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Frequently Asked Questions About the First Unitarian Church of San José

What time are services?

Our main service is 11:00 a.m. to about 12:15 pm. Our Spanish-language Alabanzas meets at 10:15 a.m. for singing, mediation and reflection in a mixture of Spanish and English. Back to FAQ

What are Sunday services like?

Our church’s Sunday services typically include the following: music, readings, lighting the chalice, hymn singing, a story for all ages, a period of silent meditation, a sermon, and, usually twice a month, a time for the community to share joys and concerns. Take a look at the Unitarian Universalist Association visitor's guide for more information about worship.

Here is a typical Order of Service. We suggest that you come at least three times to get some idea of what our congregation is like. Back to FAQ

What should my children and I wear to this church?

Some people dress up, while some dress casually. You may dress in whatever makes you feel at ease. Many members of our congregation wear comfortable, casual clothing rather than formal “Sunday best.” Children are encouraged to dress appropriately for Religious Education activities which might involve physical movement and art projects. Back to FAQ

How do I meet other people? How do I get involved?

Attend a service. Stay for refreshments and conversation following the service, and stop by the Visitors' Table, just inside the social hall. There you can get on the newsletter mailing list and the all-church email, which will tell you about the various activities coming up. Some of the best ways to meet people are to join a Small Group Ministry group, volunteer for a committee, join the choir, participate in the quarterly “Service is Our Prayer” work day or to take an adult-education class. You are welcome to join in any activity that interests you. Back to FAQ

Are all people welcome in this congregation?

We welcome all people who share our values, regardless of race, age, gender identity or sexual orientation, ethnicity, cultural heritage, social status, or physical ability. Back to FAQ

Will I fit in?

As mentioned above, we welcome all people who share our values, regardless of race, age, gender identity or sexual orientation, ethnicity, cultural heritage, social status, or physical ability. One fun way to explore whether your values and theology are in harmony with Unitarian Universalism is to take the "Belief-O-Matic" quiz on Beliefnet.com. Back to FAQ

Am I welcome if I have physical limitations?

The building is fully accessible. There is a ramp on the right side of the building, an accessible bathroom on the same level as the sanctuary and social hall, accessible stalls in each restroom on the ground floor, and an elevator. We also have assisted-listening devices and large-print hymnals. Back to FAQ

Are gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people welcome in this congregation? Are there GLBT members?

Our congregation is a Welcoming Congregation for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) persons. We have many active members of our community who are openly gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. Some come just for Sunday services. Some serve on committees and as congregational leaders. All are integrated into our community. Our Welcoming Congregation Committee plans activities for the whole congregation. Back to FAQ

Are there any people of color in the congregation?

Yes, and we welcome members of all races and ethnic backgrounds. We also have an active social justice group and a long history of supporting the rights of all people. Back to FAQ

Is there child care or Sunday school during church?

At the 11 a.m. service, infant and toddler care for children up to kindergarten age is available in the nursery. Generally, young children go to the nursery before the service begins.

Children and youth (grades K-12) stay in our service for about 20 minutes, until they are "sung out." Most Sundays, age-appropriate classes for 4-year-olds through eighth grade are held downstairs. Senior high youth meets upstairs in the Youth Room. Information about Sunday Religious Education classes, including room numbers and teachers, are in the Sunday order of service. Parents are welcome to help their children find the appropriate classes, and then return to the service.

Religious education classes last until 12:30, somewhat after the service ends. Parents of children through 2nd grade are asked to go downstairs to pick up their children at that time.

There is a curriculum for each age group during the school year (September through May), and multi-age activities during the summer months. Back to FAQ

What do children learn in your Religious Education program?

The goal of our religious education program for children and youth is to awaken their individual sense of the religious, the mystical, the spiritual in life, to affirm and encourage their questions, to explore diverse sources of religious, spiritual and philosophical understanding, and to encourage their creativity and their compassion on their life journeys. Back to FAQ

If my children don’t want to go to the nursery or Religious Education, can they stay with me during the service?

Your child is always welcome to stay with you during the worship service. Back to FAQ

Are there other church-related activities for children and youth?

Children in grades K-5 may join the Chalice Club. There are also active groups for middle-schoolers and high-school students. Each summer there is a junior high backpack trip and a senior high camping trip. Our Whole Lives (OWL) is a sexuality education program offered for grades K-1 and grades 7-9. The Coming of Age program, a yearlong rite-of-passage program for grades 8-10, alternates years with OWL. Back to FAQ

How does Unitarian Universalism differ from other churches I may have attended?

In Unitarian Universalism, we share values and principles but not dogma or creeds. We encourage questioning, and we draw wisdom from a wide range of sources. We are more concerned with how we are to live this life than with what occurs after death. Individual Unitarian Universalists hold a wide range of beliefs about what happens when we die, but we agree on many principles about how we are to live. Like our Unitarian ancestors who believed in the “oneness of God,” we sense a unity in all existence, and this sense of connectedness transforms the way we conduct our daily lives. Like our Universalist ancestors who believed that “all are saved,” we recognize the inherent worth and dignity of every person, and this sense of respect and equity transforms our relationships with people both near and far. For more information about our faith, you might enjoy looking at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashua's list of 100 UU Questions or reading the book A Chosen Faith, by John A. Buehrens and F. Forrester Church (Beacon Press, 1998). Back to FAQ

Does your congregation have diverse beliefs?

Yes, indeed. In our congregation we have humanists, theists, pagans, Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, atheists, agnostics, pantheists, and more. Although individual Unitarian Universalists have varied beliefs about everything from scripture to rituals to God, we uphold shared principles and come together for spiritual development guided by freedom, reason, and conscience. Back to FAQ

Do you have any symbol like the cross or menorah?

Today, the flaming chalice is the official symbol of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee and the Unitarian Universalist Association. Officially or unofficially, it functions as a logo for hundreds of congregations and has become a focal point for worship. Back to FAQ

What’s the mission of your church?

The First Unitarian Church of San José is an open and inclusive community committed to promoting the values and principles of Unitarian Universalism in the Santa Clara Valley. As individuals and in community, we seek to deepen our understanding of Unitarian Universalist principles and embody them in our own lives, that in bold and loving ways we can become agents for spiritual growth, healing, social justice, compassion, and joy. We will live out the goals of the church through our commitments to meaningful worship, ritual and celebration, to providing opportunities for religious education, growth, service, and fun for all ages, to fostering the process of becoming a diverse and multicultural congregation, and to dedicating ourselves to service that contributes to justice in our local community and the world. Back to FAQ

What kinds of activities does the church offer?

Here is a listing of some of the activities you are invited to participate in:

Back to FAQ

What are the six round tablets on either side of the chancel?

These six roundels provide a graphic representation of the six source traditions of Unitarian Universalism. Back to FAQ

What is the pattern on the carpet in the center of your round sanctuary?

This is a labyrinth, which is intended for meditative walking. Based on the medieval labyrinth in Chartres Cathedral, it was designed by one of our members who cut down the number of circuits in the Chartres labyrinth so it would fit into our building. The Labyrinth Guild opens the labyrinth to the public every weekday lunch hour and after church on Sunday.Back to FAQ

How is the church supported financially?

The financial support of the First Unitarian Church of San José comes primarily from the generosity of its members. Other sources include Sunday collections, building rental and fundraising events. Our congregation pays directly for staff salaries and benefits, building maintenance and renovation, and program expenses. Members are asked annually for a written financial commitment—an annual pledge—which is the basis for planning our annual operating budget. Back to FAQ

How do I join the church?

After attending services, getting to know the people, and participating in various activities at the First Unitarian Church, you may decide that you have found the spiritual home you are seeking here. To join the church, make an appointment to speak with one of the ministers about your intention to join and about what it means to be a member of this spiritual cooperative. You can then become an official member by signing the membership book, and you will be invited to participate in an Ingathering Ceremony during a regular Sunday service. Back to FAQ

What do I do if I have other questions?

Email or phone the church office at (408) 292-3858. Back to FAQ


Part of our work as a religious community is to create a place, a safe place, where we can come to know each other deeply.

We do this … by listening and by sharing.

We do it by opening our hearts.

- Rev. Peter Morales