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I would love to have
some feed back about a Sunday morning worship service for
toddlers and babies (and their parents). Thanks a bunch!
We moved to the area while I was pregnant & we were lookikng for the
same thing - a church community where our children will be embraced and
get involved, and not relegated to the back row. We visited a number of
churches & the one where my husband and I resoundingly agreed would be
the best environment for our children, plus where we both felt most
comfortable was Orinda Community Church. Although not the largest
church, it has the strongest family-like community. Everyone in
OCC(from the very old to the very young) knows my childrens names,
interests, and talks to them with sincerety, and has shown genuine
Children of all ages are invited to join parents in the service. They
even provide crayons and coloring pages for the little ones in the
sanctuary. I was initially afraid of afraid of my baby cooing or my
toddler prattle during the service, but have come to realize that
everyone is realistic and welcomes all ages - some churches make you
feel like you would at a formal restaurant, nervous that they might be
disruptive, but at OCC it feels more like being with friends and
family. They often simply smile if toddlers exhibit some normal toddler
behavior, or babies do what babies naturally do! Almost all have had
their own children at some point and been there. I have even had
occaision, when as a new mother in need of a little rest, respite, and
spiritual renewal, had members of the church offer to hold and comfort
a crying baby while I take a few minutes to re-charge my own batteries,
so to speak. As they grew older, my daughters could not sit still
during the music and enjoyed dancing in the aisles, which at first I
was afraid would disturb the older church members, only to be told they
found it such a joy to see them enjoying the service and the music in
their own way.
Every service each week includes ''time for our children'' where all
children are invited to come up and participate in a part of the
service where they talk about the sermon for the day in childrens terms
and involve some activity that makes it fun and meaningful for the
kids. Children are then welcome to either stay in sanctuary for the
reading and sermon with their parents or go to the Learning Center
where they offer activities for all ages. Infants are nurtured and
cared for. Toddlers play and continue to discuss the sermon for the day
and do a craft related to it which they can bring home and remember it
by. School age children have additiuonal discussions, activities, and
sharing of joys and concerns with each other. They are involved in
choosing a long term project which has meaning to them, and have raised
money for Heifer, plant a fruit tree, fed sandwiches to the homeless,
visited other churches, planned fun outings, etc..
Every year OCC plans a number of activities where all ages have fun,
such as a family picnic in the summer, a Yosemite weekend in the
spring, an Oktoberfest barbecue in the fall, a craft & carol night at
the start of advent, etc.. OCC is so welcoming of kids and makes them
feel such a part of the family - my preschoolers have begun to
participate during announcements, and my young daughters feel
comfortable to share their joys and concerns with the church - whether
a grandma is ill, or a relative is coming to visit. OCC is a member of
the United Church of Christ.
One of the other things we love is that they welcome everyone, wherever
you are on life's journey, and provide a forum for discussion for those
seeking spiritaul understanding. Members include people with a variety
of backgrounds - from people raised in catholic church to agnostics. My
husband, for example is half jewish and did not attend church or
synagogue as a kid - he felt uncomfortable in a number of churches.
However, he always felt comfortable at OCC. As children become teens
and have more questions, the openess to question as part of their own
seeking and understanding and development of their own personal faith
is an important part. I look forward to being welcomed as my daughters
reach that age.
Montclair Presbeterian has a wonderful program called Godly
play where the kids handle little toys and feel out stories.
Check it out. Reenie
I highly recommend Epworth United Methodist Church in
Berkeley (1953 Hopkins Street) for anyone looking for a
family-friendly, open-minded, diversity-loving church.
Years ago, my husband and I visited several churches trying
to find something we could both relate to... he grew up
Baptist, and I grew up new-agey and questioning... and I
still am. We wanted something that was traditional but not
rigid, and ultra-inclusive without being bland. We could not
find quite the right fit anywhere, and since it was hard to
commit to Sunday mornings, we let it go for awhile.
When the kids were born, we tried harder to find a church
where we could raise them with a solid foundation that they
could later build on and choose for themselves.
Epworth has been the answer for us. The community is lovely,
diverse in every way, welcoming and very active in the
community. The pastor, Odette Lockwood-Stewart is smart,
funny, interesting, accessible and basically amazing.
Children are a priority for the church, and kids actively
participate in the service. There is Sunday school for kids
and youth of all ages, including nursery care for infants,
and it doesn't matter if you come every week, or just once,
all are always welcome.
Also, there are lots and lots of ways to be involved, if you
want to be, without any pressure if you choose not to.
Services begin at 10am and go for about an hour (sometimes
less), with optional refreshments (and good coffee)
For more info., you can go to the website:
www.epworthberkeley.org, or call the church office at 510-
Going on 10 years as an Epworth Family
The Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley (actually in
the hills of Kensington) is starting this fall a religious
education class for toddlers and preschoolers. Until now,
most young children stayed in service for the first 15
minutes or so, then left for the childcare program after the
story. We are now integrating into the childcare program a
15-20 minute toddler-friendly ''class'' based on the theme
of the month. The class will include songs, a ''chalice
lighting'' (fabric flames), and a story or activity. After
the class, the children will just play in the childcare
until the end of service. Children are also free to remain
with their families during service if they wish.
We also have weekly Thursday night suppers that are catered
by a church member. Typically, children eat with the group,
then go off to play supervised by a childcare person.
Parents are free to attend a small worship service. Last
night we started the first of our first-Thursday family
nights where the worship is specifically geared towards
For more information, call the minister of religious
education, Chris Holton-
Jablonski at (510) 525-0302 ext. 304.
Our family recently moved to Berkeley. We are looking for
a church community with an active, inspiring minister who
also counsels parishioners. We are interested in many
different social, environmental, and community projects
including international work. Programs designed to interest
teens would be a big plus. It also would be wonderful if
the congregation valued music as part of its worship
services. We would appreciate a church community that is
not too doctrinaire and that welcomes meditation and other
meaningful teachings from other religions. Thank you.
Sounds like you'd be right at home at the Northbrae
Community Church in North Berkeley Just above Solano Ave.
Nothbrae has served the Berkeley community for over a
hundred years, and over the years has developed a form of
Judeo-Christian spirituality that incorporates many insights
from other faiths and practices. You can see the influence
in the stained glass windows in our beautiful chapel--they
include people we call Torchbearers: Isaiah, Buddha, Lao Tsu
and Muhammad (in a respectful representation of brotherhood,
not the prophet) as well as Jesus and Paul. You can also
find torchbearers like Emerson, Florence Nightengale,
Gandhi, and Albert Einstein. They are a reminder that we
can all live a life that lights the dark.
Our Pastor is inspiring, often bringing insights from other
faiths and corners of the world. We have a Biblical Scholar
who regularly looks at the week's readings from a scholarly
as well as emotional vantage point. And I am the
Storyteller, regularly telling myths and legends from around
the world for the children's sermon. Add to this a fabulous
music program, and you have some excellent Sunday services.
We have a children's program that is growing stronger every
year. Most of our children are younger than teens, although
we do have a teen program (when they come to church). We
also are renewing our rite-of-passage program for pre-teens
that is worth finding out about.
The Northbrae facility is a large, friendly, open place
where a number of community programs gather. You can find
meditation classes, yoga, 12-step programs, and other more
secular groups gathering in the gracious buildings.
I hope you'll drop by some Sunday soon and say hello. We'd
love to meet you and your family!
If you are looking for a welcoming church, please take a
look at St Alban's Episcopal Church
in Albany at the coner
of Washington and Curtis Streets. It's a friendly parish,
with active programs for children and teens. There is
someone teaching QiGong in the parish hall at least one
evening a week, and a number of early music groups present
concerts there. For more information, check out thier
website at http://www.st-albans-albany.org/ or call the
paish at 510-525-1716. There is a regular Sunday choir,
and the church has an organ.
You might want to try our church, Epworth United Methodist Church. It is much
like you describe and a wonderful community.
I was bought up in a gently christian household, and though not a
regular 'church-goer' feel that I'd like to at least share some
of those values and experiences with my kids, 3 and 1. We're
looking for a family friendly church, where we can maybe help
answer some of our adult questions about faith and spirituality,
and also share some of that with the boys, especially since we
find ourselves far from home this Christmas and not able to tap
into what we know and love at home in the Uk.
Any recommendations much appreciated (we live in Rockridge, but
don't mind a drive for the right place).
Christmas is coming!
You should definitely try All Souls Episcopal Church in
Berkeley on the corner of Cedar and Spruce. It is a wonderful
place for families. We have been there since my older child was
2... she is now 9 and we have a 7 year-old son as well. For
both of them, All Souls has provided a gentle, supportive place
to explore some difficult questions. More importantly, it is a
community where they experience love and joy. I hope you will
check us out! Christmas is a particularly fun time to be there -
we have a children's service and pageant at 5:30 on Christmas
I'm not a churchgoer, but have attended and enjoyed several services at
Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church.
It's a warm, welcoming place that really
embraces everyone. Check it out! http://www.labcoakland.org/
You are welcome to come visit
Church Without Walls in Berkeley. We are a
multi-ethnic congregation, and have ~45 kids ranging from babies, toddlers, to
school age and have wonderful teachers for our children's church. We meet on
Sundays at 5pm, near University Ave/Acton St.
Here is the link to our website for more information:
I highly recommend checking out our church -
First Presbyterian Church
in Berkeley (corner of Dana & Channing). We are a vibrant community
with something for everyone - children to adults. Come to our Hanging
of the Greens concert Sunday, Dec. 6 at 7 pm for a joyful start to the
Advent Season. Check out our website at www.fpcberkeley.org for more
information on our many programs.
First Pres Family
I invite you to check out my church, the
Orinda Community Church.
(www.orindachurch.org). Just off the highway in Orinda, it is progressive,
welcoming to all, has a great children's program, and services feature amazing
music. The congregation is friendly and we have members from all around the
East Bay. The church also organizes excellent speakers and workshops, and has
a new group learning about global warming and what we can do as individuals.
It is part of the United Church of Christ.
We are members at Christ Church Berkeley, and love the community
there. Lots of families and young people. Very accessible to those
who are exploring faith, and a safe place to ask tough questions for
those who are already Christians. This is the first church community
I have really felt OK saying that I don't have my ''act'' together.
(My main issues with churches in the past is that I felt they were not
''real''...everyone seemed to go around acting like they were happy
and fine.) This is a place where you can admit your faults,
struggles, and doubts, and hear the gospel that Jesus has paid the
penalty for all of that and accepts you fully just as you are. The
website is christchurchberkeley.org if you'd like to check it out.
(There is also a night service at 5pm on Sundays in the Rockridge
neighborhood in Oakland.)
My 4- (almost 5)- year old daughter has been asking recently
about wanting to go to church, and is curious about God. I do
not practice any particular religion (though I love Christmas
carol services, have attended Friends meetings in the way past,
and have an affinity for Buddhist thinking - open to many paths).
Our family does not practice any specific religion, more a
humanist treating-others-well perspective. I have told her many
people think many different things about who/what God is, and (in
essence) that churches are places people can go to think and talk
about ways to live well and kindly and love others.
Is there a church anyone can recommend whose congregants would be
OK with our going so she can see what one version of the
experience is like? I don't want to offend anyone by seeming to
be practicing ''church as tourist attraction'' but I want to
honor her curiosity. Seems it would need to be kid-friendly or
kid-focused as her attention span is unlikely to last a long time.
A few ideas: Try the Unitarian church near the top of Moser,
above the Arlington. First Unitarian
Church of Berkeley in Kensington.
There is a nice young children's program at the very liberal
Catholic parish at Dwight and Collge in Berkeley. Mass is at
9:30. It is the Newman Hall- Holy Spirit Parish. Very
welcoming and low key and no need to join up.
Also, Epworth Church on Hopkins in north Berkeley, between the
tunnel and the library is also a well-loved church. I', sure
they have a great children's program.
I am grateful for your openness to your child's curiosity about
religion and spirituality. I would hope that all faith
communities should welcome newcomers and visitors, regardless of
whether or not they'll become members. Come visit us at
Spirit Community Church in Berkeley - we are a unique community
affiliated with Christian denominations and blessed with
interfaith families. We plan our worship with visitors in mind
and are very kid-friendly. If your child would like to take a
''tour'' after church and ask questions, we'd be happy to spend
time with your family. You can learn all about us & get more
info at www.newspiritchurch.org
-Pastoral Associate @ NSCC
Try the Alameda Spiritual Living Center
services, my 5 yo son
loves them... they have a kid's program, music, and it's
Try going to
First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley. There is a
wonderful program for children where your daughter could join
other kids her age in wondering about God.
If you would like to do something with her, there are several
service times with slightly different styles. I might suggest
going to the one on Sundays at 11:27am, welcoming, relaxed and
not too quiet for a child :) . My daughter of similar age loves
the music there.
a church member with questioning kids
Definitely go to Glide in San Francisco!
As they themselves say: they accept everyone - the reverend's
wife was apparently an atheist when they started the church :)
There is always a sermon, but it's mostly a lot of singing - very
I took my son when he was only 3 months old & he loved it.
As a side note: hurrah to you for honoring your son's request.
I spent the summer that I was 9 with my Christian relatives in
Virginia & came home asking my Buddhist mom if we could go to
church (I think I mostly wanted the singing & the community),
and, bless her heart, we went every Sunday for a few years...and
then I grew out of it/found other ways to fulfill those needs...
I am ''church shopping'' and have tried various services in the East
Bay. I am very moved by a good choir, but the churches that have these
seem to be heavy on the salvation message. I still question the Bible,
but have a desire to persue Christianity. Does such a denomination
I am seeking a church with an inquiring view of Biblical texts, not a
Check out Oakland's First Presbyterian Church
at 27th and Broadway. It's
a beautiful building and the musical director is great. It has an
amazing organ that people travel to come see. It's in transition now, as
the church is looking for a new minister and about to appoint an interim,
but I just joined and I've been very happy with the community and with
the open-mindedness of the church. I, too, am uncomfortable with
''salvation-heavy'' messages, as well as with a literal interpretation of
the Bible, and found first pres to be a good fit. Service is Sunday at 10
I attend a very open-minded, progressive church with a seeking,
intellectual pastor who really opens up biblical texts in unexpected
ways. She is a real gem. We have a small but often very good choir and
a positive relationship with music generally. We're an interracial
congregation with a good number of LGBT members and all kinds of
families. It's Epworth United Methodist Church
in North Berkeley. We
have a warm and welcoming community of people on various stages and paths
of spiritual journeys. You would be most welcome.
not a fundamentalist
i invite you to visit first presbyterian church of oakland. our website
is www.firstchurchoakland.org. we are diverse in many ways. while the
presbyterian church is old and traditional, our congregation is fairly
liberal and usually welcomes differences and questioning.
church-goer but not evangelistic
We've recently moved to Alameda and are looking for a liberally minded
congregation. Our background is Unitarian Universalist (which we
don't seem to find in Alameda) but we are willing to attend other
denominations. We would like to find a church that is fairly
open-minded and spiritually tolerant. We're not interested in churches
that teach that the bible is the be-all-end-all and that everyone else
is wrong. Also important to us are the presence of young families and
(cross fingers) childcare during services. Are we asking too much?
Have any recommendations? We'd love to hear them!
Not interested in Hell and Brimstones
Although I don't attend either of these churches in Alameda, I have
nothing but good things about them
First: There is the ''Home of Truth'' on Grand street. They are a
liberal, I believe non-demoninational church that caters to all types of
people and beliefs.
Second: There is Immanuel Lutheran. The pastor there (Roger Bauer)is
FABULOUS, he is a wonderful musician and motorcycle driver with an open
mind and spirit.
Hope this helps.
Christ Episcopal Church
in Alameda has an excellent youth program and
there are lots of parents with kids. The congregation is predominantly
liberal and Episcopalians are fine about asking questions about the
bible. The church does have a traditional liturgy including a
confession and recitation of the Nicene Creed. However, there is a
monthly alternative service and the next one is Oct. 26 at 10:15 a.m.
Personally, I love the music and the food at the coffee hour is great.
Here's their website. http://christchurchalameda.org/
There are many Alameda residents who are members or attend
Unitarian Church of Oakland. Its at 14th and Castro, not far from the
Webster St. tube. Check it out at www.uuoakland.org. I hope you join
I have two recommendations for you. We attend Trinity Lutheran Church,
but don't let the ''Lutheran'' name thow you off. It's an excellant
church, very liberal, and the Pastor there is incredible. His sermons
feel like stories but yet you walk away from there feeling like you've
learned something pretty substantial. There are families with young
children there, and yes, they do have chilcare during the 10:30 service.
They have 2 services on Sunday mornings- the 8am service is shorter and
doesn't inlcude much singing. The 10:30 service has more singing
(several hmyns and a Choir anthem and organist) and childcare is provided
during that service. There is a Sunday School time for kids 3 and older
that starts at 9am. There is also an Adult Forum at that same time, but
parents who bring their kids for Sunday School certainly do not have to
stay for that. It's a great little church..located at 1323 Central
Avenue (corner of Central and Morton Street) You can check them
out on the Web at www.trinityalameda.org or call 522-5220 for more info.
I also provide evening childcare for the choir practice at the
Congregational Church in ALameda. they are a great church also, very
liberal. They are located on the corner of Chestnut St. and Central Ave.
I'm not sure what their Sunday service times are or if they have child
care during their services, but they are a very welcoming church.
Good luck in your search!
Try Alameda Spiritual Living Center
at here at Rhythmix
They have kid's activities - and they join the service at the end, have a
different musician each week, reception with food afterwards, and a
really great vibe. It's interfaith/new thought (like east bay church of
religious science, or Agape in LA) and very inclusive. My kid loves it.
I invite you to try the First Unitarian Church of Oakland, which is not
all that far from Alameda. A number of families who live in Almeda are
active here. And, there are LOTS of kids. Depending on the age of your
children, our Children's Chapel service at 10:45 might be great for them.
Our more traditional services are held at 9:30am and 11:30am.
Childcare/religious education is offered during worship for younger
children. Check out our website at www.uuoakland.org. You would be very
Hello, I'm currently looking for a church that will truly be a
spiritual home. I'm interested in a community that is strong,
positive, diverse (meaning a significant population of color, not
just a sprinkle), and has plenty of positive role models for both
me and my son. What I really don't want is anything that preaches
about the devil/satan in any way. I've had enough of that
I recommend checking out the First Unitarian Church of Oakland. They
have a growing community and are very committed to diversity. Their
website is http://www.uuoakland.org
My husband and I have been going there for six years now, and our
daughter has happily been participating in the young learner's program
for two years (since she was born!).
I am a member of New Spirit Community Church, and I'd like to invite you
(as well as the person who posted for a nondenominational church) to
come for a visit! The church is 8-years-old, and after a two-year
transition, Rev. Jim Mitulski has just started as our new settled
pastor. Services are held in the chapel of the Pacific School of
Religion (1798 Scenic Avenue, Berkeley). There are two services: Sundays
at 11:00 am and Wednesdays at 7:30 pm. The Sunday service sermons range
from congregants sharing a personal experience to discussion and
celebration of spiritual practices of all faiths (today the service was
about Rosh Hashanah and the Days of Awe, the music was traditional
Hebrew, and service ended with dancing in the aisles). Wednesday evening
is a meditative Taize Service, with candles and contemplative music.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions!
To those seeking churches, we also recently moved here and did the
church shop thing. We LOVE our church - it is St. Gregory's of Nyssa Episcopal Church in
San Francisco. Yes, it's in the city, but it's only about 15 mins to
drive there on Sunday morning (plus then you can enjoy the city, since
you've paid the toll anyway). It is a very warm, friendly, inclusive,
diverse, socially active, spiritually fascinating community. Very open
minded and creative with the way that they worship. Everybody
participates as we ''create the liturgy together'' (kids are especially
honored members of the congregation). It is an Episcopal Church but it's
not your Grandma's Episcopal church! Lots of East Bay people attend and
it's easy to park or take BART. We'd love to find some people to carpool
with from Berkeley!
My family is relatively new to the North Berkeley area, and we are
looking for a local church (preferably Christian/
non-denominational type) to join and have our two children baptized
at. My husband was raised Catholic and I Lutheran, but it is most
important that we find a congregation that has a liberal, inclusive
philosophy and strong social interest. We would appreciate any
recommendations you may have!
I go to a Christian church that meets in downtown berkeley at the Gaia
Center (Allston and Shattuck) - Christ Church of Berkeley. It is connected to the Presbyterian
Church of America, but it does not feel like it's a ''denomination''
kindof church. Very focused on serving the community and loving others.
There is also a sunday evening service at another location in Rockridge.
web site: www.christchurchberkeley.org
We're an interracial family (white parents, black children) in
the Oakland Hills, looking for active, progressive, family
friendly, racially diverse prodestant church in the East Bay
(preferably Oakland or Berkeley). We've visited a handful of
churches, but haven't found the right fit. Ideally, I'd like to
find a church that is VERY racially diverse, even where white
members are a minority (rather than a sprinkling of people of
color in a mostly-white congregation). And we'd like the church
to have an active, largish membership with lots of children
(where we can blend in semi-anonymously for the first few weeks
and later become more active in the church). Not too concerned
about denomination -- we prefer a traditional service but can
stand really contemporary music if the other needs are met.
Any suggestions for my tall order?
Check out Oakland Center for Spiritual Living.
It is a very
diverse non-denominational church with a fantastic minister,
Reverand Joan Steadman. The children's program is also very
diverse ethnically and has a wonderful minister leading that
program. The music is uplifting, the message is always inspiring
and it is a very welcoming community. They are located on Clarewood
Drive off of Broadway Terrace. Go to the 11:00 service on Sunday,
so your kids can participate in the childrens program. Google the
church and check out the website. I love this church!
Have you tried Epworth United Methodist church at 1953 Hopkins in
Berkeley? The only thing I can't guarantee is the anonymity
part---it's isn't huge and it is a pretty welcoming group. We have
an amazing pastor--you can listen to her sermons at
http://epworthberkeley.blogspot.com/ It is very supportive,
progressive, has a family feel, there are tons of younger kids, and
much diversity, though whites are not the minority. There are
several (5 or more?) interracial families, several black families,
several families with two moms, single folks, older folks, and did
I say, a ton of kids. I would say that *I* am in the minority
(white, middle-aged, married for ~30 years) and I like that! Great
music, traditional but not too. Come visit if you haven't already.
Worship is at 10AM on Sundays. Feel free to email me if you have
You may have already tried our church -- Epworth United Methodist
in North Berkeley on Hopkins -- and thought it too white, since it
is predominately white. But the energy at Epworth is fantastic,
especially (right now) around the issue of race and religion. We
are conducting conversations with each other about the experience
of race and religion in our church community and attempting to come
to terms with the widespread racial segregation in churches and our
community's response. We are very active in support of LGBT people
as well, and home to quite a few mixed race couples. If you
haven't yet checked us out, you might want to give it a try. Very
friendly, very welcoming, very oriented toward justice and toward
supporting our kids. Right now the pews are a bit sparsely
populated due to summer vacations, and our pastor won't return for
several weeks. But come by, we'll be glad to see you.
working toward true diversity
Check out St. Augustine's Episcopal Church
at 29th & Telegraph.
It's predominantly, but not exclusively, African-American. We are a
caucasian/asian couple and we felt very welcomed there. We got
married there so it's very near and dear to my heart! (We stopped
attending when we moved too far away to do so). It is a gorgeous
church with wonderful, friendly, progressive congregation.
Please come visit our parish, St. Augustine's Episcopal Church in
Oakland (http://www.staugepiscopal.org/). St. Augustine's is the
only majority African-American parish in the Diocese of California
(the Bay Area diocese of the Episcopal Church in the U.S.). My
daughter and I are one of three families of white parents and
African-American children in this parish, and we have been warmly
welcomed by this church since we began attending in 2005. It is a
great blessing to our family.
It might be a little far for you, but Christ Episcopal Church in
Alameda has a large number of kids, reflecting a congregation that
is very diverse. The priest has an interracial family, as do many
others, and they are committed to LGBT families, as well.
Epworth United Methodist Church on Hopkins in Berkeley.
http://www.epworthberkeley.org/ It is a remarkably warm and
receptive place while still allowing for anonymity. It's very
diverse - many families with mixed race or same sex parents and a
fantastic children's program. You would ''blend'' in perfectly
while enjoying the bongos one week and fiddle the next.
Check out Plymouth UCC
at the intersection of Oakland and Monte
Vista in Oakland! Although it may be smaller than you were hoping,
it is a very diverse, warm and caring community--as a lesbian
couple with young mixed-race children, we have found a home here.
The music is great, too, with some fantastic jazz performances!
Services start at 11 a.m., and there is a good fellowship/light
They even like our rambunctious kids!
Hi all. Does anyone know of any church that would be either
non-denominational and/or just not biblical. I was raised
Catholic but I can't get myself to belive in the Bible. The
non-denominational churches I've found read the Bible, which means
I could not relate any less to that. Also, I have a child in
kindergarten and would love a church with cheerful services that
include the kids too, not the adults in one room and the kids in
another. I really am reconnecting with my spiritual/religious
side but I need to find a church we can both relate to. All my
gratitude to anywone with a recommendation. By the way, we live
in the Lamorinda area, so close to that is crucial. thanks!
Try the Church of Religious Science
- there's one in Montclair
just through the tunnel. I know tons of people who go there -
it's spiritual without being biblical... very positive and
recognizing the truth within all religions. Their website is
We have a church Alameda Spiritual Living Center
that does Sunday services here at Rhythmix that
has a kids program, and they are very similar to Religious
Science/New Thought, but even a little more inter-faith.
Check out either the Unitarian Universalist
progressive/social change nature) or the
Church of Religious
Science (strong new age/new thought positive focus). Both have
roots linked to Christian theology but typically draw from
several traditions and their sacred texts. The UUs are
non-dogmatic, lots of former Jews/Catholics plus atheists,
humanists, Buddhists and plenty of other spiritual seekers. All
Spiritual seeker at home with UUs, CRS, & Quakers
We live in the East Bay (Albany/Berkeley area) but have been members of
an ELCA Lutheran church in San Francisco for many years. For a variety of
reasons, we need to find a church closer to home. Does anyone have
recommendations for a church, preferably Lutheran and liberal-minded, but
we're open to other Protestant options, that has a sizeable number of
middle and high school kids, and engaging activities for them? Our
current church has very few kids in this age group and no activities for
them outside of Sunday School.
Well, it's not Lutheran, but I have to put in a plug for our progressive,
community-oriented, youth-friendly Epworth United Methodist Church in
Berkeley on Hopkins just east of MLK. You are certainly most welcome to
come and see if it suits! It is a warm and welcoming congregation. The
website is at http://www.epworthberkeley.org/
good luck in your search!
Try All Souls Episcopal Church
at Cedar & Oxford. Quite a few kids; youth
group with occasional evening and other activities; very liberal.
We love our church Church Without Walls
in Berkeley which has a great
high school and middle school ministry. www.nowalls.org for more info.
feel free to email me for more info. too.
I am looking for a liberal church community in the Lamorinda/Walnut Creek area and
haven't had any luck. When I say liberal I don't necessarily mean in the political
arena. I want to find a church that is accepting of diverse lifestyles and families,
where the message is acceptance and tolerance, where homosexuality is not a sin,
where people are accepted for where ever they are in terms of there struggle with
faith. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks.
I'd suggest visiting the Mt. Diablo Unitarian Universalist Church
in Walnut Creek. http://www.mduuc.org/home/home.html
I moved to Orinda last year and found a spiritual home at
St Stephens Episcopal Church
in Orinda. Our family are also very
liberal and wanted a welcoming inclusive community. We found it at
St Stepehns. It is very family friendly and welcoming. As you may
or may not know the Episcopal Church is currently going through a
crisis because it does embrace homosexuality and women priests.
And because of this the larger Anglican Communion has issued a
deadline to the American Episcopal Church to cease and desist (in
effect). We'll see what happens. However I can assure you that St
Stephens is a wonderful embracing community. Hope you come to
You should check out the Mt. Diablo Unitarian Universalist Church
in Walnut Creek! This sounds like it would be a perfect fit for
what you are looking for.
We started going there a few years ago with our children b/c it
was a good balance of our religious outlooks (he's agnostic; I'm
athiest), and we've stayed b/c we totally agree with their values
Their services are Sundays at 10:30am and there is always someone
there to answer your questions.
Their website is
This coming Sunday, June 10th, they will be having their annual
Flower Communion Ceremony, so there will be more kids in the
chapel than usual; there will also be a Lifespan Education lunch &
summer kick-off party after the service.
I hope this fits with what you are searching for.
I recommend that you check out my church, the Orinda Community
Church in Orinda. It is an open-minded, grounded, friendly
community that is welcoming to all kinds of people. A number of
years ago the congregation adopted an official ''open and
affirming'' statement, making it clear that they welcome all
regardless of sexual orientation, race, age, ability, etc. When my
family moved here from Berkeley, we found a great community at
As they say on their web site:
Orinda Community Church is a warm, intelligent Christian community
where you are encouraged to think for yourself.
At OCC you can connect with people, explore spiritual issues,
serve the community, and make a difference in a changing world.
OCC has a place for you.
Sunday services are 10 am. I'd be happy to tell you more if you'd
like, just contact me.
Hello, We started going to Epworth United Methodist Church in
North Berkeley and love the friendly, open attitude. It focuses
on being an inclusive church and very much is - my husband is
Jewish and there are same sex couples, etc. It has a great youth
program too which was very important to us (our children are 4 & 7
and the older one is in the choir) and it has a wonderful female
pastor. It may not be close enough for you but may be worth
visiting and seeing if it's a fit.
My husband attends the Orinda Community Church,
part of the United
Church of Christ. Their Web site is http://www.orindachurch.org.
They specifically say they are ''open and affirming'' and I
believe they have the tolerant and non-judgmental attitude you
seek -- my husband calls it a ''liberal intellectual'' church.
They are into political action, good works, and environmentalism
-- he's on the ''Green'' church committee. However, there's not a
lot of diversity within the church population itself -- mostly
white folks, honestly. There's spiritual diversity, though -- I'm
an atheist, and I've always felt comfortable there.
However, the associate pastor, who we loved, just left for the
East Coast, and they're in the process of hiring to replace her.
My husband says that some of the temporary pastors giving sermons
are not quite up to par, so don't judge the church by the temps!
We moved from SF recently and we really enjoyed going to
services at Grace Cathedral because I loved Rev. Jones' sermons
and sense of humor and we also enjoyed Glide Memorial
occassionally for the sense of community & uplifiting spirit
and music of the place. Can anyone recommend a Sunday service
in the East Bay that has some similarities?
Hi! I attend East Bay Church of Religious Science.
I find that
although it is not a methodist church, it is somewhat similar to
Glide. It has a great choir and music,nice community, the
messages/sermons are real life and humorous and it is very
diverse. They have 3 services on Sunday, 8:00, 10:00 and 12:00.
10:00 is usually the most crowded one. The first 15 minutes of
the service is a meditation, so if you rather not partake in that
you can arrive at quarter after the hour and be fine. The church
is located on the corner of 41st and Telegraph in Oakland, within
walking distance of the BART station, if you need that. Parking
is sometimes and issue, but you can park in the Mercedes lot on
40th and Telegraph if you want to (Sundays during services only)
I invite you to come visit Epworth United Methodist Church
Hopkins, above the Alameda, in Berkeley. Sunday services are at
10AM). It isn't as big as Glide or Grace but has a wonderful
spirit to it and the sermons are great! (My 22 year old son, who
just recently rediscovered the postive attributes of church,
describes Epworth as inclusive of all, intellectual, real world,
inspirational, positive...) You can hear past sermons at
http://epworthberkeley.blogspot.com/ and/or subscribe to a weekly
I'd like to recommend my parish in Berkeley,
All Souls Episcopal Church. The
rector has a vibrant message and a great sense of humor and this
permeates the congregation. Children are an honored part of the
community and every week a hands-on children's homily during the
service helps reinforce the messages they've learned in Sunday
School. A brand-new church playground is set to open any day
there and a new Associate Rector who will work with children and
familes will begin on September 1st. If you are interested,
September 10th will be a combination Rally Sunday (beginning of
the new Sunday School year) and playground dedication. All
Souls is located on Cedar and Spruce, just a few blocks up from
Shattuck Avenue. Hope to see you there!
Happy All Souls Parishioner
I'm looking for a radical church--I am open to the type of
spirituality, we're open to Christian, religious science, etc.
I do care that the language is gender inclusive, that the
theology is positive and affirming and non-orthodox. I'd like
to start attending church w/ my 2 year old daughter to have her
develop a sense of community, but many churches I've tried are
a little too staid or too orthodox for our tastes. Someplace
with really good music would definitely be a bonus. Thanks for
I love Quaker meeting, and an unprogrammed Quaker meeting is
about as radical as it gets in many senses: no minister; no
creed; unfortunately for you, no music (though our Meeting does
have a singing group that meets between meetings for worship).
We sit in silence and wait until one of us feels that the Spirit
has moved them to speak to all of us. The Quakers have
traditionally valued peace, equality, community, and simplicity.
My home meeting takes place on Sundays at 11 a.m.
at Berkeley Friends Church on the corner
of Walnut and Vine, diagonal from Peet's Coffee. There's another
worship at 9 a.m. but there's no childcare at 9, though, of
course, you could bring your daughter to worship. If you have
questions, I'd be happy to hear them.
If by ''radical'' you mean, open, progressive and non-dogmatic, with a
social justice tradition, then I would encourage you to try a Unitarian
Church. From www.uua.org: ''With its historical roots in the Jewish and
traditions, Unitarian Universalism is a liberal religion -- that is, a
religion that keeps
an open mind to the religious questions people have struggled with in
all times and
places. We believe that personal experience, conscience and reason
should be the
final authorities in religion, and that in the end religious authority
lies not in a book
or person or institution, but in ourselves. We are a ''non-creedal''
religion: we do not
ask anyone to subscribe to a creed.'' We are very happy attending
Church of Oakland, which has a wonderful religious education program for
intergenerational service option, and a very strong music program. (http://
Fulfilled as a UU.
Check out the First Unitarian Church of Oakland! It has all
that you have described.
Our church, Montclair Presbyterian (on Thornhill Drive in
Montclair) is as inclusive as they come. The church is open and
affirming in both language and spirit, and nontraditional in many
ways. There is a strong committment to social justice both
historically and in present day. It has a wonderful choir and
music program led by the conductor at the Woodminster Theater,
and uses a great children's education program, called Godly Play.
The pastor does great sermons, and has a beautiful voice herself
- she's a classically trained musician. I didn't grow up
attending church, and am very much at home there, and love the
community. You're welcome to contact me if you'd like more
I didn't see your original post, but I get the sense that you
may be looking for a church like Trinity United Methodist
Bancroft at Dana in Berkeley. We are a church committed to
social justice and spiritual renewal. A great eclectic
congregation with a ministry to the homeless and a ''reconciling''
stance toward all those who have traditionally been excluded
from organized religon. Education program for children and
youth/teen group as well. Would love to have you join us! a.
Editor Note: Additional responses to this question are on the
Jewish Congregations page.
Hi there -
I am a Catholic who is in search of a more bible-based church
and church community in Alameda/Oakland. I am not interested in
a bible-thumping evangelical congregation - just a church like
the Jehovah's Witnesses that spends time focused on the bible -
no politics, just teaching and reflection. I'm also interested
in the church community - i.e a community that actually
socializes together as opposed to the Sunday mass only
interaction. I will be exploring the local Jehovah's Winesses
group as well so any opinions on that will be appreciated also.
Hi--I would check out any Seventh-day Adventist church--I don't know the east bay churches
specifically but Adventists do tend to be focused on Bible study and community, not politics
or fire-and-brimstone. They've always been friendly and welcoming in my experience, and you
might really like the pre-church adult ''Sabbath school'' study time which usually starts
around 9:30am. The only thing is they worship on Saturdays so if you show up on a Sunday
there won't be anyone there!
A sometime SDA
I can relate to your interest in finding a Bible-based group that doesn't ignore each other
after Sunday. I am a member of the Temescal congregation of
Jehovah's Witnesses on Racine at
59th St. in North Oakland. It is a wonderful congregation that I just love (and I have been
to several different churches and JW congregations throughout the country). Very friendly
and social, and very knowledgeable about the Bible. There is no back-biting and everyone is
genuine and loving. Obviously, you can attend a service on your own, but feel free to
contact me if you would like to visit the congregation with me. Best wishes!
I attend a meeting which is actually not associated with a regular church and is
non-denominational but bible based. It is held in the back room at Denny's in El-Cerrito on
the first Saturday of every month. Usually people who attend get there at 6pm and order a
meal---some people just show up for the meeting at ~ 7:30pm if they'd already had dinner. It
is a group of about 20-25 people but a great atmosphere and very international as well. Also
good singing and fellowship. You should visit and see if you like it. People from different
churches attend so they may also be able to give you recommendations for the regular Sunday
services that they attend. Hope you find what you are looking for.
As one of Jehovah's Witnesses myself I can tell you that the Bible and it's use is the
entire focus at the meetings. During the Bible discussions the congregation is encouraged to
look up and follow along in their own copy of the Bible as scriptures are being read. For
example during Sunday meetings there is a talk based on a scriptural theme. A recent one was
''How to Express Love in a Lawless World,'' a verse by verse talk of how we can apply 1
Corinthians chapter 13 in our own lives then a Bible based discussion with audience
participation- recent topic was about serving God in your youth. A Bible aid was used which
cited over 65 different scriptures. There are also other Bible study groups that meet during
the week. Jehovah's Witnesses associate with one another a great deal not only at the
meetings but we like to get to know one another and encourage one another. We are fairly new
to our congregation and just this week we were invited out to lunch by a few we hadn't
gotten to know that well. The congregation just recently organized a ''family day'' for the
fall and we were just at a kid's party thrown for the kids in the congregation. I'm also
glad to know Jehovah's Witnesses are the same all over the world that no matter where I go I
would be as welcome as I would be in my own congregation. My husband and I are big travelers
and I can tell you that no matter where we were in the world we were greeted with open arms.
I hope that gives you some idea about Jehovah's Witnesses and answers some of your
questions. If you have others feel free to contact me.
If you're open to a church in Berkeley, I'd like to recommend
New Church Berkeley
(meets at the Baptist seminary chapel near
peoples park). The website is
http://www.newchurchberkeley.org/welcome.shtml. The primary
focus of the church is the Bible, mainly Jesus - without
imposing the American Christian culture. There is a vibrant
multi-cultural community and lots of events for the purpose of
getting to know other people (see the Calendar on the website).
First Presbyterian of Berkeley
on Channing near Telegraph is a
Christian church with a Bible focus. I like all of the pastors
and the teaching is solid. While it's a big church it has great
programs for families and kids and even college students. They
have morning services that are more traditional and an evening
service that is more contemporary-a band plays. They also have
dinner after the evening service, which is a nice way to meet
people and not have to cook one day a week :) Also, they have a
mother's group that meets on Friday mornings during the school
Hi! My husband and I attend First Pres Church of Berkeley, which can
feel a bit big,
but we have found a great community there.
Other churches I'd recommend:
All Nations (Oakland)--smaller, good place to check
City Church (SF)
Hope that helps!
Come check out my church, Church Without Walls,
in West Berkeley.
The sermons are always Bible based and we have a strong sense of
community. It's the first time in my life that I feel like my
church is my family. It's a casual service with lots of singing,
a sermon, communion, and prayer. We meet on Sunday evenings, 5
pm, at the Finnish Hall--1819 10th St, between Deleware and
I'd like to join a Bible study in the Berkeley area that takes an
honest seeker's attitude. I'm a Christian and do not attend
church, nor do I want to be constantly prodded within a group
setting to do so. I simply want to read the Bible. Not ''as
literature'', from an academic POV, but as spiritual teachings and
as ''the greatest story ever told''.
I've recently been energized by the new findings on the Gospel of
Judas, but my motive is not to dis the institutionalized gospels.
Is there a Bible study group out there for me?
seeking real discussion
You should look into Community Bible Study. There is a rather
large group that meets on Wednesday mornings at First Covenant
Church in Oakland. Check out their website at
http://www.communitybiblestudy.org/ for more locations. It is an
interdemoninational study of the Bible on a book-by-book basis.
I, myself, am not currently involved, but I have many friends who
*love* it. Since there are men and women from different
churches, the topic of church attendance does not really come up.
There is a structure to the study where you read the passage
during the week and answer questions, you discuss with your
group, you hear a lecture and then you read a commentary, so it's
4 presentations of the passage each week and some will be more
helpful to you than others. There is an emphasis on listening to
one another and not arguing about interpretations. It may be
just the kind of study you're looking for. There is also a
fabulous children's program for babies - preschool. They do not
meet in the summer, but will begin again in September
There's a newly developed Bible study called ''Living the Questions'' that takes
the kinds of questions we all ask (and that fundamentalists basically deny). See
www.livingthequestions.com for a description of the series and see if it addresses
kinds of issues you are interested in.
Epworth United Methodist Church will be starting a number of different groups,
meeting in homes, that will be working through the series. You can call the church
office during the week at 524-2921 to find out about a group you could connect with
Bay Hills Community Church in El Sobrante offers a variety of
Small Groups (Bible Study). One of them might be what you are
looking for. I've been going to church regularly there after
not going to church in years (even though I am a Christian). It
is a friendly, casual, non-confrontational atmosphere. Everyone
is welcome, whether they are seekers, believers, or what. There
is no pressure to get involved or make commitments. I was
always fearful of that when attending new churches or Bible
Study groups, too. I am not currently in a Small Group, but in
one that I attended last year there were a couple of people who
came who said they were just checking it out. That was fine.
The level of involvment is left up to the individual.
Even though you aren't usually a church-goer, you might want to
check out the church first, then decide on a Small Group. But
you can just go directly to a Small Group if you'd rather. I am
including a link to the directions to the church just in case.
The rest of the website is being worked on, so some of the info
is outdated. The current Small Groups are not listed on the
site, but I have a paper handout that describes the various
groups. You are welcome to have if you'd like. - Susan
Hello, I have read some of Elaine Pagel's work about the
recovered Gospels of Thomas and am wondering if there is a
church or a study group in the Bay Area that focuses on these
writings? A recent Harper's Magazine article about these
gospels sparked my interested again and I thought I'd post to
see if there are any like-minded folks?
Thanks very much.
seeking fellow Thomas gospel folks
Funny you should ask this question this week. On Sunday, one of the scriptures quoted in the Northbrea Community Church Sunday service was from The Gospel of Thomas. It's not the first time either, and indeed one of the things that drew me to Northbrea was that Ron Sebring, the miniser at Northbrea, as well as other congregants understand the significance of The Gospel of Thomas and seek to learn from it. I'm the storyteller for the children's sermon during services, and I've quoted from it too. Right now there are no study groups specifically devoted to that The Gospel of Thomas, but it is a subject that some of us are talking about--also prompted by the Harper's article. I don't think it would be too hard to get a study group going. Indeed, I'd help you. Carolyn
We want to find a church that has a good family friendly commnity
feel and is tolerant of differeces and allows a bit of SPACE for
spiritual journey. Three we are considering are UU in Kensington,
First Presbytarian and First Congregation. I have been to church
twice in my life so as you can see, this is a huge and scary
step. Any thoughts and recommendations you can give, before I
muster the courage to actually go in to observe, would be great.
looking for god in all the right places
All Souls Episcopal Church Berkeley
Church Without Walls Berkeley
First Unitarian Church of Oakland Oakland
Montclair Presbyterian Church Oakland
Northbrae Community Church Berkeley
Plymouth United Church of Christ Oakland
Skyline Community Church Oakland Hills
St. Augustine Church Oakland
St. John's Presbyterian Church Berkeley
Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley Kensington
Looking for recommendations for a Christian church in the East
Bay with a diverse membership, including a mix of blacks and
whites. Would like a moderate church (i.e., NOT fundamentalist
in ideology) with an active, vibrant congregation and a good
children's program for our mixed family. Any suggestions are
Epworth United Methodist Church Berkeley (2 reviews)
My husband and I (and our 10-month old boy) are looking for a
spiritual, inclusive, and friendly church in the berkeley/el-
cerrito area. Good music and great sermons a bonus. We've tried
the Unitarian in Kensington/El Cerrito but it wasn't an exact
fit for us, focusing a bit more on socio-political rather than
spriritual issues (totally my opinion, it was great in many
other ways). We've read through suggestions on the website and
just aren't sure how current some of the recommendations are,
so we would welcome some new input. We live in Albany, so
proximity is a plus. Thanks.
Albany United Methodist Church Albany
All Souls Episcopal Church N. Berkeley
El Cerrito United Methodist Church El Cerrito
Epworth United Methodist Church Berkeley (4)
First Unitarian Church of Oakland Oakland
Northbrae Community Church Berkeley
Northminister Presbyterian El Cerrito
St. Alban's Episcopal Church Albany (2)
St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church Berkeley
Trinity United Methodist Church Berkeley
hi. i am looking for a spiritual home for my family that will
feel like home for all (3) of us. yes, i have been reading
previous posts about various churches & synagogues (including
albany united methodist, epworth um, st. paul lutheran, & unity
church). we've gone to a few places, including the unitarian
universalist church in kensington (the one with the impolite
acronym) & unity, and will be hitting albany um next.
unfortunately, so far we haven't really FELT it, ya know what i
before i go on, let me just introduce myself & my family: we
are an interracial & interfaith (african american/lutheran &
white/jewish) lesbian couple raising a teenage girl (also
african american). we've been together 9 years & moved here
from the east coast (i'm sure that by now some people will have
recognized us!). we used to go to glide in sf and that was
fantastic, almost too good to be true, but way, way too big. we
like methodist churches, but really, denomination is the least
of our concerns.
our most important consideration is that the place be lgbtq-
friendly. can't walk through the door if it's not. since that
is not hard to come by in the bay area, our REAL CONCERN is that
it be racially/culturally mixed, specifically african american &
IDEALLY, it would also have a great range of ages, with a ''cool''
teen program, lots of community events and a warm, caring
congregation, be socially conscious, have great, stirring
(gospel or gospel-ish) music, a charismatic spiritual leader and
a lovely physical setting (think: committment ceremony), be
large enough to offer true diversity yet small enough to feel
like family, be open to exploring/sharing different religions,
have lots of interracial families & lgbtq families, not be
too ''preachy'' and be located in el cerrito.
okay, okay, i know you're saying ''yeah, right,'' but please,
PLEASE tell me i'm not crazy to expect at least some of this
under one roof!
we're open to suggestions (other than the churches already
mentioned) that DEFINITELY include SIGNIFICANT racial diversity,
openness to lesbian families & caring atmosphere. we're also
open to any suggestions about meeting other interracial lesbian
families (any & all cultures, though again, african american is
particularly sought, as it seems harder to find an african
american community we feel comfortable with in the bay area).
thanks for taking the time to read this long post. :)
Northminister Presbyterian El Cerrito
St. Columba Catholic Church Oakland
Trinity United Methodist Church Berkeley
Searching for an upbeat church with good gospel music
and lots of young families. I love the music at glide
but it's too touristy and too inconvenient. My perfect
church would be local with good music and ''practical''
sermons. It would have lots of young families and good
youth programs. We'd like to make community connections.
Please help - I'm discouraged with the same ole,
traditional stuff and congregations of only elderly.
Recommendations received to this inquiry:
Epworth United Methodist Berkeley
Greater St. Paul Baptist Church Oakland
St. Columba Catholic Church Oakland
St. Paul Lutheran Oakland
Unity Church Richmond
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