Unitarian Universalist Congregation
of the South Jersey Shore

Newcomer's Questions

Can I just "show up" for a service or Sunday school if I have never been to UUCSJS before?

Sure. We have visitors "checking us out" all the time. You will be greeted at the door, and asked to put on a "Hello My Name is..." nametag. We hope you'll stay for the social hour following the service and help yourself to coffee/tea and goodies, so our members can say hello and get to know something about you. In addition, those who request it can receive our newsletter for 3 months.

Is there childcare/Sunday School during the service?

Usually, the service begins with the children sitting with their parents. Then we have the kids circulate through the congregation to collect our food bank offerings, followed by a children's moment or story. After this, the children exit to their Religious Education classes. Shy ones sometimes remain behind with mom or dad (but after they hear what they're missing, they're usually out the door with the rest!). Childcare for younger children is always available.

If my child doesn't separate well, can she or he stay with me in the service?

Your child is always welcome to stay with you during the worship service. In fact, some of the adults get sad at the children leaving for their classes and will be happy to see your little one stay!

What should I, and my children, wear?

We are an informal group of people. Wear what feels comfortable to you. On any given Sunday, depending on the time of year or weather, you may see business casual, jeans, shorts, summery dresses, two-piece suits, ties (ah, admittedly those are few and far between), flip flops, moccasins, hiking boots... we even had someone show up in a wetsuit once. The children should be dressed comfortably, for play and arts & crafts.

Are there any people of color or disabled people in this congregation?

We have people of different cultures and colors, and different ages and abilities. Our meeting place is handicapped accessible, and we have large-print hymnals available.

Are there gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people in this congregation? Are they welcome?

We are a "Welcoming Congregation", which in the UUA means we have gone through a set of workshops and educational exercises that focus on the GLBT community, how it feels to be a member of a marginalized segment of society, and what it means to feel "welcomed". After you get to know us, you'll certainly become aware of who in our congregation identifies him or herself as such.

Are there people in the congregation who believe in Jesus, Zen, Wicca, neo-paganism, Buddhism, humanism, or are atheists?

Unitarian Universalists trust that individuals are capable of developing their own theology on the basis of their own life experience, diligent questioning, and participation in discussion and study with others in community. There is no set creed that one must adopt to become a Unitarian Universalist. Historically, Unitarian Universalism developed within the Christian tradition, but it has long since become more inclusive. We recognize timeless wisdom from all the world's great religions, as well as that of thoughtful people of our own time. Our services are oriented to serve all of these diverse spiritual areas.

What goes on during the Sunday service?

Our services vary from week to week, depending on whether it is led by our minister, a lay leader, or a guest speaker. However, a generalized outline is as follows. There is a welcoming greeting by a lay leader, then music, possibly followed by a reading. The children circulate through the congregation to collect offerings for the Community Food Bank, the Coalition Against Rape and Abuse, and the animal shelter, usually followed by a children's story or dialogue. The children depart to go to their education classes, and the congregation may sing a hymn with the choir, or the choir may sing alone. One of our occasional, and treasured, parts of the service is the sharing of Joys and Sorrows, where members of the congregation may share what's going on in their lives. There is an offering ("pass the plate"), and then the main topic or sermon. The service concludes with more singing and music, and in the case of a guest speaker, there may be time reserved for questions and answers. Finally, there is time for socializing, coffee, and committee meetings.

How can I get involved?

Come to our worship services on Sunday, and then stay for some social time and coffee! Let us know your particular interests and talents, and we’ll do our best to help you connect with others.

Here are some other ways to get involved: