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Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley (Kensington, CA)

Berkeley Parents Network > Reviews > Religious & Spiritual > Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley

Aug 2010

Re: A Worship Service Designed for Toddlers and Infants?
The Unitarian Universalist Chuch 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 children.

For more information, call the minister of religious education, Chris Holton- Jablonski at (510) 525-0302 ext. 304. UU mama

Nov 2010

Re: Catholic looking for something different
I'm also a catholic who needed something more/different. I found a wonderful religious home at UUCB (Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley) which inspires me and feeds my spirit. We don't have a religious Dogma, we have principles and our members come from many different faith traditions. I found it a very welcoming community and our whole family attends Sunday service. We have many women ministers as well. Check us out: religion.html seportil

I was also raised Catholic, and I tried for a couple of years after leaving home to find a home in the Catholic church, but without success. My reasons were similar to yours. I have found instead the Unitarian Universalist church. I go to the Unitarian Universalist Church in Berkeley (in the Kensington hills), but there is also a church in Oakland. The UU church does not espouse a particular doctrine. The UU church has its roots in Christianity, but it is no longer a Christian church. It draws people from lots of different faiths. Instead, the idea is to provide a place for people to gather in a religious community and to pursue their own sense of spirituality. There are weekly sunday services which include music, a sermon, and a story. It does feel like church, but it is very different from a mass. The church also offers many other opportunities to get involved: religious education classes for kids and adults, book groups, Thursday night suppers, various committees...Check out the website.
Jan 2010

Re: A place to come together spiritually as a family
Unitarian Universalism: I love UUCB, and my 5 yr old daughter and I attend most every Sunday as we have since she was two. For us it's a great supportive community where I don't have to check my brain at the door. I can bring it right on in with the rest of me and enjoy conversations with people from all sorts of religious traditions, including followers of Christ's teachings, Jews, and devout atheists. It's not a complete free for all- it's never OK to hurt anyone. There's a quiz at that's helpful, but here are the basic beliefs: We, the member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association, covenant to affirm and promote The inherent worth and dignity of every person; Justice, equity and compassion in human relations; Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations; A free and responsible search for truth and meaning; The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large; The goal of world community with peace, liberty and justice for all; Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

If you're interested in coming, send me an email- I'd be glad to accompany you. Melissa

March 2009

Re: Church for middle age and beyond?
If you're anywhere near Berkeley/Kensington you've got to take a treck up the hill to UUCB-

We're a multigenerational congregation. We celebrate all aspects of human experience. Another poster mentioned the long history of their denomination. Many churches boast humanitarian members- but as far as I know UU is the only place where you are recognized as having your own beliefs and welcomed in joyful celebration.

We're a little on the traditional side, as far as our services go- with a beautiful organ, grand piano, and choir, but you may find yourself seated next to a humanist, an agnostic, a christian, a jew, all together under one roof: Loving and accepting eachother regardless of labels.

Get a blue mug if you'd like folks to welcome you, or a ''plain'' one if you want to hang back and just take it all in. melissa

May 2007

Re: Churches with kids near El Cerrito?
I'm a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley (UUCB)(actually located in Kensington, off of the Arlington, at the top of Moeser Lane, so practically in El Cerrito). I think it's a great church and very family friendly. I don't have children of my own so I'm hoping you'll hear from others but I have taught in the religious education program at UUCB and there is a lot of thought that goes into the curriculum. I was involved with the ''Coming of Age'' program for young adolescents at the church and there seemed to be a nice sense of community among the youth in that group. There is a part-time religious education minister who oversees these programs and is creative about trying new ways to help integrate children into the services. You might want to check it out.

The Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley (UUCB) is a terrific, family-friendly church community with remarkably thoughtful classes and fun activities for kids. My 9-year-old, who has been attending for a couple of years, actually asks to go to church. We are a family that comes from mixed religious heritages and have found UUCB to be a warm, inviting, and comfortable place for each of us to expolore our own personal sense of things. The ministers at UUCB are extraordinary, the services are creative and relevant, and the youth minister's ability to spin a yarn is legendary. For any family of any faith seeking a really great church that welcomes all, UUCB just can't be beat. --Not a member, just an enthusiastic mom
Jan 2006

Re: Family friendly church for a newbie
Hi, I would recomend the UU Church of Berkeley in Kensington. I am the Education Assistant there and we have a brand new Minister of Religious Education. The children and youth education program is growing. My daughter is in the 1st grade and loves the program. She also sings in the youth and children's choir.

UUCB has a congregation with a diverse range of spiritual beliefs and backgrounds. Many come from other faith tradtions, some from atheist or agnostic backgrounds and we even have a few life-long UU's. There are a number of adult education offerings. The congregation also has a strong commitment to social justice.

If you would like more information, I would be happy to talk with you more. Feel free to contact me off list. Margaret

Sept 2004

Re: I think I want to join a Unitarian Universalist Church.
I've only been to the UU church in Kensington (it gets called the Berkeley church, though there is also a smaller group that meets in actual Berkeley) and I would say that you would fit right in without discomfort. I'm guessing the participants are mostly from a variety of Christian and Jewish backgrounds. The Religious Education program is very active (they are in the process of searching for an additional minister whose main activity will be promoting this aspect of the church) and there are a lot of kindergarten age children. Also, I would say that quite a few members are atheist; there is even a special meeting for UU atheists at least once a month if not more often. It's not that they don't mention the bible during services, but it's seen as one of many sources of wisdom. The church tends to be politically involved (on the left side of the spectrum), which to me is a very good thing. There are lots of visitors, especially this time of year when the childrens' programs are revving up, and they have an area set aside where church members answer visitors' questions at the end of services. There is a children's choir, a large adult choir and a lot of activities to become involved in. Liz

Hello, We just joined the Unitarian Univalist Church of Berkeley. It is located in Kensington at One Lawson Road. We have been UU for the last 5 years (since our daughter was born). We lived on the Peninsula and were members at UU Fellowship of Redwood City. Our daughter loves the RE program at Berkeley and we ultimately chose UUCB because Mollie loves it so much. They have just started a children's choir and the mother who is leading it has a five year old daughter as well. It is a fairly large congregation and fairly diverse. While our family is pagan/goddess centered I know they have a Devout Atheists group that meets the 2nd Sunday of the month. They have an incredible offering of adult education both on Sunday mornings and during the week. It is a very active congregation. We also like the 3 minsters at UUCB. My partner is in seminary at Starr King School for the Ministry here in Berkeley, which is Unitarian Universalist. There are a number of Starr King students at UUCB. Their web site is very helpful and can give you a more detailed picture of their programs and activities, Please feel free to e-mail me if you would like more information or want to set a time to talk on the phone. Best of luck, Margaret
Dear ''Searching'', I am a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley (UUCB), which is actually off the Arlington in Kensington. I am sure atheists would be welcome in any UU congregation, although I only have personal experience with the two in Berkeley. UUCB sponsors many paths to spiritual growth, including lectures, discussion groups, and meditation as well as very inclusive worship services. There is a group called ''Devout Atheists'' that may be of particular interest to you. We have a religious education program and a small children's choir. I hope you'll come to check us out. A good way to start is with the Sunday service at 10:45. After the service, look for the Welcome corner, where you'll find someone who is waiting to answer your questions. Or just ask anyone! See also Elizabeth
I have been a member of the UU Church of Berkeley for 4 years, and absolutely love it as a place to nurture my own spirituality and to raise my child! (I have not attended the other UU churches in the area, so I can't speak to their programs). I think you'd be quite comfortable there as atheists (there are many other atheists there, and while a ''higher power'' may be referenced at services, it is more loosely spoken about as the power of community, connectedness, interdependence, etc.). The programs for children at the church are really taking off right now: the congregation just voted to call a third minister specifically dedicated to Religious Education; a nationwide search is being conducted and that person will start in Fall 2005. A parent and longtime member of the choir has formed a children's choir. The childcare during Sunday services, for ages 0-4, is high quality, with a stable core of paid professionals who have worked there for years (my almost 3-year-old LOVES it!). The formal Sunday School programs start with a pre-K group at age 4- 5 and continue up to a high school youth group for grades 9- 12. You would be welcome to look at the curricula and talk to the teachers if you have any questions about what is taught (I taught the 4-5 year olds for 2 years and it was a wonderful experience). And, all this is in addition to two wonderful co- ministers (Bill and Barbara Hamilton-Holway), a top notch organist, music director, and choir, and many other programs offered on Sundays and other days of the week. What can I say-- some folks don't think UU-ism is a ''real'' religion but I think it's a fabulous choice if want a spiritual community without being forced into specific beliefs. Look me up if decide to attend UUCB and we can chat! (BTW, you can attend for years without being pressured to ''join,'' although most long-time attenders do join or at least pledge.) Good luck in your search! Cheri
Nov 2001

Re: children's choirs
Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley (1 Lawson Road in Kensington) has a new music director who directs the adult choir and the children's choir. The UUs always sing a great variety of music. I was very impressed with how well the kids sang this Fall after only a few weeks of lessons. I think the children's choir practices on Thursday evenings. The church also offers catered meals for a community dinner on Thursdays so you could eat there too (there is a charge for the meal). Lissa

August 1999

Both UU congregations in Berkeley are wonderful, the one on Cedar and the one in Kensington which they call "Berkeley" because they don't wish to go to the acronym of "First Unitarian Church of Kensington" but secretly are known with the affectionate nickname of "the F____ church"! Everyone knows which one that is! The 930 am Sunday philosophy discussions are often very good with people like Huston Smith giving talks. Both churches are involved in justice issues & have active & friendly congregations.
Christine 8/99

The First Unitarian Church of Berkeley in Kensington has an excellent Music Director--Eric Howe. He happens to be my voice teacher! I'm not familiar with the rest of the church programs, since I haven't attended the church (although I have sung at a service a couple of times). But I know that the music program is very active, and that was one of the things that you mentioned wanting. Good luck!
April 1999

I grew up in a Lutheran household, though I am not attending any church at this time. One church that you might be interested in if you haven't been exposed to organized religion and are looking for more of the spiritual and community aspects of religion is the Unitarian Church in Kensington. The church sends out a newsletter from time to time, and I know a member of the congregation. What I gather from reading the newsletter and talking to the member of the congregation is that the church is more about bringing people together and breaking down barriers than it is about worshiping a god. I do not believe that you would find _any_ kinds of biases at the church. My impression is that it is church and community that embraces everyone.

You might check out the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley located at 1 Lawson Road in Kensington. They welcome diversity, and they have quite a comprehensive Religious Education program for kids of all ages. They have a web page that gives some general information:
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