First Time Visitors
Welcome from Minister
Welcome to Live Oak UU Congregation—We’re glad you found us!
You are welcome here!!
In our often isolated and hectic lives, many of us long for a place to be accepted into the warm embrace of community and caring.
A place that is theologically progressive that will challenge our spiritual growth and encourage us to become better human beings.
A place that cherishes children and youth as they are encouraged to grow strong ethical roots and given wings to question and explore.
A place that encourages us and provides us with opportunities to work together toward building a more just and healthy world in which all life and the Earth itself may flourish.
A place that values families of all kinds, values all people and all beings.
A place that values the multiplicity of spiritual journeys and allows for the growth of our whole selves: mind, body, and spirit.
If you are seeking such a place, then I invite you to explore our website, and join us for our live, virtual Sunday services, or any of the events and classes offered. We are a warm, exciting, and vibrant congregation and we look forward to meeting you and welcoming you to Live Oak soon. Many blessings on your journey and we hope to welcome you home soon!
Rev. Tamara Casanova Suzuki
What to Expect
Welcome! We look forward to meeting you when you visit Live Oak. Whether you are brand new to Unitarian Universalism or moving here from a UU community in another city, or even if you are returning after years away from Live Oak, you are always welcome! Our worship services take place each Sunday at 10:00 a.m.
Ours is a shared ministry so each service includes components that are led by our minister or guest sermon-giver, by our Worship Associates, and by individuals who serve in leadership roles at Live Oak. Like many other congregations, our services include music, a story for all ages, a sermon, meditation, and the sharing of joys and sorrows. What makes our congregation unique, however, is the content. The Unitarian Universalist approach to spirituality is not based on a creed or received revelation, but rather through the search for the gathered wisdom of humankind; from other religions, from the arts and sciences, and from reason and intuition. Each spiritual journey is unique and there is space for differences.
Special Live Oak Customs
Toward the beginning of the service we invite our guests to introduce themselves if they so choose.
Sometimes during the service something special happens that we want to recognize with applause. Usually we show acknowledgement by raising and rotating our hands without interrupting the quiet space of the service but sometimes clapping wins out (especially if the youth of our congregation have contributed in a special way).
Also, because there are several members of the congregation who are highly allergic to fragrances, we try not to wear strong perfumes or colognes.
At the end of the service we stand and hold hands while singing a closing hymn. In most congregations that’s where things would end, but we usually sit back down to enjoy a last gift of music.
After the service, we gather on the patio for coffee and conversation and on some Sundays there are special events following the service.
We call it Religious Exploration and we have a fun and engaging program for Pre Kindergarten-Grade 12, as well as childcare for the youngest children. The children almost always join us in the sanctuary for the first part of the service, generally leaving after we collect food items to share with the Goleta Headstart Program. We sing them out of the sanctuary as they leave for their classes and you are, of course, welcome to join your child’s class as he or she acclimates to the new people and surroundings.
We also have a “Gurgling Gallery” for families with babies & toddlers who might want to stay with their parents during the service. It is a small room with rocking chairs that is attached to the sanctuary; it has a large window to see the service and speakers to hear the service, but is a place where the noise of little ones doesn’t matter. You are always welcome to use it.
Find your way to the Visitor Table and you will be greeted and given a bag with information about Unitarian Universalism and about Live Oak UU Congregation’s programs. You will also be invited to fill out a visitor information card with your contact information and your choices for future communication (weekly newsletter of activities, etc.) Finally, you will be encouraged to make yourself a name tag so others can easily greet you and get acquainted. Please don’t hesitate to ask questions, especially of the people who are wearing a “Greeter” ribbon; that’s why they are wearing that tag!
No. Dress up if you like, come in jeans with holes in the knees, wear your biking outfit. It really doesn’t matter. On balance, most of us just wear typical southern California casual.
Why Become a Live Oak Member?
Sure, anyone can attend, anyone can worship, can reap the benefits of our Religious Education program or Youth Group, can share the joy of Sundays in this community, can join our Covenant Groups and other circles, but what does a capital-M Membership mean?
Well, there are the little benefits of membership:
- Voting rights at our congregational meetings (help decide the BIG issues)
- Ability to serve on the Board of Trustees
- Use of Live Oak space for parties or gatherings that are open to the other members of the community.
- Be counted among the U.U.s who are served by our Pacific Southwest District and our Unitarian Universalist Association, including being on the distribution list for the excellent UUWorld magazine
And then there are the BIG BENEFITS:
- Becoming a member is about aligning your actions with your beliefs. It’s saying to yourself, your family, and this community that you agree with the actions and values of Unitarian Universalism, and are committed to trying to live these values.
- Becoming a member is also about making visible your sense of belonging to this congregation. It’s an entering into covenant with us, and an expression of commitment to our shared future. It is a heart and spirit decision.
Join us on this spiritual journey. Walk down the path to Membership with the three steps:
- Path to Membership – We ask all newcomers to attend our Path to Membership class, which is offered two or three times a year. Path to Membership is a great way for newcomers to get to know one another as we share thoughts about our own spiritual paths and grow in knowledge about our congregation and about Unitarian Universalism. (You can register for Orientation by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Sign THE BOOK – It’s decision time! You attend worship. You’ve gone through Orientation. You consider this Live Oak community your spiritual home. Are you ready to make a commitment to this congregation? If so, make an appointment to sign the Membership Book and add your name to the Charter Members who started our congregation on May 4, 1986.
- Stewardship – Take a look at what this community means to you, to Goleta, and to the world. This congregation is supported solely by its members and friends. We ask people to make a generous yearly financial commitment in the form of a stewardship pledge.
Learn More About Unitarian Universalism
What Do Unitarian Universalists Believe?
Unitarian Universalism is a noncreedal religion. We do not describe ourselves or our dynamic spiritual journeys with an unchanging set of beliefs. As our lives unfold, new wisdom and fresh beliefs arise, further informing and enriching our journeys.
Our Unitarian Universalist tradition is also based in covenant: the promises we make to treat each other with respect and compassion (in contemporary terms, we choose to live in right relationship). In other words, how we are together is more important than sharing the same specific theological beliefs.
Ours is a faith that embraces questions. We don’t profess to hold any single, irrefutable Truth, nor do we claim that Unitarian Universalism is the “right” religious path for everyone. Instead, we honor the complexity of life, with all of its ageless questions, and strive to “live the questions themselves” (in the words of Rainer Maria Rilke), even when the questions become so messy as to be painful.
Because of our deep regard for the many sources of wisdom, solace, and inspiration, Unitarian Universalists respect and embrace those sources. On any given Sunday, our “sacred text” might include readings from the Bible, Transcendentalist poetry, the Upanishads, or contemporary prose. We regard Jesus of Nazareth as a great teacher of radical love; most Unitarian Universalists find greatest meaning in his life and teachings, rather than his death and resurrection. We hold Jesus in the same esteem as we do the other prophets and sages throughout history who have led their communities into deeper levels of justice and love.
Indeed, Unitarian Universalism is a religious tradition that calls us all to broaden our awareness of suffering and injustice, and to take up the work of justice however we can. Our Universalist forebears believed that they were called “to create the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth.” Today, we still believe that we’re responsible for one another as members of the human family. Each of us is an agent of the Holy in making that love visible, co-creators with the Source of Life as we give shape to the world that we envision.
As an Assocation of Unitarian Universalist congregations, we are guided by the Principles and Purposes of the Unitarian Universalist Association:
We, the member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association, 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 right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
- 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 which we share draws from many sources:
- Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a 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.
Grateful for the religious pluralism which enriches and ennobles our faith, we are inspired to deepen our understanding and expand our vision. As free congregations we enter into this covenant, promising to one another our mutual trust and support.