New to USSB?
If you are a visitor to the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara and want to know more about us and Unitarian Universalism, we offer a few ways to get connected:
fill in your r-mail address and we’ll get in touch to make an appointment to talk with you.
Visit our Becoming a Member page.
Contact Maureen Claffey, Director of Congregational Life
965-4583 x 221; firstname.lastname@example.org
An Invitation to Visitors
We hope that looking over our web site will encourage you to join us for a service sometime soon! Visiting a new congregation can feel pretty adventurous to many people, and we want you to feel welcome and comfortable when you arrive. Here are some questions people often ask:
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What do Unitarian Universalists believe?
We are a community that welcomes a diversity of thought and belief, but there are a few principles and purposes that unite us.
Q: Where are you? Where do I park? Can I get there by bus?
We are at 1535 Santa Barbara St. on the corner of Arrellaga and right across from Alice Keck Park Memorial Gardens. You can find us on the map or consult a bus schedule. Most people find parking on the street nearby. There is a drop-off zone right in front on Santa Barbara Street and a few accessible spaces in La Paz alley.
Q: When are your services, and what are they like?
During most of the year we hold two services each Sunday morning at 9:15 and 11:15 a.m.; during the summer we hold one service at 10:00 a.m. Our services usually include music, readings, reflections, and a sermon – although from time to time services may be very different and creative in form! Our ministers lead most services, and about once a month our services are hosted by members of the congregation or an invited speaker.
Our Religious Education program happens during the first service at 9:15, and there is childcare at both services for kids 4 and under. Usually, the children start in the sanctuary with the adults for the first 15 minutes of the service
Between services we have Middle Hour, when we gather in the courtyard for coffee, tea, and refreshments.
Q: Can I bring my kids?
Yes! Religious education for children and youth is an important part of our community. Children’s programs are age-appropriate, lively, and sometimes messy, so our kids usually come to services in their play clothes. When you arrive, we can help you find out what our kids have planned for that day. Babies and toddlers have professional caregivers, and teams of trained volunteers lead older children’s programs. You are welcome to observe classes if you want to or stay long enough for them (and you!) to feel comfortable before joining the main service. If your kids would prefer to stay with you, they are welcome to sit with you in the main service. Our youth group for high school students meets on Sunday evenings and the youth are always welcome in our regular Sunday services.
If your children have special needs, contact our office during the week before to help us make their experience a good one.
Q. Do you welcome people of different faiths?
Absolutely. Many of our members were raised in other faith traditions, including couples in which the two individuals have different religious backgrounds. Unitarian Universalists believe that truth can be found in many places. Our services include wisdom drawn from many religions as well as from secular sources.
Q: Will you take up a collection?
Every Sunday, we take an offering as a part of our service. Each month, a portion of what is collected goes toward our Outreach Offering to support a partner organization or special project. The rest of the money and checks placed in the offering baskets go to the congregation’s budget. You may place a contribution in the basket if you like, but you are not expected to do so!
Q: What do people wear?
The clothes people wear are as diverse as our members – wear what makes you feel comfortable! Some people will be a little more formal, some will dress casually, and some will be wearing their jeans and t-shirts. Kids can also come as they are; unless they love dressing up, play clothes are fine. Our kids activities can be pretty hands-on!
Q: Is anyone going to pressure me?
Absolutely not! Many people prefer to visit quietly a few times before they get more involved. When you are ready, stop by our welcome table where we can answer your questions or help you find out what programs or events you might be interested in. Greeters, ushers, coffee hosts, and staff can also be of assistance—we all enjoy meeting our visitors.
During each service, we invite visitors to wave hello if they feel comfortable doing so, and there is usually time for introducing yourself to a few people sitting nearby. If you sign our guest book, we will send you our monthly newsletter, The Kaleidoscope, by email. We will not give out your contact information and no one will call you unless you ask them to.
Q: I hear you’re accepting of gays, lesbians and all sexual orientations and expressions. Is it true?
It’s true. This congregation has a longstanding history of being an inclusive religious home for people who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender. We are a Welcoming Congregation.
Q: Is your building and worship service accessible?
Most of our campus is wheelchair accessible. We have a ramp into the main sanctuary from the courtyard, and our other buildings are on ground level. We have a t-coil hearing loop installed that is compatible with most hearing aids and there are headsets available for any others who need hearing assistance. If you have concerns about accessibility, please contact our office with any questions.
Q: What’s the flaming chalice?
The flaming chalice is the symbol of Unitarian Universalism, and it usually lit at the start of every service. Find out more about the history of the flaming chalice.
Q. Can I talk with a minister? The Director of Religious Education?
Definitely. You can reach our ministers and other staff by email or by phone. Please introduce yourself to Rev. Lee and Rev. Julia when you see them before or after services. There are also members and other staff ready to welcome you and answer any of your questions. Click here for our staff directory.
Q. How do I know if this congregation is right for me?
Come check us out! We are confident that you will find yourselves in the midst of a vibrant and loving community, among people committed to living their values with integrity and joy. Whenever you are looking for a religious home, try to visit at least three to five times. That will give you a good feel for congregational life, the variety of worship services, and the different opportunities and upcoming programs that you might be interested in. Then trust your feelings. We hope we are a good fit for you.