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 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
1885 USSB incorporated
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

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