First Unitarian Church of Oakland
Hi! I'm a member of First Unitarian Oakland. A good person to contact is Rev. Sheri Prudhomme at the church. She runs Chalice Camp in the summer for one week and the teens o four local congregations can be CITs. She would also know if there are other things to plug your teens into.
I have rented space at the UU Church in Oakland, corner of 14th and Castro. They have a big space where you can have dancing and tables and are not particular about what food you bring in. Seems you can be as noisy as you like on a Friday or Saturday night. Also, I have attended two parties at St. Albans in Albany where there was a dj/band and dancing. The size of their social hall might actually be better for a group the size you are considering. It's a pretty space and my friends who hosted the parties told me it was reasonably priced. Sounds like fun!
First Unitarian Church of Oakland usually has a "no rehearsal" Christmas pageant with lots of carol singing. It is super cute. Kids from the audience get to volunteer to be angels and sheep and all kinds of animals (it's a *very* loose interpretation on the nativity story). Very welcoming and fun and non-proselytizing.
First Unitarian Church of Oakland has a wonderful family- friendly Christmas Eve service. There is a "no rehearsal pageant" where kids and some adults put on mini- costumes to re-enact the Christmas story. Plus a beautiful reading and carols, too!!
Check out the Oakland Unitarian Universalist church. They check all of the boxes you listed.
I'm a member of the First Unitarian church of Oakland at 14th st x Castro and I HIGHLY encourage you to check us out. We have a great, embracing and active youth group, both ministers are women (one is openly gay), the congregation is justice-centered, all-faiths-and loves-affirming, with LOTS of lgbtq leaders and congregants. It's a wonderful place for so many of us who seek spirituality and community but not dogma. May you find what you seek!
Archived Q&A and Reviews
I run somewhere between atheist and agnostic and have a real bias against organized religion based on childhood experiences. Yet, i have found a community and a home at First Unitarian Church of Oakland. Unitarian Universalism has worked for me since there is no dogma, just a shared set of values. It is politically and socially progressive, values the use of reason and science as well as knowledge and experience gained by other means, and yes, is a place where we sing, read and contemplate life's larger questions. My fellow congregants identify as all over the map - Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Pagan, atheist, agnostic, yet we can come together in community to work through how we want to be in the world. Apart from the comfort and feeling of belonging, I am so encouraged by this model ... people of diverse beliefs coming together peaceably to face the challenges of life together. We often say ''we need not think alike to love alike.'' It is how I wish the rest of the world was. It is not for everyone, but for me it has provided all that is beneficial about religion without all the things that can so easily offend me about organized religion. We welcome all, including people like my former self who look panicky and hold their noses and have to sit by the door in case a hasty retreat is needed. Many, if not most of us started from that place. Love being UU
My family attends the Oakland Unitarian Universalist Church and we've found it to be a great ''community of thoughtful, caring people, who come together to consider life's big questions'' (I love your description!). Unitarians don't ask you to ''believe'' any particular dogma, but rather draw on many different traditions and practices to explore spirituality. I'm a Pagan and my partner is spiritual but not part of an established religion, and we have felt very welcomed at UU Oakland. The children's activities are great and promote UU values (see below) as well as understanding of different faiths and practices. Come check it out! http://www.uuoakland.org/
FYI about UUs: Unitarian Universalists are a ''non-creedal'' religion, i.e. you don't have to subscribe to a particular spiritual belief. The UU principles are: ''The inherent worth and dignity of every person; Justice, equality 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.'' Spiritual mama
Welcome to the First Unitarian Church of Oakland! You would fit right in!! Debbie
Re: Seeking liberal Alameda church
There are many Alameda residents who are members or attend First 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 us! Debbie
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 welcomed here. B Avalon
Re: Seeking a spiritual home
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!). anon
Re: Longtime atheist looking for spirituality
I would recommend you visit the First Unitarian Church of Oakland. You can find out more about them at www.uuoakland.org. You can learn more about Unitarian Univeraslism at www.uua.org 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
Re: Seeking spiritual community
We've been very happy attending the First Unitarian Church of Oakland in downtown Oakland, first when we were living in Albany and now that we live in North Oakland near Berkeley. Although we do have to drive to get there, the church is literally right off the 14th Street exit for 980, so it takes less than ten minutes to get there on a Sunday morning.
The congregation is very warm and welcoming and the ministerial team is strong. Unitarian Universalist churches vary in their worship culture - this one is formal enough that I feel I am really engaging in spiritual practice and not just going to a liberal political meeting, but at the same time very creative, open and oriented to social justice. Yesterday's Halloween/Day of the Dead service was both fun (costumes, music) and also deeply moving (honoring of the dead). Here's the website - http://www.uuoakland.org
UU Oakland Member
Re: Radical church or synagogue
If by ''radical'' you mean, open, progressive and non-dogmatic, with a strong activist social justice tradition, then I would encourage you to try a Unitarian Universalist Church. From www.uua.org: ''With its historical roots in the Jewish and Christian 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 First Unitarian Church of Oakland, which has a wonderful religious education program for kids, an intergenerational service option, and a very strong music program. (http:// uuoakland.org) Fulfilled as a UU.
Check out the First Unitarian Church of Oakland! It has all that you have described. Debbie
I don't know if this might be what you seek, but in my opinion the First Unitarian Church of Oakland provides a great non-religious religious environment. It embraces all spiritual beliefs and provides a setting for respecting and sharing different peoples' approaches to praciting their ''faith.'' And, it is extremenly child/family friendly. I would highly recommend you explore it. It is located at 685 14th Street. Anon
Have you thought about a Unitarian Universalist church? We've been members for years and particular appreciate it now that we are parents. From the UUA website (www.uua.org): ''With its historical roots in the Jewish and Christian 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.''
Many interfaith families have found a place in a UU church, as have many others, like us, who discovered the Christian churches we grew up didn't speak to the adults we became. UU's seek truth and meaning in the texts and traditions of many religions, including Judaism, and offer a place and a community where you can forge your own spiritual path. For children, it offers not ''Sunday School,'' but ''Religious Education,'' oriented toward learning about religion and spirituality without indoctrination in a particular faith. The church is also strongly oriented to social justice work, and has a long history of putting faith into action dating back to abolition, and including the modern civil rights movement and the current drive for marriage equality.
We happily attend First Unitarian Church in downtown Oakland, which has a great intergenerational service and a strong music program (uuoakland.org), but there are many others to choose from around the Bay Area (www.uuba.org).
Good luck with your search! Happy to be UU
You might find a Unitarian Universalist (UU) congregation right for you and your family. Religious education in UU churches helps children develop their own systems of belief and teaches them ethics and justice. Children are introduced to the values and beliefs of many religions (eastern and western) and taught to respect and gather wisdom from all. Most UUs started out Jewish, Catholic or Protestant. Some are still Christian or Jewish. Some are agnostics or atheists. Some believe in an earth- based spirituality. Some are Buddhists. Some are humanists. Some are theists. We all believe in the search for truth and a deeper meaning in life. It's a great place for children to learn to appreciate themselves and others -- and to find there are others around them with similar beliefs. I was raised in a very Reformed Temple and this has been a good fit for me. I belong to the UU church in Oakland (uuoakland.org). There are many more UU congregations in the bay area. (You can find them at uuba.org). Good luck with your search. Lisa
Looking for a church? Tolerant, family-friendly, social justice- promoting community? Try the Oakland Unitarian-Universalists on Castro at 14th St. in Oakland. The search for one's own truth, which grows and changes as we all do, can be supported without being dictated, in a beautiful and creative format. Wonderful music. A bit less heady/academic than the Kensington church. Bonnie
Re: I think I want to join a Unitarian Universalist Church.
To the person who is trying to choose a UU church: I have been a member of the First Unitarian Church of Oakland since 1992. I've been once or twice to the Kensington church and the Walnut Creek church, but I won't presume to describe them based on that. About the Oakland church, though: it is definitely hospitable to atheists. A healthy portion of our leadership is agnostic/atheist/humanist. That said, you'll find more ''God talk'' in our church than in many UU churches, but it's *very* inclusive. Our members include people from many religious backgrounds, and one of the things we do together is stretch -- that is, we all try to be able to hear messages arising from different traditions or couched in terms other than those we might choose ourselves, whether it's interpreting theist language in humanist terms, interpreting Jewish language in modern feminist terms, or interpreting Buddhist language in Western terms. We have a rich liturgy, including our ''embracing meditation,'' which some UU leaders have called one of the best ways of ''doing joys and concerns'' that they've seen. And I love the way our current congregational minister handles holidays with religious origins that many people may not be deeply familiar with, such as Day of the Dead. She makes them accessible to all, allowing them to enrich each person's sense of the spiritual without requiring background or belief within the originating tradition.
The Oakland church has been strongly involved in justice work for quite some time. Current projects that have originated from within the church include a mentoring program at a West Oakland elementary school, gotCOM (a project for helping low-income families get and learn to use computers), a get-out-the-vote project, an ad hoc committee on gay marriage, a partnership project to build a sustainable job base in our Transylvanian sister village, and probably many others that are off my radar at the moment. We are also involved with the Oakland Coalition of Congregations, which combines the efforts of many churches for social justice projects of shared interest.
Our religious education program for children (there's one for adults, too) teaches about world religions among many other curricula, including a wonderful curriculum on sexuality issues for middle-school-age students (taught outside Sunday mornings and therefore optional, but as a graduate of its predecessor program, I'll say it's one of the best things that could happen to an adolescent in terms of learning effective communication about intimacy and having the information and support to make good choices). We have a children's choir, co-led by our wonderful adult choir director and our Minister of Religious Education, herself a singer.
I do think you're barking up the right tree, and I hope to see you some Sunday soon. If you'd like to talk more about the Oakland church or UUism, drop me an email with your phone. Deborah
I believe First Unitarian Church in Oakland might be a good fit for your family. While many are not atheists at FUCO, the church is welcoming to all. People in the congregation come from many different religious traditions, not just Christianity. FUCO has two great ministers, one of which leads our very active Religious Education program. There is a great sense of community, and the folks in the congregation are really interesting people.
I've found the church has been a wonderful place for my 5 and 8 year old sons, as well as for me and my husband. I particularly enjoy the 10:30am Intergenerational Services, a half-hour opportunity for children and adults to worship together in a more child-friendly format. We have these services from September to mid-June, as well as wonderful 9:15am and 11:15am adult services and RE classes. The first 10:30am Intergen service and RE classes of the new church year are this coming Sunday, Sept. 19.
And there are 2 children's choirs, one for younger kids and one for older kids, as well as an awesome adult choir and other music-making opportunities. There is also a lot of energy behind social justice work.
I encourage you to visit and check the church out. There is more info on the web at http://uuoakland.org/, or you can call the church at (510) 893-6129.
Best wishes, Sima
We recently became members of the First Unitarian Church in Oakland, and think it is a wonderful place. Definitely good music and good sermons, a diverse congregation with all ages represented, and a wonderful, positive, loving energy. We live on the Berkeley/Albany border and can make it there on Sundays in 15 minutes, and found it was worth the drive. We especially love the intergenerational service at 10:30am, and the great religious education program. Sima
A parent recently asked whether there was a Unitarian Church in the area so, as I understand it, her child could explore religion, though the parents aren't religious. I'm a member of the First Unitarian Church of Oakland located at 14th and Castro Streets in downtown Oakland (close to the freeway). It's a wonderful and diverse community with many families who have children of all ages. The community is committed to certain liberal values and social justice activities. Unitarian Universalists affirm that wisdom is found in many world religions, as well as in spiritual and humanist teachings (see http://www.uua.org/principles.html for the UU's Principles and Purposes). Many members have backgrounds in various religions and some of the families have more than one religious background (my family is Jewish/Christian and we participate in an interfaith group through the church that tends to celebrate Jewish holidays together). The community is important to me because the services put me in touch with issues and ideas beyond my everyday life, and we've made good friends who share similar values. I'd be happy to answer any further questions and help anyone get oriented. The church's skeletal website is: http://uuoakland.org/index.html. -Penny
Does anyone have any strong recommendations/opinions about the the Unitarian Universalist Churches in the greater Berkeley area? We would love to find a warm, friendly, musical and active congregation. We have two small children (3 and 6) and are a Jewish/Protestant. couple. - thanks Elizabeth
We're members of the First Unitarian Church of Oakland (dowtown Oakland). We really like the congregation, and there is an active children's program (and lots of kids in your child's age range). It is definitely a progressive church and has been involved in a variety of social issues locally and beyond. If you want to ask other questions, I suggest you try it out some Sunday Kristine
If you're interested in a Unitarian church you might want to check out the First Unitarian Church of Oakland at 14th and Castro in Downtown Oakland. My husband, 16 month old daughter and I have been attending since January and have found it to be a dynamic, diverse, and welcoming spiritual community. They have great classes and activities for kids and a wonderful music program. The church is in a beautiful building that is a national historical landmark. Services are Sundays at 10:00 am, but we will be changing in September to two services at 9:00 and 11:00.
To the person interested in exposing children to religion and/or spirituality. You might want to check out the First Unitarian Church of Oakland, on Castro Street in downtown Oakland. It has a very open and accepting congregation which believes that All are worthy, All are Welcome Plenty of church members there would consider themselves agnostics - in fact, questioning seems to be encouraged. They believe in drawing spiritual knowledge and inspiration from many sources, not any single religion or ideology. There are lots of families there, many community activities, and they have a large religious education program for kids.