Frequently Asked Questions

When Do You Hold Services?

We have a single service, beginning at 10 a.m. and ending at 11:15 a.m. Following the service, we have coffee and conversation.

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Where is the UUC located?

The UUC Meeting House is at 1301 Gladewood Drive in Blacksburg, near the University Mall on Prices Fork Road.  View a map.

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What features can be found on our grounds (almost 5 acres)?

Our Grounds Committee has worked diligently to create a beautiful, peaceful, and natural environment including a labyrinth, wildflower garden, crescent garden, picnic shelter, a vernal bog, and Meditation Path with seven points representing each of our UU Principles. A bench can be found at each point. View a map of our property showing the many landscaping features. There is also a Memorial Garden, with three columbariums.

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What do people wear?

Most of our friends and members dress in casual clothes although it’s not uncommon to see sports jackets and dresses. Summertime brings out the shorts and sandals. Our children also wear a range of styles from dresses to jeans. Don’t feel that you or your children must “dress up” to fit in. Most of us prefer comfort to style!

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Where does one park?

We have ample parking with a number of designated handicapped spaces in the area close to the building. Our parking lot is accessed from a driveway off of Gladewood. Please note the sign warning of a drainage dip in the driveway, and drive slowly!

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Is there someone to help us find where we need to go?

Before the service, greeters outside the building can direct you. There is an entrance that people with wheelchairs and walkers can use. Inside, a greeter will welcome you, give you a name tag, and ask you to sign the guest book. This is simply for our own information and while we encourage you to share a little information (name, address, etc.), it’s not required. The greeter will give you a small packet that contains information about our congregation, our staff, and Unitarian Universalism. You will also find a copy of our latest newsletter which includes a calendar of events and activities.

If you bring children with you, a family greeter who is familiar with our programs for children and youth will help you find the right rooms and provide you with a visitor’s form.

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What is the service like?

Each services runs about an hour and follows the following format:

  • Prelude
  • Welcoming One Another
  • Welcoming Hymn
  • Kindling the Flame of Community
  • Affirmation 
  • Faith Practice with Our Children (followed by the children's recessional to RE classes)
  • Offering
  • Sharing of Joys and Concers followed by Silence for Prayer and Meditation
  • Readings and Musical Interlude
  • Sermon
  • Closing Hymn, Benediction, and Postlude

Our minister, Interim minister Reverend Don Rollins, is in the pulpit three times a month. A guest speaker or someone from the congregation will offer a sermon when Rev. Don is not speaking. On occasion, we have an multigenerational service when the children participate with the adults. You can find out what is happening on any given Sunday by looking at the list of upcoming Sunday services.

The service is recorded and a podcast of the readings and sermon is posted on our Web site.

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What kind of music is used in the service?

We enjoy a wide variety of music in the course of our services. On any given Sunday you will hear our talented pianist play a piece from a classical composer, a jazz tune, something from a musical or a movie theme, or a waltz that he composed. We have a growing choir directed by Ella Kromin. Again, diversity is the rule and the choir sings music from a range of traditions and composers. Many of the hymns that are used in the service will sound familiar to you, but the words represent our Unitarian Universalist values and beliefs.

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What will my children do?

Children and parents sit together for the first 15 minutes of the service. We provide free optional childcare for infants and young toddlers while parents attend the service. After the Story for All Ages, the children are “sung out” and go with their teachers to their classrooms. Parents may accompany their children to the classroom and then return to the meeting hall for the remainder of the service. Learn more about our Religious Education program.

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May my child stay with me during the service?

Yes, although we ask parents to be thoughtful of those sitting around them, particularly our elders who may have difficulty hearing. If your baby or young child is fussy, you are welcome to use our “cuddle room” which has a window and a speaker so that you can see and hear the service.

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What is the meaning of the flame of community and the chalice?

The ritual of kindling a flame in a chalice at the beginning of the service is common to many Unitarian Universalist congregations. The flame in our chalice symbolizes the light of truth, the equality between the congregation and the minister in matters of faith, and our concern for all people everywhere. Learn more about the history of The Flaming Chalice.

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What are the candles of remembrance and healing?

This is a ritual that we incorporated into our service after the tragic shootings at Virginia Tech in April 2007. Many of our members find that it is meaningful and comforting to light a candle in remembrance of a loved one, as an expression of hope in a time of difficulty, or an expression of gratitude in a time of joy.

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Is the UUC Meeting House accessible to people with physical challenges?

Yes. Anyone who has difficulty with stairs should use the entrance facing the garden at the back of the building. The building is equipped with a system for those who require hearing devices. Large-print hymnals and large-print copies of unison readings are also available.

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Is your minister available to do weddings for non-members or same-sex couples?

Our minister is happy to meet with any couple who are considering a wedding or ceremony of union. UU ministers have been active in the movement for equal marriage rights for all couples and have officiated at a number of same-sex ceremonies. Email Rev. Don.

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Does the minister preach from the bible?

Unitarian Universalists draw from many sources for their religious expression, and the Bible is one of those sources. We understand the Bible as a compilation of books written over thousands of years by people from a variety of cultures, perspectives, and understandings of life. While we respect this sacred text, we disagree with those who claim that it is the inerrant word of God.

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What do Unitarian Universalists believe?

Our Unitarian Universalist traditions are rooted in the Protestant Reformation, but we are the heretical root of that very large tree. The early Unitarians denied the doctrine of the Trinity as being unbiblical. The early Universalists believed that God’s love was so encompassing that in the end of time all of creation would be reconciled to God. Today we emphasize the unity of life and the connections between the great religions of the world and the wisdom they offer us.

To learn more about Unitarian Universalist beliefs, visit these sources:

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What do UUs believe about Jesus?

Most Unitarian Universalists understand Jesus as a prophet and teacher in keeping with the rabbinical tradition of his time. We honor him for the example of his life, and his demand that we base our lives in love for all people and a passion for justice. Like most Americans, we celebrate Christmas and Easter, but our own understanding of these holy days is different from what is taught in more traditional Christian churches.

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What is the Child Dedication ceremony?

Rather than holding Christian-style baptism ceremonies, most Unitarian Universalist congregations have child dedication services for infants, young adopted children, or young children whose families have recently joined the congregation.

The parents bring the child to the front of the sanctuary at a designated time in a regular Sunday worship service, and the minister presides over the ceremony. The dedication ceremony is generally a celebration of the blessing of new life, an expression of the parents' hopes for their child, and a call to the parents and the congregation's members to lead and nurture the child's spiritual life as it grows.

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What is the Coming of Age Ceremony?

Such ceremonies, marking the transition from childhood to young adult, are as old as history. They have included ritual abductions, vision quests, and bar and bat mitzvahs, all to help youth learn about themselves and prepare for adulthood.

Many Unitarian Universalist (UU) congregations mark this transition with year-long Coming of Age programs, which generally include four parts: pairing youth with adult mentors; discussions and retreats that emphasize self-awareness and confidence-building; service to the church and community; and a culminating affirmation ceremony. Learn more about Coming of Age.

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What holidays during the year do UUs celebrate?

Unitarian Universalism includes aspects of many of the world's religions. Traditional and secular holidays from various religions are celebrated together in UU congregations. Most congregations celebrate the Christian holidays, Christmas and Easter; the Jewish holidays Passover and Yom Kippur; and the Pagan Winter Solstice, among other holidays.

In addition to these traditional religious holidays, many UU congregations also honor secular holidays including Earth Day, Martin Luther King, Jr. Sunday, Mother's Day and Father's Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving. While these are not traditionally spiritual holidays, Unitarian Universalism finds spiritual meaning and affinity with our Principles in the ideas behind these and other secular holidays.

There are two holidays that many Unitarian Universalist congregations celebrate that are unique to our faith: the Flower Communion and the Water Communion. Both holidays are ceremonies that celebrate our Unitarian Universalist community and the importance of each individual's unique contributions to that community. Learn more about the Flower Communion and Water Communion.

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Is the UUC on Facebook?

Yes. You can follow the UUC on both Facebook and Twitter.

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Does the UUC have one or more listservs?

The UUC maintains two listservs: one for twice-weekly communications on timely topics specific to the UUC, and one to announce when our monthly newsletter is available online.

1. Announcement listserv: The Congregation maintains an e-mail listserv for communicating between newsletters with announcements going out on Sundays and Thursdays. It is a helpful and speedy way of broadcasting late-breaking news, announcements, and requests from and for our members and friends. Anyone with access to e-mail may subscribe to this list. If you wish to send a message to be posted to the list, send the message to our administrator. We are very aware that many people feel inundated by e-mail, so messages are forwarded to the listserv only if they are directly relevant to the Congregation. To be added to this list, email our administrator.

2. Newsletter Listserv: Each month an email goes out with a link to our online newsletter which has much information regarding the upcoming month including events, service topics, what is happening in Lifespan Faith Development, and news from our congregational community. To be added to this list, email our administrator.

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How can members and friends contribute financially to the UUC?

The UUC has an annual pledge drive in the Spring to raise money to support our mission (staff salaries, building mortgage payments, dues to our national organization, operating expenses like heating, cleaning, publications, etc). Our parent organization, the Unitarian Universalist Association, has prepared a “fair share” guide. People who are new to the UUC since the most recent pledge drive but would like to contribute to us should contact our administrator. You can also contribute using a credit card or via your checking account directly from our Fundraising webpage.

Every Sunday we pass the basket for offerings. Many use that as a means to pay some or part of their annual pledge. We do not feel it appropriate to ask first-time visitors to contribute to the offering.

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Please explain how members and friends can help the UUC by using prepaid grocery gift cards at Food Lion and by shopping at Kroger.

  • Buy a gift card for Food Lion from the Grocery Gift Card table (in Elarth Hall) during coffee after Sunday services. Food Lion donates 4% of the cost of the card back to UUC. Use the gift card like cash when shopping at the store.
  • Prior to shopping at Kroger, sign up online via a Kroger account and designate that UUC receive the “Community Rewards” based on your purchases every time you use your Kroger Plus Card.

    Directions for signing up:

    1. Go online to https://www.kroger.com/communityrewards.

    2. If you already have a Kroger account, simply login. If not, you will be asked to create one.

    3. When asked to select the organization to receive your rewards, enter Unitarian Universalist Congregation (then pick our specific congregation from the list) or organization number 89523.

    4. Now, every time you shop at Kroger, be sure to use your Kroger Plus Card. Gas and alcohol purchases are not eligible for rewards to UUC.