FAQ

This is where you can find the answers to commonly asked questions about the First Unitarian Universalist Society of Burlington, VT. If you can't find the answers to your questions, we hope you'll feel free to ask. Come on Sunday and ask someone who's wearing a name tag. If they don't know the answers, they can point you to someone who does. You can also contact us now. We love questions, so please ask.

General

How can I get involved? How can I get on the Newsletter mailing list?
How can I speak with a minister?
What are worship services like?
Who can attend?
What does it mean to become a member?
What are the expectations of membership?

Families, Children, & Youth

What is there for children and youth?
Do I need to register my children/youth in order for them to participate?
How can adults get involved in children's and youth's programming?
Do I have to be an official member or make a financial pledge to register my children in Religious Education?
Who can I contact with questions about Religious Education?

 

How can I get involved?

It’s easy. Just show up! All our activities are open to members and non-members alike. Show up for Sunday services and learn more about what is happening the rest of the week. Check out our weekly Enews Blast. Attend a Sunday afternoon Forum where you can learn about topics of interest to the congregation and get to know some of us better. Sign up for an adult education class, volunteer for one of our service projects, attend a committee meeting that interests you. Join one of our Small Group Ministry groups.

How can I get on the Newsletter mailing list?

If you would like to receive our newsletter, you can either complete a pew card in the Sanctuary, or you can send your name, address, and phone number to our Administrative Assistant at office@uusociety.org.

How can I speak with a minister?

If you would like to speak with our minister, the Rev. Mara Dowdall, or have a pastoral emergency, please call 802-862-5630 ext. 24. 

What are worship services like?

Our worship services reflect the diversity of our religious paths. Most often the services are led by our minister, but we also have guest speakers and trained Worship Associates leading services.

Once a month the services are multi-generational. People of all ages worship together in a high-energy service filled with music, participatory moments, and accessible messages. On other Sundays our children worship with us for the first few minutes of the service. A Reflection For All Ages is offered and then they go off to their Religious Education classes.

Most of our services are sermon centered. Sermon topics include personal spiritual growth, Unitarian Universalist history and identity, social justice issues, and life in community. The sermons may be enhanced by readings from philosophers, poets, op-ed columns, or scriptures from various faith traditions.

Most often we have piano music at 9:00 a.m. and organ music at 11:00. But, we may have a folk or jazz ensemble as well. The adult choir sings several times a month; the children’s choir monthly. Soloists and smaller vocal ensembles also add to the worship experience.

Who can attend?

Our facilities are handicap accessible and gatherings are free and open to the public. Dress is casual. Come as you are.

What does it mean to become a member?

Unitarian Universalist congregations are self-governing and self-sustaining. To become a member is to make a commitment to be part of the decision-making and the sustenance of our free religions community. We offer a New UU course several times a year. In those classes you will learn about the history and philosophy of Unitarian Universalism, and about how this particular congregation lives out our UU values. At the end of the class you will have the opportunity to meet with our minister and make your personal decision about membership.

What are the expectations of membership?

We expect you to be present in the life of the Society: to attend services, to find a smaller group to get involved with, to attend congregational meetings and vote. We expect you to be transformed by your membership, to grow spiritually. Our congregational covenant asks of all members that we give of our time and talent both to this congregation and to the larger community, and that we support this self-sustaining organization with a yearly pledge in the Stewardship Campaign.

What is offered for children and youth?

We hope that you will bring your children and youth when you visit the First UU Society! We have much to offer people of all ages.

Infants and Toddlers

Our nursery is open during both the 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. Sunday services. When you arrive, a greeter will direct you to the nursery, where our youngest ones are cared for by paid staff. Please sign your child in (staff will assist you) and alert staff to any special information they should know to keep your child safe. You're welcome to stay with your child in the nursery as long as you like. If you do leave, please tell the staff where they can find you in the sanctuary, in case they need to.

Preschool through Fifth Grade

For children in preschool through fifth grade, we offer a structured Religious Education (RE) program. Classes meet most Sunday mornings. Families with children in this age range may choose to attend either service. Class content varies only as necessary to accommodate the needs of enrollment and class groupings.

On most Sundays, children join the congregation upstairs in the sanctuary for the first portion of the worship service. Following a brief “Reflection for All Ages,” the children and their teachers depart for classes. Please escort your visiting children at this time and inform your child's teachers of anything they need to know to ensure your child's safety.

You are welcome to spend some or all of the remainder of the morning with your children in their classes to help them settle in. You may also return to the sanctuary for the rest of the service. Worship services conclude at 10:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. Classes conclude fifteen minutes later. Please enjoy a cup of coffee and meet your children at their classrooms when classes are dismissed.

Sixth through Eighth Grade Youth

The Religious Education program is only offered during the 11:00 a.m. service for this age group. Sixth graders, and some seventh and eighth graders start their mornings with the congregation in the sanctuary, departing for their classes along with the younger children. Most classes end at 12:15. The 7th and 8th grade classes have special schedules, which are provided to parents of enrolled children.

Ninth through Twelfth Grade Youth

For youth in ninth through twelfth grade, there is our “Yuuth” Group, which currently meets most Sunday evenings from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.. Visiting youth are most welcome at Sunday morning worship services and are encouraged to speak with the Director of Religious Education about getting involved in youth activities.

More Information about Religious Education

You will find more detailed information in the Religious Education section of this website. Our Religious Education Program Guide will probably answer more of your questions. If you would like a copy, they are available on the information table downstairs.

Do I need to register my children/youth in order for them to participate?

You do not need to register right away. When you first visit, however, please complete our Welcome Brochure, available at the information tables, so that we can respond to any questions you have about our congregation. This will also help us provide any special information about your children to the adults who lead their classes. If, after three visits, you feel you would like to attend regularly, please complete a registration form.

How can I become involved in the Religious Education Program?

Our Religious Education program is cooperatively led, requiring the active participation of both children and adults to fill it with life! However, we ask newcomers to take six months to first get acquainted with our community before choosing their Religious Education role. Then, you may  choose from a variety of roles that support the program. The best part is that when you lead and support others, you learn and receive at least as much from them as you give!

Can I register without being a member? What if I haven't made a financial pledge?

Our Religious Education program is open to all who resonate with our values. However, religious education is the largest program of our Society, serving about 200 children and youth. It would not exist without the financial pledges of members and friends of the First UU Society. We hope you'll consider membership, and certainly ask everyone to work toward generous financial support.

Who can I contact with questions about Religious Education?

Please contact Martha Dallas, Director of Religious Education.

Her office hours are:

Mondays: 1-5
Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays: 9-5
Phone: (802) 862-5630 x 28
Email: martha@uusociety.org