Frequently Asked Questions
What time is your service?
We have our “regular” CELEBRATION OF LIFE service at 11:15 each Sunday morning throughout the year. In the summer we hold our RELIGIOUS ODYSSEY program at 10:00 a.m. The FORUM is 10:00 to 10:50 Sunday mornings September through May.
You may dress up or dress casually. People wear whatever makes them feel comfortable on the occasion. For Sunday services, adults wear everything from suits to jeans. Children are encouraged to wear clothes appropriate to the activities in which they will be engaged.
What do children do during the services?
Children are invited to attend Sunday School at 11:15 am. At 10:00am children from 3-18 attend an activity hour. Younger children will do a creative project. Older youth will be engaged with a service activity. See the Religious Education page for more information.
May my child stay with me during the service?
Certainly. If your child becomes restless, there is a nearby nursery with an audio feed so that you’ll be able to hear the service.
Yes, nursery care is available during all services for infant to 3 yr olds. We have a Sunday School program at 11:15 am with supervised activities at 10:00am for kids 3-18.
How do I get there?
All Souls is located at 4501 Walnut Street, one block east of the intersection of 45th and Main Streets, just east of the Country Club Plaza. See map and parking information. If you need further directions, call the church at 816-531-2131, or use Mapquest.com.
Will I be welcomed in this congregation?
Yes, everyone is welcome, whatever your age, ethnicity, race, sex, affectional or sexual orientation, physical challenge, religion, business connections, or political affiliation.
Is your church accessible to the disabled?
Yes. See our Access page for information on the accommodations we have available.
Do members of the congregation have varied beliefs?
Yes, diversity is common among Unitarian Universalists (UUs), and this church includes people with all manner of beliefs. We have Buddhist UUs, Christian UUs, humanists, Jewish UUs, pagans, agnostics, and atheists, to name just some of the beliefs held. We are united by our belief in the importance of accepting one another and encouraging spiritual development, guided by freedom, reason and conscience.
What do the members of this church have in common?
One of things we do every Sunday is say the following covenant: “Goodwill is the spirit of this church, and service is its law. This is our great covenant: to dwell together in peace, to seek the truth in love, and to help one another.”
What goes on during the Sunday Service?
After special announcements, visitors are invited to introduce themselves and members may introduce their guests. Music is spread throughout the service, some performed by a choir, or special musical guests, and some hymns are sung by the congregation — see below. The chalice is lit. The heart of the service is usually the readings and sermon by the minister or guest preacher. An offering, to support the work of the church, is a part of each service.
What’s the music like at the worship services?
Most regulars at All Souls think that the music is a strength in our worship. Our music director, Anthony Edwards, plays on one of the finest pianos in the city, and directs a wonderful choir which sings about twice a month. We frequently bring in outstanding guest artists to perform; often the guests are members of the congregation. The music ranges from classical or jazz to popular songs or folk music, and is sometimes originally composed for the occasion. The UU hymnal we use, Singing the Living Tradition, contains a wealth of music, poetry, wisdom, and beauty from many traditions and throughout the world.
What else happens on Sunday morning?
The Forum, on Sundays at 10:00 am, September through May, provides a platform for the discussion of significant issues, especially those that involve ethical values in the modern world. It is usually in a lecture format, followed by a question and answer period. In the summer, Religious Odysseys replaces the Forum at 10:00 am. Each week, a member of the church presents the story of her or his spiritual journey.
What’s the mission of All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church?
As a non-creedal church in the liberal religious tradition, All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church is both a community and a movement. As a community, we invite people of diverse beliefs to come together, inspired by the values of mutual care and respect, intellectual and spiritual inquiry, and social and environmental responsibility. As a movement, we seek to propagate these values in the larger communities — local, state, national, and global – of which we are a part.
Do Unitarian Universalists pray?
There is a wide variety of approaches to prayer: some would respond “no” to this question. Others believe that their acts for justice, or with compassion, are a form of prayer, while others have a more commonly-accepted notion of prayer and meditation.
As Mark Harris says in his pamphlet “Unitarian Universalism: Our Historic Faith,”
“Unitarians and Universalists have always been heretics. We are heretics because we want to choose our faith, not because we desire to be rebellious. ‘Heresy’ in Greek means ‘choice’. During the first three centuries of the Christian church, believers could choose from a variety of tenets about Jesus. Among these was a belief that Jesus was an entity sent by god on a divine mission. Thus the word ‘Unitarian’ developed, meaning the oneness of God. Another religious choice in the first three centuries of the Common Era (CE) was universal salvation. This was the belief that no person would be condemned by God to eternal damnation in a fiery pit. Thus a Universalist believed that all people will be saved. Christianity lost its element of choice in 325 CE when the Nicene Creed established the Trinity as dogma. For centuries thereafter, people who professed Unitarian or Universalist beliefs were persecuted.”
Unitarians and Universalists were part of the Protestant Reformation in the 16th Century. In America, UUs trace their roots to the Puritans who settled New England and organized the first Congregational churches.
The denominations of Unitarianism and Universalism merged in 1961, and the Unitarian Universalist Association was formed. UUs have been active in the civil rights movement, and continue to work today for greater racial and cultural diversity. The denomination affirms the rights of bisexuals, gays, lesbians, and transgendered persons, including ordaining and settling gay and lesbian clergy in its congregations, and in 1996, it affirmed same-sex marriage.
What is required to become a member of All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church?
The All Souls constitution welcomes as members anyone who is at least 14 years of age, is in sympathy with the congregation’s mission and whose written request for membership has been approved by the Board of Trustees. Members are voting members if they are at least 18 years old and have made a financial contribution of record in the current or preceding year. Under the All Souls bylaws state, “no test of creed, of faith, of national origin, of race or color, of gender, of affectional or sexual orientation, of physical challenge, or other similar tests” may be imposed as a condition of membership.
Do you have an orientation session for people who want to become members?
Yes, we hold a “Road to Membership” class for prospective members twice a year. During these sessions, the history of All Souls is shared, along with the history of the denomination, opportunities for connection and contribution at All Souls, and the religious histories of the participants. While attendance at the Membership class is not mandatory, we strongly encourage newcomers to attend.
You will receive the UU World Magazine published by the UUA. Membership in All Souls also means that other members have a commitment to you, as well as your commitment to them, as expressed when we say the covenant together at our Membership Ceremony. As a member you may vote at congregational meetings and on significant church matters. The most important benefits of membership are the opportunity to engage in a responsible search for truth in the company of other seekers; to work compassionately for justice; and to unite reason and passion in a life of meaning and purpose.
What about pledging?
A pledge, or an annual statement of your intended financial commitment, allows the congregation to plan its budget and programs for the fiscal year. While the volunteer work of our members is essential, their financial support is also necessary. If life circumstances change, the pledged amount can be adjusted. The pledge can be paid as a lump sum or weekly, monthly, or quarterly. A giving guide is available; as people who recognize the value of generosity, we encourage one another to work toward a commitment of 5% of income. Each member’s pledge, regardless of amount, is useful tot he congregation’s fiscal planning. To be a voting member, there is no requirement to pledge, but it is necessary to make a contribution of record. Making and fulfilling a pledge is a helpful way to do that, and it also is a way to practice generosity.
What social justice activities do you have?
We have a social responsibility board, which coordinates the activities of most of our justice work.
We also hold memberships in the Missouri Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, and in Project Equality, a local organization which is a religious, corporate, and non-profit partnership for equal employment opportunity and cultural diversity.
The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, or UUSC, is an independent organization that works at the forefront of the international human rights movement to secure and strengthen justice around the world.
Interweave, the organization for bisexuals, gays, lesbians, and transgender persons and their friends, is considered by some to be a social justice activity. All Souls members participate with other churches in building a Habitat for Humanity House annually.
What goes on at All Souls UU Church during the week?
During the week, there are numerous church and community meetings and events, including many adult education programs. Click here to sign up for the All Souls Friday E-mail and the monthly newsletter, the Flame. Check out the Concierge desk in the lobby on Sunday mornings and look for notices posted on bulletin boards. A daily calendar is posted at the main entrance; and you can consult the online calendar.
A flaming chalice is the symbol of Unitarian Universalism. At the opening of a UU worship service, many congregations light a flame inside a chalice. It is a symbol of unity in diversity and of the light each one of us can bring to the world.
The chalice and the flame were brought together as a Unitarian symbol in 1941. During the 1930s, Austrian artist Hans Deutsch drew critical cartoons of Adolf Hitler. When the Nazis invaded Paris in 1940, Deutsch fled to Portugal. There he met the Reverend Charles Joy, executive director of the Unitarian Service Committee, which had been newly founded to assist Eastern Europeans escape Nazi persecution. Joy oversaw a secret network of couriers and agents. Disguises, signs and countersigns, and midnight runs across guarded borders were part of the work of freedom. Joy asked Deutsch to create a symbol for Service Committee agents. The flaming chalice design was made into a seal for papers and a badge for agents moving refugees to freedom. In time it became a symbol of Unitarian Universalism all around the world. For more info, click here.