We know people may like to get oriented online before visiting for the first time. We want to make sure we’re answering all your questions and making it easy to connect with our community. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions.
What can I expect on Sunday morning?
The Olympia Unitarian Universalist Congregation is a joyful and caring liberal religious community. We offer Sunday services that include moving, insightful sermons by our minister, guest speakers, and laypeople of the church. Our music is extraordinary and inspiring. Due to the Coronavirus restrictions, we are offering online worship only. There is one Sunday service at 10:00 a.m. Services typically last about an hour. Following each service, all are invited to linger for coffee, tea, and conversation in virtual break-out rooms on Zoom. Children are welcome! When we meet in person, the children may leave the sanctuary to take part in religious education programs after the story portion of the service.
How many members do you have?
As of April 2020, the church has 301 official members (those who have signed the membership book).
Where is the best place to park?
When we meet in person, parking is available in the upper parking lot (East End St side of the building) and lower parking lot (Division St side of the building) or along East End St or Burbank St. Parking stalls for those who are less able are available on the south side of the building. Parking stalls for visitors are available near the main entry stairs. Please do not park in the cul-de-sac or in front of residents’ driveways. Please note that gate to enter the parking lot from Division St is closed Monday through Friday. The weekday entrance is at East End St.
Are there people of color in this congregation?
There are a few BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) members of OUUC.
Are people of color welcome in this congregation?
Yes, Unitarian Universalists welcome all people. OUUC is an antiracist community and we continue to prioritize social justice and advocacy for BIPOC individuals in our congregation, our community, our country, and the world.
Are there bisexual, gay, lesbian, and transgender people in this congregation? Are they welcome?
Yes to all. OUUC is an affirming and welcoming congregation.
Are there people in the congregation who are pagans, atheists, agnostics, Christians, Buddhists, Muslims?
The roots of Unitarian Universalism lie in Judaism and Christianity. We honor those traditions but are not bound by them. We seek truth and direction for our lives in the wisdom of other religions and secular heritages. We have church members from many faith backgrounds.
What goes on during the worship service?
OUUC offers a variety of worship experiences. Our Minister conducts services three Sundays a month from September through June; other services draw from the talents and wisdom of our congregation and the larger community. Generally, worship services include the following elements: lighting the chalice, welcoming visitors, children’s story (after which children are dismissed to attend religious education classes), readings, music (congregational singing and/or choir anthem), sermon, offering, pastoral prayer, and extinguishing the chalice.
What does the Flaming Chalice symbol mean?
Hans Deutsch, an Austrian artist, first brought together the chalice and the flame as a Unitarian symbol during his work with the Unitarian Service Committee during World War II. To Deutsch, the image had connotations of sacrifice and love. Unitarian Universalists today have many different interpretations of the image. To many, the cup represents the religious community, while the flame represents ideas including the sacrificial flame, the flame of the spirit, and more. The flaming chalice image has changed many times over the past 65 years. There is no single interpretation of today’s flaming chalice symbol. Modern chalice designs often incorporate two overlapping circles which, for many people, represent our Unitarian and Universalist heritages. Other images include additional elements, some of which are merely decorative and others which are very meaningful.
How do I become a member?
We have developed some guidelines about how to become a member called The Path to Membership. See How to Become a Member.
Can I make an appointment with the minister?
Yes. You can call or email the minister directly to set up an appointment. Rev. Mary Gear can be reached at email@example.com
Can I get a name tag?
At in-person services, newcomers are offered a stick-on name tag at the Welcome Kiosk in the Commons. Those wishing to have a permanent name tag can request one by filling out the Visitors Card.
How do I find out about all the groups and activities in the church?
You can read our guide called Congregational Connections. This guide lists all the groups and programs offered at our church. Look for an opportunity to get involved that matches your interests. For information about meeting times and what is happening with each group please contact the person listed.
What’s up with the phone system? How do I talk to a real person?
Incoming calls are answered by an auto-attendant and are routed to the individual staff member. Callers may leave a voice mail for staff who may be busy or unavailable. Information including services times, directions, emergency contact numbers, and details on special events are available on a recorded message.
When is the church office open?
The church office is not currently open due to building closures related to COVID-19. You can reach staff members using the staff directory. The church office will be closed on scheduled holidays and may be closed on unscheduled inclement weather days.
What happens at the church during the week?
You can check the website for the church calendar of events. Many things happen during the week – Adult Education classes, committee meetings, choir rehearsal, and special events.
Do you have a singles group?
What kind of Sunday school do you have?
[The following information has not been adapted or updated to reflect our youth services as of COVID-19 restrictions and protocols. Please contact Sara Lewis for more information about current religious education.]
We seek to provide children with an environment that is creative and safe; one that encourages personal exploration and promotes each child’s journey to their own belief system and world view. Adults accompany children on this journey while recognizing that spiritual growth is unique to each individual. The OUUC Religious Education Program is designed to both promote individual self-exploration and give children knowledge of the many sources of spiritual inspiration and the UU values and principles. We are committed to providing an environment that encourages and empowers children to learn. Our Sunday morning experience is a fun and active part of the vibrant community of the OUUC. Our children laugh, grow, make friends, explore tough questions, and sometimes even try to change the world.
We welcome newcomers throughout the year, and your family can visit any class, with very few exceptions. Our Director of Religious Education (DRE), Sara Lewis, can give you a short tour of the classrooms and show you where your child would go for class. For younger children, parents may accompany their child to class if they wish. If you plan on visiting more than three times throughout the year, we ask that you complete a registration form which is available from the DRE. Completing this form will get you signed up for communications and announcements from the RE program. OUUC feels strongly that providing religious education classes for all ages is part of our larger mission and ministry, and consequently, there is no fee for participation. Some families choose to make a donation to the RE program, which can be dropped off at the church office with “RE” on the memo line.
Can my children just try it out?
Yes, you are welcome to bring your children to visit a class. Children can visit up to three times before we will ask you to register for the program.
How can I volunteer with the kids?
All of our teachers and assistant teachers and advisors are volunteers. It’s a great group, and we’d love to have you join us. Volunteers need to be able to pass a background check. Speak to the DRE about signing up if you are interested.
What if I have other questions?
We have a Director of Religious Education, Sara Lewis, who would be happy to chat with you about the program and answer any questions you may have. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
If my child doesn’t separate well, can she or he stay with me in the service?
Infants and young children are welcome to attend the Sunday worship services. Parents are encouraged to be mindful of all in attendance and to manage their infants and children so as to be respectful of the rights of others. Seats are available in the nursery or in the church entry where parents with restless infants and children can listen to the service through the speaker system.
How do you join the choir?
Talk to our Music Director, Troy Fisher. New choir members are always welcome and there are no auditions required.
I liked the sermon. Can I get a copy of it?
All services are recorded and are available on the church website here. We also publish PDF trasncripts of most sermons.
What should I and my children wear to this church?
People attending OUUC wear a wide range of clothing styles, from dressy to casual. Children can wear clothing appropriate for religious education classes that may include art or physical activities.
How do I get on your email announcement list?
You can sign up for weekly email announcements by filling out the Visitors Card at the visitor’s table in the Commons. You can also sign up here:
What are the questions missing from this page? What questions would you add?
Please fill out the form. If you leave your contact information, we’ll get back to you, but leaving your contact information is not required.