Learn More About Live Oak Unitarian Universalist Congregation

What we believe

Unitarian Universalist congregations affirm and promote seven Principles, which we hold as strong values and moral guides. We live out these Principles within a “living tradition” of wisdom and spirituality, drawn from sources as diverse as science, poetry, scripture, and personal experience.

As Rev. Barbara Wells ten Hove explains, “The Principles are not dogma or doctrine, but rather a guide for those of us who choose to join and participate in Unitarian Universalist religious communities.”

  1. 1st Principle: The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
  2. 2nd Principle: Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
  3. 3rd Principle: Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
  4. 4th Principle: A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
  5. 5th Principle: The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
  6. 6th Principle: The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
  7. 7th Principle: Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

The seven Principles and six Sources of the Unitarian Universalist Association grew out of the grassroots of our communities, were affirmed democratically, and are part of who we are. Read them as they are written in our UUA Bylaws.

On April 5, 2021, The Black Lives of UU (BLUU) Organizing Collective encouraged all Unitarian Universalists to advocate for the formal adoption of an 8th Principle, articulating a commitment to the dismantling of white supremacy, with the stated principles of our faith.

“We, the member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association, covenant to affirm and promote: journeying toward spiritual wholeness by working to build a diverse multicultural Beloved Community by our actions that accountably dismantle racism and other oppressions in ourselves and our institutions.”

Our Mission Statement

Live Oak is an open, welcoming, and inclusive community, grounded in love, providing opportunities for spiritual growth for seekers of all ages and stages. We actively live our values of diversity, compassion and justice to humanity and the earth.

In 2009, Live Oak adopted the following statement of our Core Values and Covenant of Good Relations.

We, the members and friends of this congregation, value:

  • Inclusivity, opening our hearts and minds to those who have traveled journeys unlike ours, whose strengths and challenges may be different from ours, remembering that we are all precious, with our own special gifts to offer.
  • Relationships with others of all ages, and the gifts that each generation brings to our community.
  • A safe place to make mistakes.
  • A welcoming space for all to speak their truth respectfully.
  • The importance of deep listening and respect for each other.
  • The democratic process, through which we give voice to concerns and offer our time and energy to arrive at solutions.

In my interactions with others in this congregation, through all forms of communication and in all situations, I will:

  • Welcome with an open heart and mind those who respect our values and wish to call LOUUC their spiritual home, seeking their own path to truth and meaning.
  • Express opinions on congregational issues with the intention of helping to make this congregation a better place for myself, Live Oak members and friends, and those who have yet to cross the threshold into our beloved community.
  • Value and learn from divergent beliefs and opinions and remain in respectful dialogue.
  • Speak honestly and directly to everyone using thoughtful, compassionate language.
  • Assume good intentions in those with whom I disagree. If possible, listen deeply to and seek resolution with them before engaging the Good Relations Ministry in conflict mediation.  I understand that I may call on the members of the Good Relations Ministry for advice and assistance as needed.
  • Forgive the errors and shortcomings of myself and others who contribute to our shared ministry and express  gratitude for the many gifts we bring.

Live Oak UU Congregation History
Putting Down Roots

Live Oak UU Congregation began as a “spinoff” congregation with the help of the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara, the Pacific Southwest District, and the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA).

September 1985 Our new community began meeting at Goleta Valley Community Center.  Later moved to the Human Relations Institute at 5200 Hollister with regular services and a religious education (RE) program of three children. Pat Johnson and Martha Golus, two of the founding members, served as our first co-directors of RE.

June 1986  22 members chose the name Live Oak Unitarian Universalist Congregation and became affiliated with the UUA. Rev. Bets Wienecke was invited to serve as the new congregation organizer.

TIP: Click or tap an image for full-size slideshow.

3 1985, map 5200 Hollister

January 1987: The congregation moved to the University Religious Center in Isla Vista

March 1990: Rev. Bets Wienecke was called as its first settled minister. The Live Oak Congregation continued to grow and moved across the street to St Michael’s Episcopal Church where the RE program and services were conducted.

1992: Live Oak purchased about 1 acre of land, including a farmhouse, garage and a tank house at 820 N. Fairview Ave in Goleta.

April-November 1994: Construction of the new Fellowship Hall and remodeling of the existing farmhouse. The garage transformed to a Cottage meeting place.

1994-2008: Services were held in the Fellowship Hall.

19 2003-05-18 Bets Sunday Service, Fellowship Hall

2000: The congregation grew to a membership over 120 members and more space was very much needed. The members agreed to undertake a capital campaign and building program for a new sanctuary. At this time, Live Oak officially designated a Welcoming Congregation. Being welcoming means the welcome and inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people.

24 2002 Rev. Carolyn Price

2002-2004: Live Oak became a teaching congregation when Rev. Carolyn Price served as a ministerial student intern.

33 2005 Rev. Erika Hewitt

June 2005-January 2012: Erika Hewitt was called as our new settled minister.

Our RE program was enriched through the years by RE directors: Teena Grant, Susan Belanger, Debra Rodgers, and Kristen Rohm.

2003-June 2011: Jan Ross served as Live Oak’s Director of Religious Exploration (DRE). A Peace Pole was put up in honor of her years of service as DRE.

September 2004: Rev. Bets Wienecke, after 18 years of service, retired and was granted Minister Emerita status. Rev. Paul Beedle arrived as our interim minister for one year.

April-December 2008: Construction of the new Sanctuary.

December 2008: We had our first service in the new sanctuary.

42 2009-01-17 LO buildings Fairview

2010: The Fellowship Hall was renovated and we began renting this space to the Friendship Center, an Alzheimer adult day-care center, during week days.

February-July 2012: James Forrest served as a one year interim DRE, followed by Gloria Liggett. Rev. David Owen-O’Quill served as transition minister.

49 2012 Rev. Thomas Anastasi

August 2012 -July 2014: Rev. Thomas Anastasi served as the interim minister.

50 DRE Tracey Goforth

September 2013 - October 2015: Tracey Goforth directed the RE program.

51 2014 Rev. Tamara Casanova Suzuki

August 2014-August 2022: Live Oak called the Rev. Tamara Casanova Suzuki to serve as our settled minister. Reverend Tamara served as our minister from August 2014 to August 2022.

December 2014: John Douglas started as Music Director, following John Sonquist who served as our pianist for several years.

55-2019-11-02-Clacey-Kahn (1)

March 2015-February 2021: Clacey Kahn worked as Live Oak’s Administrator.

56 016 Lora Barnett

September 2016- June 2017: Lora Barnett was our ministerial student intern, including serving as acting DRE for four months.

Steven Lovelace Director of Religious Exploration

February 2017: Our current DRE, Steven Lovelace. He also became Administrator in January 2021.

February 2019: Volunteers installed 25 solar panels on the roof of the sanctuary.

March 2021: The Live Oak campus temporarily closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic started conducting virtual Sunday Services off-site via Zoom.

Live Oak is a vibrant community that grew from an acorn into a strong oak and continues growing and thriving.