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Who We Are

Our Beliefs and Principles

Volunteering at UUCJ

Fellowship and Fun

  • Dinners-For-Eight
  • O'Leno
  • Special Events

Unitarian Universalist History

There have always been people who believed that one Creation embraced all people, that life should be a unity, rather than warring factions of sacred and profane. There have always been people who believed that life was good, death was peaceful, and hell and devil were mistaken superstitions. The early Christian Church contained both Unitarians, arguing for the unity of God and the humanity of Jesus, and Universalists, arguing that a good God and a loving Jesus would save all people, but these beliefs became heresies. At the beginning of the Reformation, in the 1500s, individuals and small movements throughout Europe began again to proclaim Unitarian and Universalist beliefs. Transylvania's King John Sigismund, who was a Unitarian, made the first edict of religious toleration in the Western world in 1568. He declared that each community should elect its own religious leaders and agree upon its shared doctrines in love. Joseph Priestley, who discovered oxygen and hydrogen, was an 18th Century Unitarian minister in England. Unitarian and Universalist ideas came early to the American colonies, and many prominent Americans were members of our faiths: five Presidents, a multitude of famous authors and politicians, philosophers and inventors, and, particularly, women and men social reformers. In 1961, the two denominations joined together. There are presently more than 1050 Unitarian Universalist congregations, and more than 200,000 Unitarian Universalists in North America.

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Unitarian Universalist Church of Jacksonville History

The Unitarian Universalist Church of Jacksonville [UUCJ] was founded in 1906, significantly by Duncan Fletcher, who served as Mayor of Jacksonville, and became one of Florida's U.S. Senators. After hard times during the depression and war years, the congregation was renewed in the 1950s by strong lay-leadership, led by Dorcas and Francis Alberti. The congregation, by 1958, had a home on St. John's Avenue in Riverside. In 1960, a new minister, the Rev. McGehee was hired. With many from our congregation, he became an active leader in the civil rights movement. In 1966, our present building was dedicated. The architect was Bob Broward, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright, and still himself a leader in the congregation and in NE Florida. We share a boundary with the Tree Hill Nature Center, and our buildings have received significant architectural awards. We are, at present, a congregation of about 300 adults and 100 children and youth.

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Our Minister

Dr. John L. Young, grew up in Kansas, did graduate work in political science, and became an activist in the civil rights and disarmament movements. He became a Unitarian Universalist as a college freshman, having grown up in a home that was spiritual, but not church going. He has worked as a musician, camp counselor, construction and factory worker, community organizer, hospital chaplain, and US Immigration Officer, before becoming a UU Minister in 1970. He received his doctorate in Ministry from the Meadville/Lombard UU Seminary at the University of Chicago and has been a Merrill Fellow at Harvard University. John has served churches in Chicago, New York City, Bloomington, IN, Paramus, NJ, and Sacramento, CA, before becoming our minister in August of 1999. John is married to Kathleen Moran, recently retired from her technical writing career. He has two grown children. John has been a leader in nonprofit organizations serving the homeless, building affordable housing for the poor, serving the mentally ill, working for disarmament on behalf of the United Nations, and for ecumenical understanding. He has traveled widely, is a published author and poet, and enjoys the outdoors and music. He serves as an Adjunct Professor of Philosophy and Religion at the University of North Florida, teaching courses on Religious Non-Violence, the Religions of India, Gandhi, Truth and Reconciliation, and Contemporary Liberal Religion. He is presently a Fellow at the UNF Ethics Center. John recently completed two years on the national UUA Nominating Committee.

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The Board

The Board plans for and administers the resources and facilities needed to fulfill the purposes of the Church. It sets policy and acts in the name of the Church between Congregational meetings. The Board has final jurisdiction over all activities of all committees and offices of the church, and authorizes all committees needed for carrying out its responsibilities and specifies their duties. The UUCJ Board consists of a: President, President-elect, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, Building and Grounds Chair, Community Outreach Chair, Finance Chair, Membership Chair, Religious Education Chair,and two Members-at-Large.

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Our Congregation

We govern ourselves democratically. We elect our Minister, Officers, and Board, which makes our policies and support our programs, volunteers, and staff between congregational meetings. Congregational meetings are usually held directly after Sunday services several times each year. They also may be called, with at least ten days notice to the congregation, to respond to special concerns. Our by-laws presently mandate three annual meetings: one in December to choose the Nominating Committee for elected offices, one in March to consider a preliminary budget and to elect Officers and Board members, and one in June to hear annual reports and to vote upon a final budget for the coming financial year, which is from July through June. All members may vote, serve on committees, and hold elected offices.

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Our Spoken Affirmation

Love is the doctrine of this church, the quest of truth is its sacrament, and service is its prayer. To dwell together in peace, to seek knowledge in freedom, to serve humanity in fellowship, to the end that all souls shall grow into harmony with the divine, thus do we covenant with one another.

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Our Mission

We are a religious and spiritual community celebrating our Unitarian Universalist principles. We are committed to caring for each other with acceptance and respect. We pledge to sustain a sacred space where, together, we seek personal growth, life's meaning, and justice. We serve as a catalyst for social change through our actions.

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Our Goals

  • Enrich, inspire and nurture our members and children
  • Realize the beauty and value of our buildings and grounds
  • Build bridges of love and justice within our church, in our community, and in the world
  • Ensure the economic viability of the church
  • Be a beacon for liberal religion in Northeast Florida

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Our Congregational Covenant

As members of this congregation, in order to nurture and enhance our lives together in this sacred space where we seek personal growth, discern life's meaning, and build relationships of fairness and love, we intend to:

  • Offer our unique gifts, talents, time, energy, and financial support
  • Respect the views and needs of others, practicing tolerance, understanding, and acceptance even in disagreement, allowing loving relationship to transcend issues
  • Celebrate the diversity within our midst even when it is difficult or uncomfortable
  • Invite and welcome others in the quest for spiritual and ethical growth, recognizing each other and guests in fellowship
  • Share the ministry of our church, caring for each other through times of joy and sorrow

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Unitarian Universalist Principals and Traditions

We 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 rights of conscience and the use of democratic process within our congregations and society
  • 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

The living tradition we share draws from many sources

  • Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life
  • Words and deeds of prophetic women and men which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love
  • Wisdom from the world's religions which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life
  • Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God's love by loving our neighbors as ourselves
  • Humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science, and warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit
  • Spiritual teachings of Earth-centered traditions, which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature

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Volunteering at UUCJ

Our enjoyment of membership is increased as we participate in the life and the work of our church. New and long-term members strive to make UUCJ and our world a better place. Listed here are some of the ways we contribute our efforts to benefit us all.

To find out more about these and other volunteer opportunities, talk with the Membership Committee Chair, the Membership Coordinator, our Minister, or any of the church leadership.

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Membership

  • Greet visitors and members, hand out the Order of Service, and collect the offering.
  • Talk with visitors and prospective members in the Social Hall after Sunday service. Provide information about church activities and direct visitors to the information they need.
  • Help interested people obtain reprints of previous sermons, and collect donations to defray the cost.
  • Attend an occasional Orientation meeting, and join in discussing the religious journeys that led us to UUCJ.
  • Mentor a new member or family to assist in their integration into the life of the church.
  • Support the Membership Coordinator in and around the office as needed before the Sunday Service.
  • Make phone calls to members through the telephone tree when an urgent message must be conveyed.

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Fellowship / Hospitality

  • Set up coffee and snacks for the social hour on Sunday as a Coffee Hour volunteer. Follow instructions on purchasing supplies and cleaning up.
  • Send reminders as Hospitality Coordinator to coffee hosts with information on how to set up and find supplies, and periodically check on supply of staples. Get replacements when needed.
  • Provide a comfortable atmosphere for a small group cooperative or potluck dinner at your home as host/hostess for Dinners for Eight.

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Community Outreach

  • Participate in providing a meal for the homeless. This may entail baking cookies and/or assembling lunches at the I.M. Sulzbacher Center for the Homeless.
  • Participate in the Crop Walk Annual fall community event where many churches join together to raise money for food for the needy.
  • Sign up participants as the Crop Walk Organizer.
  • Represent your church by participating in the Martin Luther King Day Parade.
  • Distribute information as needed about timely issues after Sunday service as an Information Table volunteer.
  • Assist in collecting and delivering items and funds for our local Arlington food bank.
  • Coordinate with North Florida AIDS network in collecting and distributing needed articles for AIDS patients
  • Help organize Community Outreach potluck dinners for specific issues or speakers held in the Social Hall.

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Religious Services

  • Perform mini concerts before and provide music during Sunday service.
  • Provide arrangements of flowers or interesting objects for the Chancel Table at Sunday services.

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Building and Grounds

  • Help with general grounds keeping, planting, weeding, watering, and clearing our Pond.

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Life Span Religious Education

  • Lead a study group session or series, using a subject of special interest to you or based on UU materials.
  • Teach UU curriculum to our youth as an RE teacher.
  • Plan activities for children/teen annual events as an RE event planner.
  • Provide and prepare food for RE parents and teachers for special RE events as an RE volunteer.

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Finance

  • Meet with church members to consider financial stewardship and contributions as a member of the Canvass team.
  • Participate in planning/organizing annual fund raising events as a Canvass event volunteer.
  • Assist in compiling services for auction, and help with bidding or refreshments as a Service Auction helper.
  • Create and produce special events and projects with fund raising potential.

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Zip Code Caring Network

  • Contact members in your geographic area periodically, and pass along information on their special needs.
  • Coordinate social events at least twice annually for each zip code group as a Social Volunteer.
  • Assist the Social Coordinator for a specific event as a Zip Code volunteers.
  • Provide assistance to one or more members as a trained Caring Associate as members' needs are identified.

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Fellowship and Fun

UU's are notorious for wanting to have fun together, so our various Interest Groups aim to please by organizing many fun, intergenerational social events such as Luaus, Halloween parties, movie nights, and group outings to athletic events.

Dinners-for-Eight

Share an interesting evening each month with 8-12 other UU's and friends by signing an interest list in the Social Room after the Sunday service.

O'Leno

This annual event is shared by all church members and friends and takes place in spring at O'Leno State Park near Gainesville, Florida. From Friday through Sunday afternoon, all generations unite in good fellowship, food, fun, and a reaffirmation of our church community. There is a nominal fee to cover food costs and camp rental.

Special Events

Musical performances, lectures, workshops, and artistic exhibits are offered or sponsored by the UUCJ on a regular basis. Watch this Web site and the church bulletin for details.

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We are an intentionally diverse religious community, welcoming people from different races, religious backgrounds, ideological outlooks, genders, family statuses, sexual preferences, and ethnic heritages.

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