If you have never been to a Unitarian Universalist service before, you might be wondering what to expect.
The UU Church in Grass Valley is an attractive building on South Church St, a converted funeral parlor. There are two entrances – the main door is up a few steps from the paved front patio, and the accessible entrance is by the side door on Walsh St with the canopy. Both lead into a foyer where you will be greeted warmly, given a name tag and a printed order of service. The sanctuary is off the foyer, and comfortably seats about 100 people.
Some people will be sitting quietly in the sanctuary waiting for the service to start, enjoying the piano music which will be playing from about ten minutes before the service. Others will be standing and talking. The start of the service is signaled by the ringing of a chime, when everyone is asked to observe silence.
The Unitarian Universalist Community of the Mountains is a Welcoming Congregation, which means it has consciously declared itself inclusive of the LGBTQI community. Please bring the person you love and feel free to express your love. Dress is casual.
Although there is always openness to experimentation, most services follow a fairly familiar pattern, with the singing of two or three songs, some time for spoken or silent prayer/meditation, a story, live music which could be classical, jazz, folk or modern, a reading or two which could come from any source (the scriptures of a major faith tradition or poetry or an excerpt of philosophy or anything which helps to illuminate the theme for the day), and a sermon. There are usually two people leading the service – a member of the congregation acting as the Worship Associate who introduces the service and assists with the readings and other duties, and the preacher who is usually the minister but might be a guest speaker or a member of the congregation. There is some ritual, but it is quite informal and does not require any prior familiarity. The printed order of service will help you follow what is going on.
Given that within the congregation at Grass Valley there is broad theological diversity, the purpose of the service is not to promulgate any one way of understanding life but to explore life through many different lenses. On any one Sunday there might be references to the liberal Christian tradition, which is our primary historical root, to humanist thought, the wisdom of earth-centered faith traditions, or to ancient or modern philosophy. In all cases, care is taken to use inclusive language.
The assumption underlying all services is not that what is preached from the pulpit is The Truth which may not be questioned, but an honest attempt by the person leading the service to interpret an aspect of life through the prism of their own experience as well as through the wisdom of others. It is the role of the person in the pew to use the service in the enrichment of their own faith to whatever extent is appropriate and relevant.
Over the summer, UUCM offers a single Sunday service at 10:00am. The program for children and youth is held upstairs during the service. If you have children, please inform one of the greeters when you arrive and they will be glad to introduce you to the youth leaders. Dress is generally casual and the service is easily accessible to those in wheelchairs. Our Religious Education classes for children and youth meet on the second level of our building, which is not wheelchair accessible.
After each service we enjoy refreshments and conversation. In fine weather we go outside to the front patio to take advantage of the Californian sunshine; when it is cold or raining we gather in a room at the rear of the building. This social time is an opportunity for those from each service to meet and greet each other.
We look forward to welcoming you to a service at Unitarian Universalist Community of the Mountains.