Who is welcome at the Unitarian Univeralist Church of Reading?
We welcome people of all ages, races, political beliefs, national origins, religious beliefs, differing abilities, sexual orientations, and gender identity, as well as those with differing abilities or disabilities.
What do Unitarian Universalists believe?
There are Seven Principles of the Unitarian Universalist Faith:
We believe in:
- The inherent worth and dignity of every person
- Justice, equity and compassion in human relations
- Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregation
- A free and responsible search for truth and meaning
- The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large
- The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all
- Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
What if I don’t believe in God?What if I do believe in God?
Our congregation is made up of many different spiritual beliefs. Some folks believe in a God or Higher Power, and some do not. Some individuals identify themselves as Christian, while most do not. Some are agnostic or Humanist. Others find inspiration in such traditions as Pagan/Earth-Centered, Buddhism or Judaism. Some of us are still trying to work out what exactly we believe. Our church is a great place to do just that! What we all share in common is our Unitarian Universalist morals and values, and our shared journey to nurture our spirit and help heal our world.
How should I dress for Sunday services?
Wear whatever you like. Some people dress up while others prefer casual clothing. Children also wear whatever they are comfortable in. Jeans are just fine, if that is what you are most comfortable in. We’re just glad you are coming to visit—we are a church community not a fashion show.
Where do I park?
There are parking spaces in the lot between the church and Loring House, including a few marked “Handicapped Only. ” This lot fills up quickly. Street-side parking is permitted on Summer Avenue and on Woburn Street, just a short walk to the church.
The main entrances, one on Summer Avenue and the other on Woburn Street, are handicap and wheelchair accessible. There are no steps to negotiate.
Large Font Orders of Service are available at the Woburn Street entrance and also upon request to an usher. Our ushers wear special purple nametags that say “usher”.
We are happy to supply assistive listening devices. Please ask an usher upon arriving.
When do people arrive and what should I expect?
Usually people arrive about ten minutes before the services, often gathering in the atrium to exchange greetings. We have a welcome table in our atrium. As a first time guest, you will be welcomed and asked to fill out a visitor card (if you wish) while a nametag is made for you (if you wish). You can then take a seat in our sanctuary. After each service there is a social hour in Fellowship Hall where coffee, tea, juice and cookies are served and folks can engage in conversation. If you feel comfortable, we’d love for you to join us for social hour, but please do not feel pressured.
What does a typical worship service look like?
We hope that the service will be meaningful and deepen your spiritual life. Most Sunday services focus on a specific theme or topic, which will be explored more fully in the minister’s sermon. The musical selections sung by the choir or special musicians, the hymns we all sing together, readings, prayers, and opening and closing words are all chosen for their thematic relevance to the sermon.
A typical service might look like this:
- Welcome by a youth or child from the congregation
- Music to help us center and calm ourselves for the service
- Lighting the chalice (the symbol of Unitarian Universalism)
- Congregational hymn singing
- A special message or activity for the kids (at 9:15 a. m. service only)
- Meditative reading(s)
- Sharing of joys and sorrows
- A time for prayer and silent reflection
- Musical Interlude
- Congregational hymn singing
- Closing words and minister’s blessing
Any given service may include music and readings from a variety of faith traditions. You also might hear from humanist teachings that remind us to heed the guidance of reason and science. Contemporary poetry or other readings from many sources will touch your heart and real life stories will inspire you. We also offer a chance for you to light a silent candle during the service to mark important moments in your life or specific cares or concerns you are holding in your heart.
Who will help me feel welcome?
Hopefully, everyone at church will share a smile with you and let you know we are so glad you came to the service. Our Member Services Coordinator is our staff person who helps new folks feel welcome, answers any questions you might have, and will be there to make sure you are comfortable and have a good experience on your first visit. Our Minister and our Intern Minister will also be very happy to meet you and talk with you. Volunteers at our Welcome Table are also here to help.
Should I come to the 9:15 AM or 11:00 AM service?
The choice is entirely yours!Both services offer meaningful, enriching worship. Our children’s classes for grades K-7 are offered at the 9:15am only, so families with kids usually attend to the earlier service. Early risers also may feel drawn to the 9:15am service because it fits the tempo of their lives.
Worship goers who enjoy a more leisurely Sunday morning may prefer the 11:00am service. Both the 9:15am and 11:00am service have similar themes and sermons, but the musical offerings are sometimes different. The earlier service tends to be infused with more energy, and the later service is often more meditative. There are a few times during the year when the services are very different from one another. For those occurrences, we announce the special nature of each service far in advance.
What kind of music do you have at the service?
We have many different kinds of music at our services, from traditional “church music” to jazz, gospel, music of other countries, blues, country, contemporary, and even a Broadway show tune from time to time. We really try to offer a wide range of music in our services. The hymns we sing as a congregation also vary in style. Some are traditional, like “Amazing Grace. ”Many are more contemporary in feel. We also do some simple spiritual chanting, which draws you into a meditative mood.
What do you offer my kids?
We love our kids — they are central to the life and programs of our congregation.
Our professional childcare staff cares for infants through pre-kindergarten. Childcare is provided for our 9:15am worship service in Sawyer House (the bright yellow house right next door to the church) from 8:45am through 10:30am. Any of our welcoming staff or congregants can direct you to Sawyer House if you are unsure where it is. Our professional childcare staff will be waiting to welcome you and your child.
Our 9:15am service offers full children’s faith development and exploration classes. Children from Kindergarten age through Grade 6 stay with their families in the sanctuary, participating in the first fifteen minutes of the service. Before the sermon, they leave to join their classes in Loring House next door to the church. Classes are taught by trained volunteers and the children are grouped by age.
Classes are full of activities, stories, and experiences that explore spirituality, religion, and Unitarian Universalist values. Our 7th graders have a very exciting program called Neighboring Faiths where they spend time both on campus and visiting area churches, mosques and places of spirituality or worship in order to learn about other religious traditions. Those in our 8th and 9th graders take part in a two-year Coming of Age program. These years begin with sequenced programs that explore the sources of Unitarian Universalist values and spirituality, personal identity and peer relationships, and a culminating rite of passage year. Teens participate in the Senior High Young Program (SHYP) which meets most Sunday evenings for sharing, planning, worship, and social justice initiatives.
If your children prefer to stay with you throughout the service, they certainly may. There are crayons and activity packets available for these youngsters. Just ask one of the ushers.
Additionally, we have a quiet area where restless children may play while you listen to the service without feeling you are disturbing others. Sit on the comfortable chairs in our foyer facing Woburn Street. We are just happy to have you with us.
We have many family focused events and programs, from nature hikes to pot lucks to game nights. You and your children will have a blast here at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Reading.
For more information about our children’s programming, please contact Anne Principe, our Director of Faith Development at (617) 721-1547 ext. 108 or by click here to send email to Anne Principe.
How do I explain Unitarian Universalism to my child?
The seven Unitarian Universalist beliefs have been adapted for children:
- Each and every person is important.
- All people should be treated fairly and kindly.
- We should encourage one another and learn together.
- Everyone must be free to search for what is true and right about life.
- All persons should have a say about things that concern them.
- We work for a peaceful, fair and free world.
- We care for our planet, the home we share with all living things.
I’m an adult and I’d like to develop my spirituality and faith. What kind of programs do you offer for adults?
We offer many different programs, workshops and classes to develop your spiritual and intellectual life. Our minister and other skilled teachers facilitate a number of programs for adults. Recent offerings have included:
Love and Death: An exploration of how we find meaning and joy in life, in the face of our inevitable death.
Claiming Meaning in the Second Half of Your Life: A fun workshop exploring career and personal possibilities for folks entering a new chapter of their life.
Stress Management for Busy People: Come learn proven techniques to quiet your racing mind, let go of the tension you hold in your body, and feel a bit lighter and more peaceful.
Unitarian Universalist Theologies: Some of us believe in God, others do not. This class explores the breadth of our beliefs, and explores the key religious thinkers in our 2000-year history.
Abraham: Father of Three Faiths: Explored the stories and meaning of Abraham in the Islamic, Christian and Jewish traditions, while also discussing the current tensions between Israel and Palestine. How can our shared heritage bring peace into the world?
An Introduction to Islam: What is Islam? Should I be afraid of Muslims?What do they actually believe?
A full day Spiritual Retreat offers a chance to relax, meditate, reflect and renew your spirit.
Our weekly Buddhist Meditation group, led by an ordained Buddhist priest, offers you an opportunity to learn about the teachings of the Buddha while practicing gentle meditation.
Our new Men’s Spirituality Group gathers monthly to explore what it means to be a man and a spiritual being. Our Mom’s Group offers many different opportunities to connect with other mothers in the congregation for friendship and spiritual support.
…. and there are so many other opportunities to explore and deepen your spiritual life.
Check our website or newsletter for a full list of upcoming opportunities for you to explore your spiritual life with us. You may also contact Rosemary Fiori, our administrator, in the church office for more information (781) 944-0494 or click here to send email to our church administrator.
How Can I Learn More About Unitarian Universalism?
Reverend Tim Kutzmark facilitates a class for newcomers four times a year. “Unitarian Universalism Basics, An Introduction to Our Faith” classes are remarkably lively, enlightening and great fun for all participants! We even offer it on Saturday mornings with breakfast and childcare provided, so parents with kids can attend! Contact our Member Services Coordinator at (781) 944-0494 ext. 103 or click here to send email to the Member Services Coordinator, for more information.
What Are Chalice Circles?
Chalice Circle is a program of connection and community, fostering the deepening of spirituality and self-discovery. Chalice Circle groups meet twice a month and each group has 8-10 members facilitated by a trained leader. The groups are a great way to make new friends and strengthen connections. A Chalice Circle is a safe place to explore spiritual questions through everyday life experiences. Groups meet in member’s homes or at the church, and there is a Teleconference Call Chalice Circle. The Teleconference group discussion takes place once a month by telephone and is designed for people who may have difficulty getting out to a gathering. You can join a Chalice Circle anytime during the church year. Contact our Member Services Coordinator at (781) 944-0494 ext. 103 or click here to send our Member Services Coordinator email.
I care about social justice and want to help make the world a better place—will you help me do this?
Unitarian Universalists have a long history of involvement in social justice causes. Abolition of slavery, women’s rights, health care, marriage equality, immigration reform, environmental justice, ethical eating, and education for the poor have been some of the movements on which Unitarians and Universalists have actively and courageously campaigned. Although you may find the members of our church walking many spiritual paths, we all believe that “deeds are more important than creeds.” Through our social justice initiatives we involve ourselves in the local community and beyond, finding many ways to create a better and more just world.
Here are a few examples:
- The UUCR is proud to be an active partner of the non-profit organization Jericho Road of Lawrence. Through our participation, we supply volunteers in critically needed areas of nearby Lawrence.
- We have generously supported programs to assist immigrants from Iraq and Afghanistan settle into homes and find employment in nearby towns and cities.
- We actively support the Unitarian Universalist Urban Ministry in Roxbury which has many programs for inner city youth and an English-language tutoring program for women living in shelters.
- This past summer found a UUCR contingent at a North Shore beach, cleaning up and classifying debris and trash as part of our Helping Hands program.
- We sent a lively walking contingent to the Mother’s Day March For Peace in Dorchester.
- Our campus is the monthly host site for PFLAG: a monthly support group for parents and friends of lesbian and gay people.
- UUCR has volunteered our time and our hands at the Food Project Farm in Lincoln. We have raised money for Pakistan flood relief, and we sent skateboards to kids in Afghanistan. Our children and adults enthusiastically support the Halloween drive for UNICEF.
- Some church members volunteer for the local Habitat for Humanity or stock the shelves of the Reading Food Pantry. We stepped forward to assist Mission of Deeds, a local non-profit, with financial assistance to purchase bedding for the homeless.
- Our Undecorate the Tree program assists needy children served by the Department of Children and Families of Malden receive Christmas presents.
- Our Girls Scouts collected new and used newborn supplies for homeless new parents.
- Our congregation collected boxes and boxes of books for the Waltham non-profit More Than Words, a non-profit endeavor that supports teen business skills.
- Our church has partnered with the EMARC of Reading Massachusetts. EMARC is a non-profit helping children and adults with developmental disabilities live, work, and play in our communities.
These are just a few of the social action endeavors that we have supported with our hearts, our time, our hands, and our spirits.
I have heard that you are becoming involved in issues of equitable access to food and ethical eating. Can you tell us more about those endeavors?
Over the next two years, we will be focusing on a congregation-wide social justice project focusing on food (hunger, equitable access to healthy food and food distribution, and ethical eating practices). We will be challenging and inviting the congregation to educate themselves on ethical food issues, and to become directly involved in projects and community engagement events around these critical issues. We will be organizing projects ranging from working in community gardens in underserved urban areas to exploring the issues of eating primarily local produce. We hope you will join us in these transformative endeavors.
How do I find out how to get involved in some of the Social Action or Social Justice activities you offer?
Look at our web site, or read our newsletter, or contact our Member Services Coordinator at (781) 944-0494 ext. 103 or email our Member Services Coordinator by clicking here. We are all ready and eager to have you join with us to help make the world a more just and gentle place.
Does your church have fun?
There are so many ways to get to know others and to make friends at our church. There is the coffee hour after each service. Several times a year we have “church suppers” in the form of pot-luck dinners or the smaller “Dinners from Five to Nine” hosted by individual families. There’s the Men’s Group, the Mom’s Group, the Men’s Spirituality Group, and Liberal Ladies who all meet on a regular basis. You can join us for a sing-a-long, a talent show, a folk concert, a hike in the woods, a Winter Evening of food and music, and our fantastic Holiday Fair. We also have an early June beach weekend in Maine. Opportunities abound to meet and mingle with members and friends of the church community.
I’d like to learn a bit more about the church. Is there a simple way to do that?
Yes! Reverend Tim Kutzmark (our Minister) would be delighted to meet with you (just email him). Our Member Services Coordinator can answer all your questions and help you get a sense of how the church can meet your social and spiritual needs. Contact our Member Services Coordinator by email by clicking here. You are also invited to join Reverend Tim and our Member Services Coordinator for a 30-minute introduction to Unitarian Universalism and a quick tour of the church campus. We offer these short introductions once a month after the worship service. Just ask when the next tea and tour will take place.
Who is your minister and what does he do?
Reverend Tim Kutzmark is the spiritual leader of our Church. Rev. Tim guides our congregation of about 320 members and 170 friends and most importantly, YOU, our newest visitor and friend. Rev. Tim is present most Sundays to lead worship and greet you. He also has office hours on Sundays, Mondays and Wednesdays. Other times can be arranged as needed.
Rev. Tim is a engaging teacher who may lead an adult enrichment class that interests you or work along side you at a social action outing. When you have a chance to visit us again, make sure you pick up a past sermon booklet or two in our atrium during coffee hour. If you have questions about your spiritual life, our church, or are experiencing a time of challenge or transition, Rev. Tim will always make the time for a conversation or pastoral counseling. Click here to send Rev. Tim an email to make an appointment, or call the church office at 781-944-0494
Will I be pressured to join your church?
While visitors are always welcomed, no one is ever pressured to join our church. Many people enjoy attending the church as “friends” before making the commitment to membership.
What if I like what I find here and want to become a member?
Becoming a member of the church is a meaningful decision. It carries certain responsibilities including the expectation that you will participate in activities and programs, that you will share your talents with us by volunteering to be part of a ministry team or committee, volunteer to usher on Sunday morning a few times a year, and offer your financial support through a yearly financial commitment.
Several times a year, our minister and the Membership Team offers the class “Unitarian Universalist Basics—An Introduction to Our Faith. ” This is a chance to learn about our Unitarian Universalist history and beliefs, as well as what it means to be a member of the church. We encourage everyone who is exploring our church to attend one of these sessions. You will have fun and get to meet other people who are new to the church.
We officially welcome new members at a special New Member Sunday service three times yearly. The entire congregation participates in the formal welcoming ceremony.
What if I have more questions?
We are always here to answer or return your call, email, or smile at you should you walk in. You can visit us weekdays on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 8:00am to 6:00pm. Click here to email the church office or call us at (781) 944-0494.
With so much going on, how do I make sure I don’t miss something?
The best way to know what is going on a church is through our newsletter. This will provide you with a full description of upcoming services, classes, and events. To subscribe to the newsletter subscription, use the Subscription form on the newsletter page, or ask Rosemary in the church office to enroll you - service with a smile! Call Rosemary at 781-944-0494 or click here to email the church administrator.