011 to 2015       Rev. Julia Hamilton, Associate Minister
2014 to 2015       Rev. Lee Bond-Upson, Interim Senior Minister
2015               Rev. Julia Hamilton, Lead Minister
2015               Rev. Caitlin Cotter, Assistant Minister


What's New

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  • Nov 2 Thursday
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  • Jan 21 Sunday
    “Religions and Other Worldviews” Begins January 21

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  • Oct 1 Sunday
    DACA Congressional Postcard-writing Event

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  • Sep 14 Thursday
    September is National Recovery Month

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Read All the Latest News


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