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As a visitor, you likely have some questions. Here is a brief overview of who we are, what we believe, and what you can expect from us…
Who attends the Unitarian Universalist Society of Greater Springfield (UUSGS)?
UUSGS is an intergenerational congregation of about 250 adults and 100 children located in Springfield, Massachusetts. We strive for a deeply meaningful, transforming liberal religious experience, finding hope, beauty, and inspiration in our worship.
Our religious community thrives on diversity. Many of our members were raised in other religious traditions and bring with them a variety of spiritual experiences. Our members include people who are single and married, with or without children. Our doors are open to all who wish to join us. We are a certified UUA Welcoming Congregation, meaning that we welcome and affirm people who are bisexual, gay, lesbian and transgender. We are in the process of becoming an anti-racist congregation with a team of members actively engaged in helping us challenge racial barriers in our larger society and within our congregation. We are also considering seeking Green Sanctuary status, meaning that we are taking steps to be in right relationship with our natural environment. Our facilities are handicapped accessible and our Sanctuary is equipped for those who require additional amplification. Free professional childcare is offered at most congregational events.
All of this is to say that we strive for our community to be a place of welcome – but not just once, when you first come and visit. Life changes… and we aspire to meet those changes together. Ministry isn’t about repeating outgrown forms and ideas; ministry is about helping people to live authentically and intentionally in the here and now. We hope you find our congregation to be a place of inspiration and hope, a place that helps individuals and families find and keep their balance.
What are Sunday worship services like?
In Fall, Winter and Spring, our worship services begin at 9:15 and 11AM every Sunday, with few exceptions. During Summer, there is often one service each Sunday at 10:30AM. There are also a few occasions throughout the year when we consolidate our services. Usually this is done in order to accommodate performers or to intentionally gather the entire congregation at once. Updated service times and specific information about each service is available on the congregational calendar on this site. Following services, you are invited to hang out in Friendship Hall for refreshments and fellowship.
Our worship services are intended to appeal to head and heart alike. Messages, readings and music are chosen carefully so as to be relevant and timely. Some aspects of our liturgy will be familiar to people who have been to church before. Other elements are unique. We believe it is possible to be reverent and intentional without being formal and stiff. We try to blend spirited celebration with quiet contemplation and the need we observe in many people for renewal and de-stressing. And, whenever possible, we include something artistic… a special musical performance, choral music, drama or dance.
Visiting with kids? We’re delighted!
We encourage families with children to attend either service. Children are invited to begin every service with their families in the sanctuary. Following a special Time for All Ages during the service – often a dramatized story – children are dismissed with their teachers to Children’s Chapel and age-appropriate classes.
On your first visit, you may choose to worship together as a family. Children and youth are always welcome in our Sanctuary. Drop-in nursery care is available for little ones, ages 6 months (and sitting up) to 3 years. Be sure to visit our Welcome Table in Friendship Hall for more information about our Ministry with Children and Youth.
Some parents would like for their children to experience Sunday School on their first visit. If this is you, we ask that a parent consider staying with each visiting child in their classroom for the duration of their first Sunday’s Religious Education sessions. If you call or email prior to your first visit, the Director of Religious Education, Darcie Farber, (Darcie@UUSpringfield.org) can prepare a welcome and visiting plan specific to your child(ren)’s ages. We are also happy to set your child up with a ‘buddy’, another child in the program who can help them to get acquainted. Please be in touch with Darcie about how we can be most welcoming to you and your family.
Here are some helpful tips for your first Sunday at UUSGS with children:
- As soon as you arrive, please meet up with helpful staff and volunteers at the Welcome Table in the Friendship Hall. They will guide you to the right place for you and your children and answer any questions you may have.
- This is not required… but plan on staying in the classroom with your child during the entire Sunday School session. Junior High youth may attend on their own, provided a parent meets them at the classroom door at the end of the class.
- Be sure to pick up a “New Family Welcome Packet” with information about our Ministry with Children and Youth.
- Please know that we have a Safe Congregation policy in place, limiting enrollment in each class and ensuring a safe and supportive environment for children. Maintaining this policy is a team effort and something we take seriously.
What do Unitarian Universalists believe?
The UU Society of Greater Springfield is a member congregation of the Unitarian Universalist Association, which includes over a thousand congregations throughout the United States and Canada. With historical roots in the Jewish and Christian traditions, 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 are a “non-creedal” religion, meaning we do not ask anyone to subscribe to a creed or a prescribed belief. This means that individual Unitarian Universalists believe often different things: some believe in a personal God and find great meaning and support in prayer; others pursue a non-theist path, using Buddhist meditation practices or yoga or some other discipline to deepen their spiritual lives. Humanists among us sometimes describe themselves as atheists or agnostics. UU Christians follow the path taught by Jesus of Nazareth, and those who arrive among us from a Jewish background retain their Jewish identity while whole-heartedly embracing their new religious home. For more information on our denomination, please visit the Unitarian Universalist Association’s website.
Perhaps the best articulation of UU faith today came from the 16th century Hungarian minister Francis David, who said: “We need not think alike to love alike.”
How can one religious community hold so many people with different beliefs?
We thrive on our religious differences… because we believe that in the search for spiritual wisdom and maturity there is no such thing as a final answer. No one tradition (including our own!) has a monopoly on truth. We keep learning and deepening our understanding all our lives. We therefore strive to create within our walls a lively and engaged religious home that supports the spiritual journeys of our members and friends through: meaningful worship, quality religious education classes for adults and children and youth, small group ministry opportunities, exploration of a variety of spiritual disciplines, and socially engaged ministry in the wider world.
What’s going on at UUSGS and how can I get connected?
We offer several opportunities to connect with others. In fact, while we are one community, we are also at the same time a community of communities. The wide umbrella of the congregation supports many smaller fellowship groups where members gather to share similar interests or a desire for deeper fellowship. For example, spiritual practice offerings like – mindfulness and tai chi – provide small-group, practice-based ways to connect on a spiritual level beyond Sunday services. Social Justice Task Forces allow our members to live out their liberal religious values in the world by engaging in social justice work, service, education, and advocacy to the larger community. These programs provide a catalyst for positive personal change as well as change in our local community and the world. Innovative lifelong religious education programs for children, youth, and adults, all provide opportunities for spiritual development. The Music Ministry is integrated into the life of the church through choirs, concerts, and community outreach. UUSGS also hosts Soulful Supper, a mid-week gathering for fellowship and fun every Wednesday evening. Supper is prepared by rotating teams of volunteer cooks and is served from 5:30 to 6:30PM. Following the meal are meetings, classes and rehearsals. Free childcare is available for registered children. Opportunities for fellowship occur all evening long and everyone is welcome.
Please check out our congregational calendar for updated information about upcoming worship services and programming!