We hope these Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) will answer your questions, but if they don’t, please contact us – see details at the Contact Us tab above. If you email us, please put FAQs in the subject line, so we’ll know what’s missing from these pages. Thank you for helping us to welcome visitors like you!
UUCNC is a Welcoming Congregation.
This designation underscores our commitment as a congregation to work hard to make sure lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people are full members of our faith community. We strive for radical inclusion, creating spaces that honor every part of our identities, backgrounds, and experiences.
Many UUCNC members and friends have signed this Statement on Racial Justice:
We, the undersigned members and friends of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Northern Chautauqua, believe that Black Lives Matter. The suffering caused by racism must end if we want to create fair and loving communities. We strive to end racial discrimination, starting within ourselves and moving out into the world around us. We advocate for eliminating racist policies such as mass imprisonment and attacks on voting rights. We support racial justice and efforts to build a peaceful, restorative culture, where race has no bearing on economic opportunities or legal protections. We acknowledge that white supremacy devalues and dehumanizes people of color. Therefore, we commit ourselves to the difficult work of personal and societal change as allies under the leadership of people of color.
How can I find out more about Unitarian Universalism before I visit to see if it’s right for me?
Want to “try us on” before your first visit? Try this fun self-assessment tool or read about Unitarian Universalism here or at the Our Faith tab above.
Each UU congregation has a different personality, and worship services differ from week to week within a single congregation. Give us a try, and see if it’s a good fit. If you visit a few times, and you’re still not sure, arrange to speak with any board member or with our consulting minister. We’re eager to help you in your journey of discovery!
What can I expect at a Sunday service?
We are a vibrant liberal religious congregation in Northern Chautauqua County in Western New York State. Weekly worship will resume in September, in person with a Zoom option. Consult our online calendar for up-to-date information and links to our worship services. Our COVID-19 policy is posted at the top of the News & Events page.
Our worship services celebrate life, as well as acknowledging the struggles we encounter personally and in our larger world. They honor and use as a guide a variety of spiritual understandings and traditions, including earth-based, Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, humanist, and other world religions. Worship services tend to follow a traditional Protestant format with readings from a variety of spiritual sources, singing, and a sermon based on a variety of topics and drawing from a range of spiritual traditions — although we do have services that are an exception to this, such as our annual music service.
Children come with their parents, grandparents and guardians for the first part of the service, and there is often a story for them during this time.
I would like to visit a Sunday service. What should I wear?
As one of our sister congregations advises, wear what makes you happy, comfortable and would not get you arrested if you were on the street. This applies to all our events and services. Dress up, if you like, or not. It’s up to you. On a given Sunday morning, you might find some men in sport coats and slacks, others in shirt sleeves or sweaters and blue jeans. Many women wear slacks, but some are more comfortable in skirts or casual dresses. Children, please “dress for mess.” We want our youngsters to explore without concern for dirtying or damaging something special.
After I visit, how can I become more connected and involved?
The Soul Matters small group format encourages spiritual growth, engaging in spiritual practice, deep listening, and sharing on each month’s theme. Soul Matters groups (6-10 people) commit to meeting twice a month, currently on the Zoom platform.
Affinity Groups are another way to strengthen our community as the congregation grows in size. These small groups are usually centered around a specific interest, such as women’s spirituality, men’s spirituality, creative writing, even motorcycle riding! They’re a good place to better get to know others. Visitors and new attenders are welcome, as are suggestions for new Affinity Groups. Currently, one Affinity Group meets monthly on the Zoom platform: Women of Spirit for women high school age and up.
Spiritual Exploration classes for adults are another opportunity to get to know others in the congregation. Our consulting minister or a member of the congregation may lead a single-session workshop or a course that meets for several weeks. Sometimes there is homework: a chapter to read or a writing assignment. Usually participants are asked to pre-register for Spiritual Exploration classes, so that enough books can be ordered or sufficient printed materials prepared. Participants may be asked to purchase a book; some copies may be available for loan.
Orientation classes, such as An Introduction To Our Faith and Our Congregation, are offered each year. Newcomers and longtime attenders alike enjoy learning more about Unitarian Universalism as a faith tradition, and also about this congregation. We get to know each other better by briefly sharing a bit about our personal religious paths as part of these orientation classes.
Much of the work of our congregation is accomplished through committees, which meet—currently on the Zoom platform—to discuss, plan, and reflect. All who are interested are welcome to become part of committees. Consider participating on a committee as a way of sharing your unique experiences, needs and gifts, as together we build, among and beyond ourselves, a caring and compassionate community. Please indicate your interest to the committee chair or a member of the Executive Board, or use the Contact Us tab above to express your interest and request that your inquiry be forwarded to the appropriate committee chair or representative.
The monthly newsletter—sent via email—and the News & Events tab above will give you more information about each opportunity. Still not sure? Ask others after a Sunday worship service, or use the Contact Us tab above to ask for details.