Frequently Asked Questions

Who Are Unitarian Universalists?

Unitarian Universalism is a liberal religion born of the Jewish  and Christian traditions.  We believe that personal experience, conscience and reason should be the final authorities in religion.  In the end  religious authority lies not in a book or person or institution, but in  ourselves.   

As Unitarian Universalists, we foster the Unitarian Universalist Principles.  We encourage each individual to determine his or her own creed and standard of theological belief. Toward those purposes, we are  committed to creating a loving religious community through worship,  study, service and fellowship while honoring diversity and respecting the inherent  worth and dignity of each individual. We strive to render enlightened  service to the various communities of which we are a part. We respect the  interdependent web of all living things.   

How Did the Movement Come to Have Such a Long Name? 

In North America, Unitarianism and Universalism developed  separately. Universalist congregations began to be established in the  1770s. Other congregations, many established earlier, began to take the Unitarian  name in the 1820s. Over the decades the two groups converged in their  liberal emphasis and style, and in 1961 they merged to become the Unitarian  Universalist Association.

What do UUs Believe About God? 

Some Unitarian Universalists are nontheists and do not find  language about God useful. The faith of other Unitarian Universalists in  God may be profound, though among these, too, talk of God may be restrained.  Why?   

The word God is much abused. Far too often, the word seems to  refer to a kind of granddaddy in the sky or a super magician. To avoid  confusion, many Unitarian Universalists are more apt to speak of “reverence for  life” (in the words of Albert Schweitzer, a Unitarian), the spirit of  love or truth, the holy, or the gracious. Many also prefer such language  because it is inclusive; it is used with integrity by theist and  nontheist members.   

What About The Bible? 

We do not hold the Bible, or any other account of human  experience, to be either an infallible guide or the exclusive source of  truth. Much biblical material is mythical or legendary. Not that it should be  discarded for that reason! Rather, it should be treasured for what it  is. We believe that we should read the Bible as we read other books (or the newspaper) with imagination and a critical eye.   We also respect the sacred literature of other religions.  Contemporary works of science, art, and social commentary are valued as  well. We hold, in the words of an old liberal formulation, that “revelation is not  sealed.” Unitarian Universalists aspire to truth as wide as the world-we  look to find truth anywhere, universally.

What Are Your Church Services Like? 

At First Unitarian Universalist Church of Stockton, our services  typically consist of a chalice lighting, several readings, a  youth-focused story, a time for people to share their joys and concerns, a choral anthem,  time of silence, several hymns, and a sermon. The format is very  similar to more mainline Protestant churches, though the materials and sources that  we draw from tend to be broader. We also tend to have intergenerational  services (where our youth stay in the sanctuary for the entire service) about  once per month that are a bit more free form and higher energy.

What Do People Wear To This Church? 

You may dress up or dress casually. People wear whatever makes  them feel comfortable on the occasion. For Sunday services, adults wear  everything from suits to jeans or shorts. Children are encouraged to wear  clothes appropriate to the activities in which they will be engaged.

What Do Children Do During the Services? 

After the chalice lighting, an opening hymn, the Words of  Affirmation, and a youth-focused story, many of the children generally  go to the Cottage for age-specific Religious Education classes and activities.

May My Child Stay With Me During The Service? 

Of course, we just ask that you be considerate of others if your child becomes restless.

Is Childcare Available? 

Yes, free childcare is available during all services.

Will I Be Welcomed in This Congregation? 

Yes, everyone is welcome, whatever your age, ethnicity, race,  sex, affectional or sexual orientation, physical challenge, religion,  business connections, or political affiliation.

Do Members of the Congregation Have Varied Beliefs? 

Yes, diversity is common among Unitarian Universalists, and this  church contains people with all manner of beliefs. We are united by our belief in the importance of accepting one another and encouraging  spiritual development, guided by freedom, reason and conscience.

What is Required To Become A Member Of This Church? 

Click here for information about becoming a member.

How Can I Get Involved At The Church? 

There are many ways to start getting connected. Here are a few suggestions:   

  • When you arrive on Sunday, say hello to our membership coordinator, Mary Bullard, or one of our friendly greeters.
  • Fill out a visitor card and add yourself to our newsletter mailing list.
  • Try out a class or a group that interests you.
  • Visit our Education & Fellowship programs and Events to find out more about what is happening this month.
  • Contact our minister,  Rev. Robert Klein. He would be glad to answer your questions  and offer you assistance, especially in times of distress.

Additional Information 

For more information about Unitarian Universalist beliefs, the Unitarian Universalist Association website has more frequently asked questions and answers.