|COVID-19 UPDATE: The Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara is complying with all Santa Barbara County and California State regulations regarding Covid-19. Our ability to have in-person events will depend largely on the current colored tier our county is in. You can always review the Santa Barbara County Public Health website to see the current status for indoor and outdoor events. While we’ve had to temporarily pause all in-person gatherings, we have transformed many of our weekly events and happenings to virtual gatherings. See our online events calendar here to see what’s happening each day, and go here to sign up for our weekly emails. Thank you for your understanding.|
An Invitation to Visitors
Welcome to our community of seekers. We hope you join us for a Sunday service or other USSB activity soon! Visiting a new congregation can feel adventurous and we want you to feel welcome and comfortable when you arrive. Here are the answer some common questions from visitors. If you’d like to become a member or want a more personal welcome or have any other questions about community life, please feel free to email our office or call us at (805) 965-4583 x 224.
Frequently Asked Questions
What do Unitarian Universalists believe?
We are a community that welcomes a diversity of thought and belief, but here are a few beliefs and values that unite us.
When are your services, and what are they like?
Right now, all our services are Sunday at 10:00 a.m. and are online.
When we meet in person, we hold two services each Sunday morning at 9:15 and 11:15 a.m. from September through May, and from June to August we have one Sunday service at 10:00 a.m.
No matter where we meet, our services include music, readings, reflections, and a sermon, and from time to time services may be very different and creative in form! Our ministers lead most services, but about once a month our services are hosted by members of the congregation or an invited speaker.
Between services we have Middle Hour, when everyone gathers in the courtyard for conversation with coffee, tea, and refreshments. Because our services are online-only right now, we host a virtual coffee hour on Zoom for casual conversation after the service is over.
Can I bring my kids when you’re open again?
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 just to stay long enough for your kids (and you!) to feel comfortable before leaving to join 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 offices during the week before to help us make their experience a good one.
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.
I hear you’re welcoming to members of the LGBTQ+ community. Is that true?
It’s true. This congregation has a longstanding history of being an inclusive religious home for people who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer. We are a welcoming congregation.
Will you take up a collection?
Yes, we take an offering as a part of our Sunday service, and a portion of what is collected goes toward our monthly Outreach Offering to support a partner organization or special project. The rest of the money collected goes toward the congregation’s operating budget. You may place a contribution in the basket if you like, but there is no obligation to do so!
What do people wear when they come to services?
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, as our kids activities can be pretty hands-on.
Is anyone going to pressure me?
Absolutely not! Many people prefer to visit quietly 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 share your contact information with anyone else, and no one will call you unless you ask them to.
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.
What’s the flaming chalice?
The flaming chalice is the symbol of Unitarian Universalism, and it is usually lit at the start of every service. Learn more about the history of the flaming chalice here.
Can I talk with a minister?
Definitely. Please introduce yourself to Rev. Julia when you see her before or after services. You can reach our ministers and staff by email or by phone. Click here for our minister and staff directory.
How will I know if this congregation is right for me?
Come check us out! We are confident that you will find yourself 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.
How do I become a USSB member?
We encourage all our visitors to attend Sunday services to understand our community. Then, when you feel ready to deepen your connection, you can attend some membership gatherings to learn more. To explore becoming a member of USSB, visit our membership page, emaill our office, or call us at (805) 965-4583 x 224.
Besides Sunday service, what else is going on there?
We have an active and dynamic community life. From small connection groups to weekly meditation to Arts and Crafts and social justice work, we have a full range of activities, events, programs and classes available to people of all ages, including families and young adults. For more information, visit our Get Involved Online page, email our office, or call us at (805) 965-4583 x 224.
Where are you? Where will I park? Can I get there by bus?
We are located at 1535 Santa Barbara Street on the corner of Arrellaga and right across the street 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. We have a drop-off zone right in front on Santa Barbara Street and Arrellaga Street and a few accessible spaces in La Paz alley.
Fill out our visitor form
You can click here to fill out our Online Connection Card and we’ll get in touch with you!