Seeking a Spiritual Community

Archived Q&A and Reviews

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A place to come together spiritually as a family

Jan 2010

My husband and I come from differing religious backgrounds and are looking for a place we can come together spiritually as a family, so that we can raise our daughter within some sort of a relaxed and unifying spiritual framework. I'm not sure what that would look like exactly, but would hope it to have a strong and supportive community, a focus on inclusion and unity, as well as provide a place to reflect and learn. We would love any input, ideas or suggestions from people who have been down this challenging road.

Try Unity -- in particular, the Unity of Berkeley (but if there is a Unity church closer to where you live, give that a try). Unity is a spiritual home for all beliefs. It focusses on the power of prayer/meditation. The Berkeley Unity church is eclectic and lively. There is a children's program, too. You can look at their website: They are located at Arch and Scenic. I just started going there in late November and I really like it, and I haven't been a regular church-goer, ever, until now (I'm in my late 50s). Becky

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

Agnostic seeking apolitical church

May 2008

I am at a point in my life where I think I need to get more in touch with my spiritual side. I'd also like to introduce my young children to the cultural traditions of Sundays at church and fellowship. From what I've read, including the archives here, it seems the Unitarian church is probably the best fit for me philosophically. However, I am really bothered by a lot of organized religion, particularly when churches get involved in politics. I wonder if in the liberal Bay Area there is a truly neutral congregation, or at least one that leaves politics completely out of worship. (And I mean all politics, inlcuding left-leaning politics.) I live in Berkeley but am willing to drive to other communities to find this, if it exists. seeker

I attend Church Without Walls ( and it may be a good fit for what you are looking for. We are a smallish church in West Berkeley, focused on loving God and our neighbors (locally and globally). Although I would say that folks in our church generally believe that politics are important to us, it is not part of what we do as a church on Sundays. I know that there are a variety of political viewpoints held by various members and that it is our faith that brings us together as a church--not our politics. We meet at the West Berkeley Senior Center on 6th and Hearst at 5pm on Sundays. You'd be welcome to come check it out. anon

You might like to look in to the Baha'i Faith . Baha'is believe in the common foundation of all religions, and don't participate in partisan politics. We have a nice community here in Berkeley. You can read more at There's a link for local contact info too. Michelle

Longtime atheist looking for spirituality

March 2008

I've recently experienced a radical change in my life and it has made me realize how much I could use a spiritual community and some more enlightened practices. I'm curious about buddhism and other meditative practices as well as a strong community, intellectual discussion and/or volunteerism. I am definitely NOT looking for a typical western ''one-god'' based practice. Anything come to mind? Something near Oakland is preferred. curious

Sounds like you are looking for the First Unitarian Church of Oakland! 14th & Castro, downtown. Debbie

I also was a longtime atheist and joined an Episcopal church 10 years ago. However, if you don't want a ''one-God'' practice, you could try the Unitarian Church. There's one in Oakland and their website is For Buddhist meditation, there's the Berkeley Buddhist Monastery and the Nyingma Institute, also in Berkeley. If you're willing to try Christian meditation, I'd recommend a taize service which is a beautiful candlelit program of chant. The best-known is on the first Friday of the month at Mercy Center in Burlingame. I think there may also be one in Berkeley at one of the seminaries. Good luck. nj

As an agnostic I too seek spirituality removed from theism and have found a very accepting and stimulating community in the Unitarian Universalist movement (NOT the same thing as Unitarian Christians). This community doesn't have any specific creed or writtings- meaning some people believe in god and some don't- and ideas from every text from the bible and quaran to contemporary fiction and poetry are all treated as good starting points for contemplation. The members come from a variety of religious and cultural backgrounds. Everyone is just trying to be their best self and have repect for the world and it's inhabitants. Here's a Wikipedia article on the movement and a link to a list of local UU Groups (I go to the ''Church'' in Berkeley):

There are lots of options, Buddhist-wise, in the bay area I recommend picking up a copy of Inquiring Mind for listings of sitting groups - and do go to as many dharma centers and sitting groups as you can to find the best fit for you. I' like going to the first Tuesday of every month at the Berkeley Buddhist Monastery when the monastics from Abhayagiri come down from Ukiah. On the other end of the spectrum, Orgyen Dorje Den is a GREAT Tibetan temple in Alameda (the Nyingma tradition) - it's the most beautiful I've seen locally - and they have a pretty active Sangha. Tibetan Buddhism is very catholic and mystical, so you might want something a little more straightforward. I've heard good things about Empty Gate Zen Center in Berkeley, I don't know anything about Berkeley Zen Center. I really like going to Ed Brown's one day sits at Green Gulch, he's my favorite Zen teacher. Try a bunch of different styles - the Buddhist magazines are a good resou! rce - the key is finding a teacher and a tradition that speaks to you. Good Luck! jennifer

I would recommend you visit the First Unitarian Church of Oakland . You can find out more about them at You can learn more about Unitarian Univeraslism at Best wishes. Rachel

First Unitarian Church of Oakland , corner of 14th and Castro, next to the freeway in downtown Oakland. I've been going for nearly 20 years now, and every time I miss a few weeks it feels like home when I return. We are atheists, Jews, pagans, ex-Catholics, ex-Protestants - you name it, you'll find it here. One caveat - you probably have to attend AT LEAST 3 times to get a real feel for it, as the services (speakers, music - choir, rock 'n roll band, bluegrass, piano, handbells, etc.) are VERY different each week. Sometimes it's meditative, sometimes it's rollicking! At the moment this is even more true than usual, as our minister is on sabbatical til fall, and we have lay speakers and guest ministers cycling through - but we've been through this before, and we actually enjoy it! It's a fairly large congregation, with 2 services and a short intergenerational service between the two, so the best way to find that community you're looking for would be to take an adult class, join a musical group, one of the committees (earth justice, etc.), and/or a covenant group - small affinity groups. Please come! UU fan

Buddhist meditation changed my life-it's so very intelligent, and based completely on ones experience, no dogma. Try the East Bay Meditation Center, which is in Berkeley.