We are in the enviable position of being in the cultural heart of the metropolitan area: across the street from the renowned Kansas City Art Institute and the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, and just a few blocks from the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and, of course, the University of Missouri at Kansas City.
Our building, as well as our people, are warm and welcoming and something interesting is nearly always going on.
- Bragg Auditorium
- Conover Café
- Grace Hill Library and Bookstore
- Simpson House
When you enter All Souls on Sunday morning, you will be welcomed by a big, bright and comfortable lobby and a member wearing a “Greeter” name tag. Opening off the lobby are Bragg Auditorium, where Sunday services are held, and the stairs to the lower level, where children’s Sunday School classes meet.
An information area is located just inside the door, filled with printed materials available for the taking to read at your leisure. Or if you have questions, any of us will be happy to answer them.
Bragg Auditorium is the heart of the building, the place where the congregation comes together weekly for Sunday morning services as well as weekly activities such as Tuesday night documentary films and Friday night Service for the Soul. It also is the site of frequent church-sponsored concerts and meetings on community service projects as well as being a popular rental space for programs and rites of passage.
Remodeled in 1998, Bragg seats 225 people and can be opened into the lobby to accommodate overflow crowds.
Two pieces of art at the front of Bragg greet the congregation and set the tone for the room.
Beside the pulpit stands the flaming chalice, which is lit at the opening of each service. The chalice has become a symbol of the Unitarian Universalist Association, uniting our members in worship and symbolizing the spirit of our work.
On the wall behind the pulpit is a fiber sculpture of a chrysalis, which represents the emergence of a butterfly from its cocoon and is an abstract expression of growth and emergence. The 20-foot by 12-foot artwork was done by Kansas City fiber artist Janet Kuemmerlein.
“Conover Café” could just as easily be called the family room of the church. On Sunday morning, the coffee is perking and the refreshment table is waiting. And sitting at tables and standing in groups are people are catching up with the lives of old friends and making new ones, debating public policy strategies or discussing this week’s sermon or the work of a committee.
But Conover is a versatile room.
It is attached to a full-service kitchen and is the dining room for monthly Sunday Plus Lunches, which are home-cooked meals served after the Sunday service as fund raising opportunities for church projects.
And throughout the week Conover is used for meetings, parties, Wednesday dinners and special events of all sorts.
Downstairs is headquarters for our burgeoning religious education program.
The colorful hallway is lined with classrooms that are filled each Sunday morning with children busily growing and learning about their world and the world around them. Sunday morning programing includes classes for preschool through high school.
The end of the hallway opens into a fenced playground with heavy plastic slides and climbers to accommodate active little bodies.
Child care for the very young is conveniently located upstairs near the activities designed for the adults of the family.
Grace Hill Library and Bookstore
The written word is an important part of a UU’s life. If you don’t believe that, look around as you follow the hallway from Bragg Auditorium to Conover Café for coffee and conversation after the service..
The books that line the wall to your left are for sale, most of them published by the two Unitarian Universalist Association publishing houses – Beacon Press and Skinner House– and all of them chosen to facilitate the individual members’ spiritual and intellectual growth. Some of them are recommended reading for adult education classes but most of them were chosen to tweak the curiosity or answer nagging questions of parishioners. They cover both theological subjects and issues having to do with social justice and environmental responsibility.
Inside a door on your right and a bit farther down the hall is a room filled to overflowing with even more books. These make up the Grace Hill Library– a free, lending library stocked with books, books and more books.
The collection includes recent best sellers like Barack Obama’s “Dreams of My Father” as well as classics like The Jefferson Bible, plus a section exclusively devoted to books for children.
And, don’t forget periodicals. This is also a good place to stop if you want to check out the latest copy of the UU World or the Humanist magazines.
On any given month you may find two-dimensional art of just about any style and medium filling the walls of the All Souls’ lobby.
The large, sunny lobby doubles as an art gallery, actually the longest continually operating, non-commercial art gallery in Kansas City, having been first opened when the congregation moved into its current building in 1960.
Exhibits are changed every month and are opened with a reception on the first Sunday afternoon of the month. The number of pieces in an exhibit can range from 15 to 30 depending on the size of the pieces. Most are for sale; the church takes no commission. Artists showing in the gallery are approved by the church gallery committee before they are invited to exhibit.
Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday and Sunday and 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.
Available for receptions, parties or any event you want to be extraordinary. Visit the Simpson House Website.
Across the parking lot from the church is the Simpson House, a three-story stone mansion. The house, built in 1909, was purchased from the Simpson family in 1984 and has become an integral part of church celebrations and special dinners, as well as a popular rental venue.
After the purchase, a church committee was charged with oversight of restoration including a new roof, wiring, central air and a modern kitchen and rest rooms.
Inside the heavy oak doors, the perfectly preserved woodwork, gracefully flowing staircase and majestic ceilings set the tone of a genteel period a century ago.
Through the expansive, leaded-glass windows visitors are treated to views of beautifully landscaped gardens that offer peace and solitude to the seeker.
A stroll outside leads you to a water feature on the south side that becomes a relaxing place for people who enjoy watching the birds and small animals that are drawn to the bubbling water. Behind the building is a meticulously landscaped memorial garden honoring church members. And throughout are benches and statuary that invite the visitor to stay a little longer.
All Souls makes every effort to make its services and programs accessible to everyone:
- Braille is used on room signs inside the building.
- The door nearest our parking lot’s handicapped spaces has an electric opener.
- Large-print copies of the Sunday order of services with accompanying hymns and readings are available from the morning ushers.
- Hearing devices are available for checkout from the church office.
- A ramp leads to the stage and pulpit.
- Accessible parking is near the building entrance.
- An accessible restroom (unisex) is located near the lobby.