Frequently Asked Questions about South Valley UU
What time is online Sunday worship?
10:30 am, in person and live-streamed on our YouTube channel.
How long is the Sunday service?
Typically around an hour. Worship is followed by conversation in our online social time.
What happens at a Sunday service?
Unitarian Universalism (UU) emerged from protestant Christian traditions. While the focus on Jesus of Nazareth as the Son of God is not part of contemporary Unitarian Universalist practice, the structure of services remains familiar to protestants: Hymns, Readings, Recitations, Music, Meditation or Prayer, and focused Sermons are all elements of our weekly worship. In addition, the first portion of our service features a “Time for All Ages” story or activity in which everyone can participate.
Can my kids participate in services?
Yes. Children breathe energy into the life of South Valley, nearly outnumbering adults on some Sundays. Each service includes a Time for All Ages story or activity that your children will enjoy.
Is there prayer?
During nearly all services, there is a meditation which embodies the purpose of prayer–a centering time for thoughtfulness. Some congregants consider this a time for prayer, if that is part of their personal spiritual practice.
Are there refreshments?
Generally, refreshment is served in the front lobby 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.
Is there music?
Music is integral to our worship, in the form of hymns, professionally trained soloists, and instrumental performances by guitar, flute, harp 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?
You can join a book discussion, or help out in our Religious Exploration classes. Meditate at home on Saturday morning, then join fellow practitioners for online conversation. Help prepare a meal for homeless teens or share your talent in our Prayer Shawl Ministry. Find companionship and support in a weekly online chat or Sacred Seniors gathering. Or join one of several committees that support the life of the congregation.
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. 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.
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, young adult group, Prayer Shawl group, Sacred Seniors, and many others. You may want to volunteer in our Religious Exploration program 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.