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.
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
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 identity and lived experience.
adopted August, 2013 – revised January 2020
Timeline of the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara
|1872-1876||Meeting in a private residence|
|1877||Rev. George Young forms Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara congregation|
|1890||Stone church built at the corner of Arlington Avenue and State Street|
|1921-1928||Dr. Lewis C. Carson, minister|
|1925||Earthquake destroys stone church building|
|1929-1932||Rev. Edward P. Daniels, minister|
|1930||Present Spanish-style church building completed|
|1933-1958||Rev. Berkeley Blake, minister|
|1949||Sarah Foot School opens (Starr King Parent Child Workshop)|
|1957||Blake Building completed and dedicated to Rev. Berkeley Blake|
|1959-1977||Rev. John Alexie “Lex” Crane, minister|
|1962||Jefferson Building added|
|1978-1990||Rev. Tony Friess Perrino, minister|
|1979-1982||Rev. Maren Hansen, associate minister|
|1982-1986||Rev. Frank Robertson, minister of religious education|
|1987-1994||Rev. Carol Edwards, minister of religious education|
|1990-1991||Rev. Jack Mendelsohn, interim minister|
|1991-1999||Rev. Sarah Moores Campbell, senior minister|
|1999-2001||Rev. James E. Grant, interim minister|
|2001-2008||Rev. Kenneth Collier, minister|
|2008-2009||Rev. Joy Atkinson, interim minister|
|2009-2014||Rev. Aaron McEmrys, minister|
|2011-2015||Rev. Julia Hamilton, associate minister|
|2014-2015||Rev. Lee Bond-Upson, interim minister|
|2015-||Rev. Julia Hamilton, lead minister|
|2015-2018||Rev. Caitlin Cotter Coillberg, assistant minister|