What should I wear?
You'll see people in skirts or shirts, slacks, and neckties as well as in shorts, jeans, and t-shirts. Generally, most people wear “business casual”, but there are no expectations. Dress in a way that is comfortable for you!
When should I arrive and where should I park?
Whether you’re attending our Hillcrest or South Bay campus, we recommend that you arrive 15-20 minutes early, especially if you are visiting for the first time. Hillcrest parking is available in our Ace-managed lot at the corner of Arbor and Front (GPS: 298 W Arbor Dr, SD, CA 92103. Map). Parking during Sunday services is free. Should this lot be full, the parking attendant will provide you with information for complimentary parking in the nearby UCSD parking structure. The South Bay campus is located in a store front and has ample parking.
Where do I go now that I am on campus?
Hillcrest: You will find a map of our Hillcrest campus here. From the Ace parking lot enter the upper campus via either set of gates. If you are entering from the UCSD parking structure, there is easy access – via stairs - to the campus, and the Meeting House where our services are held. Please begin you visit at our Welcome Table to fill out a visitor card and receive a visitor packet and a name tag while you are greeted by friendly volunteers. Here you can also pick up a copy of our weekly newsletter The Window which details many of the exciting activities happening on campus throughout the week.
The Welcome Table is located on the lower patio. The Meeting House, where services are held, is a large building on the lower patio with glass doors and a large fountain right at the entrance. Ushers are available at the doors to greet you and answer any questions you might have.
If you have time before the service, the tables on the patio in front of the Meeting House are a great place to find information on groups and activities on campus. If it is raining, you can find the tables inside Bard Hall – the large social hall across from the Meeting House entrance, in the building known as the Welcome Center. This is also where Social Hour is held after service.
Next to the Meeting House, you will find the Book Room – a great source for new and used books and magazines and a place to meet new friends before and after service.
Restrooms are located off the upper patio, near the Welcome Table, and in the Welcome Center Lower Level. Gender neutral restrooms are located in the Welcome Center on the Middle and Upper Levels. Drinking fountains are in the Welcome Center, Lower Level, between the restrooms.
As you enter the building, you will be greeted by volunteers who will give you a name tag and a visitor’s packet and answer any questions that you may have. The door opens into the Social Hall, where there will be refreshments after services. The Worship Space is immediately to the left of the front door and has ample seating.
What Happens During the Service?
Content of individual services will vary – during the year we will have Child Dedications, Extinguishing the Flame for deceased members, Flower Communion, Coming of Age, Bridging, and special holiday and music services – and there are commonalities in all services.
If you’re not from a Unitarian Universalist background, the format of the service still may be familiar to you, though the content will be wide-ranging, with topics from spiritual growth to social justice. As Unitarian Universalists, our Sources are varied. Most services include readings (silent and responsive), announcements and affirmations, prayers and silent meditations. At times, throughout the service you are asked to rise, if you are able, and so moved. Music is offered in every service. It may include several hymns, recorded music, guest musicians, or our vocal and hand bell choirs. Most services include a silent meditation, and may include a responsive reading. Most services include a message which is delivered by a minister, intern, or guest speaker. To have an idea of what these are like, you may view some past videos.
There is a free-will offering, though guests are welcome to let the pouch pass by. Unless pledged, 85% of our Generosity Donations go to a local non-profit organization. The extinguishing of the chalice signals the end of the service. Services tend to last about an hour. It is our custom to remain seated during the postlude. After the service, you will have a chance to greet and speak to the ministers, if you wish. Following the service, we invite you to join us at Social Hour for refreshments. Please don't hesitate to ask any questions about the services, current events, and social activities, our religious education programs for children and adults, access to restrooms, or anything else. We would like to know you, and to help you feel at home.
What should I do if I have a specific need related to accessibility?
Our entire campus is ADA compliant with ramps available throughout. There is wheelchair drop-off for the Meeting House available at the turn-around, via the drive located to the right of the ACE Parking Booth. Parking is not allowed in this access drive as it is a fire lane, and must be kept clear at all times. There is an elevator in the Welcome Center, serving all three levels. There is a lift in the Meeting House to access the choir loft. Our 11:30AM service at the Hillcrest campus has American Sign Language (ASL) Interpretation. Service and Emotional Support Animals are welcome on campus and in the Meeting House where our services are held. Please be sure the dogs are clearly identified. ESA owners are asked to obtain a First UU Service Dog tag from the Administration Office. In the Meeting House at the Hillcrest Campus, there is “fragrance-free” seating in the far pews for those who need or prefer to avoid scents and perfumes. This area is marked; please ask an usher to direct you. There are also hearing devices, and large-print hymnals, and Orders of Service for those who need them. Please ask an usher if you need to use any of these items. If you have any further needs or questions about our campus, please call 619-298-9978 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What does the church offer for children and families on Sundays?
We are delighted that you and your children are attending First Church. While childcare and age-appropriate children’s classes are available, during the services, children of all ages are welcome in the Meeting House. For your convenience, a quiet Wiggle Room is available at the back of the Meeting House. First Church provides child care for young children, and religious education for older children, year round, although the programs will vary according to the season and service time. Our website provides detailed information about the current programs. Childcare for younger children is available prior to each service. Services begin at 9:30AM and 11:30AM and children usually stay in the sanctuary for the first 10 or 15 minutes for welcomes, announcements, and a “time for all ages” story or activity geared to children. All children are invited down to the chancel, around the chalice, for the Children’s Affirmation. Children then leave the Meeting House to go to the patio where they meet their Religious Education leaders, and go to their classes – parents may accompany their children, if they wish. Parents and caregivers are expected to pick up their children from their classrooms by 10:45AM or 12:45PM. More information can be found on our Children's Ministry and Religious Education page.
Childcare for younger children is provided in the Worship Space. Older children and youth are welcome to join adults in the larger worship service.