Frequently Asked Questions about South Valley UU
What time is online Sunday worship?
10 a.m. in person, via Zoom, and live-streamed on our YouTube channel.
How long is the Sunday service?
Typically around an hour. Worship is often followed by a coffee and conversation in our social hall.
What happens at a Sunday service?
Unitarian Universalism (UU) emerged from protestant Christian traditions and today welcomes people from diverse religious and spiritual backgrounds- including those without previous religious experience. Our Sunday service includes singing, ritual, readings from a variety of sources and a central message or theme, often in the form of a sermon from the minister. Children are welcome to stay with their families for the duration of worship or may join our religious exploration activities for the day.
Can my kids participate in services?
Yes. Children breathe energy into the life of South Valley! Children begin in the sanctuary with the adults and then following a Time for all Ages story or activity are released to our religious exploration classes. Children are welcome to stay with their parents in the sanctuary, hang out in our children’s corner (stocked with quiet toys/books and a comfy yellow couch) or use one of our “wiggly worshipers bags” to keep little hands busy and minds engaged. We also have several rocking chairs throughout the sanctuary for parents with newborns to enjoy.
Is there prayer?
Yes-sometimes. It has been said that meditation goes in and prayer goes out but both aim for the same place of union between you and the Sacred/God/Mystery. When we pray, it is an invitation rather than a directive. It is common for us to open prayer with the words “spirit of love and life” rather than explicitly calling upon God. At South Valley, prayer is closely paired with meditation as two aspects of developing a robust sense of spiritual depth and practice.
Are there refreshments?
Generally, light refreshments are served in the social hall following the worship service.
Is there a sermon?
Most Sundays, yes. At times, there is a special service where the sermon is shortened, split into multiple parts, and/or replaced by other programming. In any case, a central thematic message is delivered.
Do you read aloud or quote from the Bible?
The Bible is not regularly quoted but it is part of Unitarian Universalist roots and one of our many sources of inspiration and guidance. A Bible verse may appear in a reading or sermon, just as texts, both ancient and modern, from other faith traditions may be used. More often than not, poetry and spoken words of various thinkers and story tellers are central to our sermons- even the occasional NPR story or podcast might show up. And always, we present topics and perspectives with respect, compassion and humor.
Is there music?
Music is integral to our worship, in the form of hymns, professionally trained soloists, and wonderful instrumental performances by guitar, flute, piano and more.
Do you sing hymns?
Yes! We sing selections from two UUA Hymnals, Singing the Living Tradition and Singing the Journey. Some of these works were written specifically to enhance a UU service. Others emerge from a variety of faith traditions across the world.
Are you connected to First Unitarian Church on 1300 E in Salt Lake City?
Both congregations are part of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), which provides resources for congregations throughout the world, however, each of the churches operates independently of the other. Each offers a unique perspective, just as two Lutheran churches may provide their own take on the theology.
Is your church building accessible?
Our front entrance, lobby and sanctuary are fully wheelchair accessible from the sidewalk and parking area. There is an ADA-compliant restroom just off the lobby. Our kitchen, social hall and four classrooms can be reached via elevator from the lobby. Our annex, with two additional classrooms, is accessible via an outdoor ramp. Our backyard playground is level with the parking lot, although these paved surfaces are uneven in places.
Besides worship, what other ways can I get involved?
The best place to start is to just show up! We have monthly labyrinth and sound bath nights, a book group, small discussion groups, social justice actions and advocacy opportunities, a knitting group, humanist and pagan groups and two choirs. We encourage newcomers to especially check out our Starting Point series offered periodically throughout the year. This 3 part series on Sundays after worship is a great way to meet others, enjoy a delicious soup lunch and dive into the big questions.
Do I have to be a member to attend services?
Absolutely not. We wholeheartedly welcome visitors and expect that individuals would get to know the community before making a commitment to membership.
Do you welcome LGBTQIA+ persons?
Yes. We seek to create a community that is welcoming for those who are bisexual, gay, lesbian, transgender, intersex, queer, questioning, and persons of any identity expression. The large rainbow flag on the front of our building proudly affirms this commitment, and about one-third of our membership identifies as LGBTQIA+. In 1995, SVUUS became the first official UU Welcoming Congregation in the Intermountain West.
I am [Muslim / Catholic / Atheist / Pagan /…] Can I attend services?
Yes. South Valley aims to be welcoming and inclusive of all, regardless of your religious or non-religious background. As with all forms of diversity, having meaningful interactions with those with differing life experiences and views only serves to enrich our lives and deepen our personal search for truth and meaning.
Do you welcome LDS or ex-LDS persons?
Yes. Approximately one-half of our membership is ex-LDS. In addition, we host a popular Religious Transition Group, an empowering and nurturing place for discussion about religious change, conflict, or disillusionment.
I am politically conservative. Can I attend services?
Yes. South Valley aims to be welcoming and inclusive of all. We are a liberal faith theologically (we don’t have dogma or creed) so this makes for very interesting discussions always! We are actively engaged in social justice work and we seek to live by our shared values of love, justice, equity and compassion for all people. You’ll be challenged to think hard here, but we do need not think alike to love alike.
What kind of volunteer or social action opportunities are available?
There are dozens of ways to get involved at SVUUS. You can join a book club, sing or ring in our choirs, help create worship services as a reader, teach a class for children or adults or help prepare a meal for homeless teens.
Do Unitarian Universalists believe in God?
Unitarian Universalists (UUs) have many ways of naming what is sacred. Some believe in a God; others do not. Some believe in a sacred force at work in the world and call it “love,” “mystery,” “source of all” or “spirit of life.” We are thousands of individuals of all ages and backgrounds—each influenced by our culture and experiences to understand the universe in our own way. Among Unitarian Universalists, you will find agnostics, theists, pagans, atheists, and everything in between. This three-minute video may be helpful: We Are Unitarian Universalists.
What do UUs think about sin?
There is no direct concept of “sin” in Unitarian Universalism. Morality, as constrained by sin in other faith traditions, is best attained by living our principles (see below) to the best of our abilities. Humans are human and do mess up. In our community, what might be considered “atonement” in Christian tradition typically looks like a conversation with the wronged party or, for large issues, a community discussion. Introducing fear or shame doesn’t serve anyone’s best interest.
How can you have a church with no doctrine?
Unitarian Universalism affirms Seven Principles, which we hold as strong values and moral guides. Our spirituality is unbounded, drawing from scripture and science, nature and philosophy, personal experience and ancient tradition as described in the Six Sources.
Why a “society” and not a “church”?
Historically, Unitarian Universalists have preferred to emphasize positive action in the world over purely spiritual practices. This has resulted in some UU churches calling themselves a Congregation, a Society, or a Fellowship as opposed to a Church. That said, many UU congregations around the world do use Church in their name.
Do you celebrate [insert major holiday here]?
South Valley recognizes and has services devoted to many major holidays from faith traditions throughout the world. Typically, the associated traditional rites are placed in a historical or theological context and parallels are drawn to other similar traditions or to modern life.