For Visitors: What to Expect
Visiting a new place of worship for the first time can be exciting (and intimidating). Here are some friendly notes to help you find your way through a service with us.
Please note that we want everyone to be safe. We invite you to read about our in-person service expectations for the next few months.
Religious Education Hour
Sundays begin at 9:30 am with our religious education hour. We have classes for youth from kindergarten to senior high. We also have adult religious education classes or places for adults to gather and relax. During COVID, some of our adult programs are virtual, but we have moved all youth programs in doors, with masks.
Sunday Worship Services
Our Sunday Worship Services begin at 11:00 am at our Shaker Heights location (21600 Shaker Boulevard). We have plenty of parking behind the building, including covered spaces under our solar array.
You’ll enter via the back of the building – the East Entrance has stairs, while the West Entrance has a ramp. We have an elevator that makes all the floors of our split-level building accessible. In our sanctuary, you’ll find pews, a pulpit, hymnals and other items you’d expect in other houses of worship.
A typical worship service lasts about an hour. After a warm welcome and some announcements, we light our chalice. The chalice lighting is an important part of our opening ritual, and most Unitarian Universalist (UU) services begin this way. It is one way that we connect with our fellow UUs.
Throughout the service, we’ll sing hymns. Many of our songs may be familiar, but you may find some of the theology expressed in our words to be different from traditional versions.
Most often we have a Time for All Ages, which is a family-friendly message related to the day’s sermon.
The second part of the service is when we gather our weekly offering. The money collected is given to a nonprofit operating in our community. Last year, we donated more than $25,000 to nonprofits in and beyond our community. Some recent recipients include The Music Settlement and Meals on Wheels.
Our readings come from from sources as diverse as global religious texts, poetry, non-fiction, and personal narratives. Past readings have come from the Torah, Bible and Quran; world literature; comic books; television, current events; and poets like Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, Mary Oliver and Emily Dickinson.
In the sermon, the person in the pulpit (often our minister, Rev. Randy Partain, but sometimes not) offers you something to consider, challenging you to think about a moral, civic or spiritual issue.
After the service, everyone is invited to joins us for a time of fellowship. It’s the perfect time to meet our members and get to know us better.