Header image alt text

First Unitarian Universalist Society of Albany

People Ask Us

 

  1. What do Unitarian Universalists believe?
  2. Are you Christian? Do you believe in God? Do you pray?
  3. Do you believe in spiritual beings? Do you believe in life after death?
  4. When is your Sunday service?
  5. What does the Sunday service consist of?
  6. Where are you located? How would we get there? Where can we park?
  7. Could we get there via public transportation?
  8. How do we enter the building? Is there access for handicapped persons?
  9. Would we be welcome? Are there any restrictions as to who may attend?
  10. May we bring children? Is there a program for children?
  11. How do people dress for the service?
  12. How large is the congregation?
  13. How may we get more information?
  14. What is the telephone number?
  15. May we speak to the minister?
  16. Are we expected to pay or contribute anything if we attend?
  17. Do you have a program of service to the community?
  18. What does the name Unitarian Universalist mean? Is there a shorter name?
  19. What does the symbol of the flaming chalice mean?
  20. Do you perform interfaith weddings? Same-sex weddings? Baptisms?
  21. Do you have programs for people with special interests: educational, spiritual, support groups and so forth?
  1. What do Unitarian Universalists believe?
    Unitarian Universalists are a diverse group with many different beliefs, practices and religious backgrounds. In general, most of us would agree with the following statements. We believe, along with many philosophers in the past, that the force of love is the greatest force for good between human beings. This and other beliefs are expressed in our “seven principles”. We believe in freedom of religious expression and tolerance of all people. We believe that our personal reason and conscience can be as valuable a guide to how to live our lives as dogma or past writings of any religion. We believe that one of the most important and rewarding parts of life is an ongoing search for Truth, which may be different for different people. We believe in the worth and dignity of each human being. And we believe that by joining together we can strengthen each other’s determination to live a good life and to serve humanity. Members are encouraged to develop their own philosophy, which may change as their lives evolve.VIDEO: “Voices of a Liberal Faith – Unitarian Universalists” [Top]
  2. Are you Christian? Do you believe in God? Do you pray?
    We are not “Christian”, although we respect many Christian values. We are a theologically diverse group with many different concepts of God; many of us do not believe in God, at least not in the same way as persons who belong to other, more traditional religions do. Although many do not pray to “God”, some of us do. Generally, we believe that there is power in focusing on one important idea that transcends the ordinary concerns in our lives. There is room for a full range of personal belief and expression. [Top]
  3. Do you believe in spiritual beings? Do you believe in life after death?
    Generally speaking, most of us do not believe in spiritual beings such as saints, gods, or angels. But we do believe in forces such as love, forgiveness, and charity, which can help us live better lives. While most Unitarian Universalists do not believe in life after death, there are many who do. What we do believe is that by living the best possible life, one can be at peace at death. [Top]
  4. When is your Sunday service?
    We have one service at 10:00 a.m. that lasts approximately one hour. Feel free to drop in. There is a “coffee hour” before and after the service, which is both a social gathering and a time to become familiar with some of our activities. It is a good idea to check the Calendar or the WINDOWS newsletter to be sure. In case of inclement weather, we will post closing information on local radio and TV stations.From mid-June to the beginning of September we have modified summer Sunday services, with the nursery open for infants and toddlers and one multi-age class for children. Check WINDOWS to find out what is scheduled. [Top]
  5. What does the Sunday service consist of?
    Sunday service usually includes a welcome; a call to celebration; a lighting of the chalice (the flaming chalice is a symbol of light we seek to bring to the world); a story for children; songs by our choir or other musical offerings; singing of hymns by the congregation; voluntary sharing of joys or concerns with the rest of those present; an offering of donations for the work of FUUSA, or, occasionally, for other causes; and finally a “sermon” by our minister or a guest speaker. From mid-June to the beginning of September we have modified summer Sunday services, with the nursery open for infants and toddlers and one multi-age class for children. Check WINDOWS to find out what is scheduled. [Top]
  6. Where are you located? How would we get there? Where can we park?
    FUUSA is located at the intersection of Washington Avenue and Robin Street, across from the University at Albany (SUNYA) downtown campus, formerly known as Albany State Teachers College. If you are coming from any distance, a good route is to take I-90.
    Directions to FUUSA
    From the West: Take the NYS Thruway to Exit 24. Continue on I-90 east.
    From the North: Take the Northway (I-87) south to Exit 1E. Continue on I-90 east.
    From the South: Take the NYS Thruway to Exit 23. Take I-787 north to I-90, go west on I-90.
    From the East: Take the Mass. Pike (I-90) to NYS Thruway Exit B-1, go west on I-90.
    Continuing from I-90: Take Exit 6 (Arbor Hill) onto Henry Johnson Boulevard. and continue to a stoplight intersection at Central Avenue. Continue straight through the light, and turn right about 20 feet later on Washington Avenue. In one block, go with right fork to continue on Washington Avenue. In about three blocks you will be facing our front door and steeple. The University at Albany Hawley Lot will be on your left at the corner of Robin Street and Washington Avenue. The weekday entrance of the church is at 405 Washington Avenue, facing the University buildings.
    Parking at FUUSA
    Parking is permitted on Sundays in the University at Albany’s Hawley Lot (on the corner of Robin Street and Washington Avenue) and the Thurlow Terrace Lot (on Western Ave.) Street parking is always available. [Top]
  7. Could we get there via public transportation?
    Yes; there are bus routes on both Washington Avenue (#12) and Central Avenue (#1); get off at Robin Street. Additional directions and map [Top]
  8. How do we enter the building? Is there access for handicapped people?
    Most people enter through the doors at 405 Washington Avenue, facing the University buildings. This will bring you into the lobby, with easy access to coat racks, restrooms, the office, information about Religious Education (Sunday School, for children), other information, and Channing Hall, where the coffee hour is held.When services are held in Emerson Community Hall, you can enter through the Washington Avenue doors and follow the signs left to the hall entrance. Latecomers will be directed to the back of the space by the ushers and seated during the designated intervals.
    Handicapped Access
    There is a handicapped accessible entrance in the front of the building on Washington Avenue and in the back at the West Street entrance. The doors are open on Sundays; other times please ring the bell, and someone will open the door for you. West Street is one-way and may be entered from Robin Street.[Top]
  9. Would we be welcome? Are there any restrictions as to who may attend?
    Yes, you are welcome, and will be welcomed, not just at the front door, and not just on your first visit. Feel free to drop in. As we say in our service, “Welcoming all free seekers of truth and meaning…” We have members from many widely differing religious backgrounds, as well as many who have little or no religious tradition in their background. [Top]
  10. May we bring children? Is there a program for children?
    Yes, children and youth are most welcome. When you visit, your children may attend the service with you or visit our Religious Education Program. Our program includes nursery care for infants, a toddler room for two-year-olds and classes divided by age or grades for older children and youth through 12th grade. Sunday morning lessons examine the themes of our Unitarian Universalist values: personal development and self esteem, world religions, our Unitarian Universalist heritage and famous Unitarian Universalists, decision-making, social justice, the interconnectedness of the web of life, and faith development. When you visit, please, stop by the Religious Education window in the main lobby, easily accessed from the main entrance on Washington Ave, and our Director of Religious Education, Leah Purcell, or a volunteer from our program will help you. Go to Children and Youth RE for more information on our Religious Education program.[Top]
  11. How do people dress for the services?
    People dress in whatever is comfortable for them. For example, a few men wear ties; others wear open-collar shirts and jeans. [Top]
  12. How large is the congregation?
    We have about 400 members, plus a number of “Friends” who attend functions at FUUSA but have not signed the Membership Book. Many of our members attend with their families; others come by themselves. On a typical Sunday, about 170 adults attend the service. [Top]
  13. How may we get more information?
    Please visit whenever you can find time. Information on any of the questions you may have as prospective friends or members is available during Sunday coffee hour at the membership table. If they cannot answer your questions, they will refer you to someone who can. Other information is available from various brochures available in the lobby. You may also call the church office, (518) 463-7135. In addition, other sections of this web site may contain the answers you are looking for. [Top]
  14. What is the telephone number?
    (518) 463-7135 [Top]
  15. May we speak to the minister?
    Yes! Please ask at the membership table, or call the office to make an appointment, or just walk up and introduce yourself after the service. [Top]
  16. Are we expected to pay or contribute anything if we attend?
    Contributions of money and other resources such as your time and unique talents are always welcome. Members are expected to make a financial pledge and are encouraged to volunteer in one or more activities. [Top]
  17. Do you have a program of service to the community?
    Yes; one of the most important aspects of Unitarian Universalism is to understand and be of service to: our neighborhood, our cities, our state, our country, and the world. Space does not allow details here, but if you are interested, ask; we have programs in which we try to serve all of the above. In addition, the Social Responsibilities Council coordinates many of our community service efforts. Take a look at their information on this web site and at the latest issue of WINDOWS, which contains information on upcoming events and activities. [Top]
  18. What does the name Unitarian Universalist mean? Is there a shorter name?
    Yes; we frequently shorten our name to “UU”. But we honor the longer name because it reflects our history. In the United States, the Unitarian movement evolved from Congregational Christianity. Unitarians believed that God was one, not three (Father, Son, Holy Spirit). But then Unitarianism evolved into a religion in which reason is equal to tradition in the search for truth. The Universalist Church believes that everyone can attain salvation, not just a chosen few. Over the years, to make a long story short, the two have merged at the national level, and in our case, at the local level as well. For more information, see History and Symbols of FUUSA. [Top]
  19. What does the symbol of the flaming chalice mean?
    The flaming chalice symbolizes the light that guides us in our spiritual and humanitarian path. The chalice design was originally used during WWII to identify Unitarians who were helping refugees flee Hitler. It became a symbol of risk, service and freedom that has since been widely adopted by many UU congregations. For more information see History and Symbols of FUUSA. [Top]
  20. Do you perform interfaith weddings? Same-sex weddings? Baptisms?
    Yes, yes and no. Unitarian Universalist churches are often the only resource available to an interfaith couple or a same-sex couple. For more information on weddings, see the page Special Services. The ceremony we perform for children is a child dedication, and again, more information can be found in Special Services on this website. Our minister performs Unitarian Universalist weddings, child dedications, etc., including same-sex weddings, but in general, not ceremonies of other faiths (i.e., Baptisms). [Top]
  21. Do you have programs for people with special interests: educational, spiritual, support groups, and so forth?
    Yes, depending on current levels of interest; we have had programs of Buddhist meditation; Pagan studies; book groups; varying Adult Education classes each year; a cancer support group; men’s groups; and small group ministry, which can include anyone who wishes to belong to a smaller group for sharing, learning and spiritual growth. More detail can be found under Programs, Councils, Committees, and Groups, and in the current issue of WINDOWS. [Top]