What Visitors Can Expect
Are You New to Our Congregation?
The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Greater Naples (UUCGN) is a vibrant, welcoming, spiritual community of religious seekers. Our congregation provides a safe haven where all are free to search for and create meaning as part of their individual spiritual journey. We gather here to nurture our spirits and put our faith into action through social justice work in our local community and the wider world. We help our children develop their spiritual curiosity, exposing them to the great religions without indoctrinating them in a particular set of beliefs.
Your First Visit
Visiting a new congregation can feel pretty adventurous to most people. We want your experience with us to be as comfortable as possible, so here’s some information that may help.
What does it mean to be a UU?
Unitarian Universalism is a non-creedal faith. This means that no one is asked to recite or commit to a statement of belief. Every person is entitled to, and indeed supported in, a free and responsible search for truth and meaning. In other words, we honor one another’s spiritual and religious journeying. We honor the free faith tradition.
Does that mean you can believe anything you want?
UUs understand that with freedom comes great responsibility. Our beliefs and personal truths come from our experiences and understanding of the world. We pay attention to the scientific world view and engage in critical thinking. One of our ministers put it this way, “The source of our authority is the evidence of our experience, refined through reason and the free church tradition and tested in community.”
Where can I learn more about Unitarian Universalism?
You can learn more about Unitarian Universalism and our Principles and Sources in the “Learn More” section of this website.
What does it mean that you are a Welcoming Congregation?
According to the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA):
“We know that religious spaces haven’t always been welcoming places for all people, especially when it comes to gender and sexuality. We are out to change that. For 25 years we have worked hard to make sure lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people are full members of our faith communities. Being welcoming means striving for radical inclusion, and creating spaces that honor every part of our identities, backgrounds, and experiences.”
We are proud that UUCGN has been a 10+ year Honor Congregation in the Welcoming Congregation program.
Where are you located? Where do I park?
UUCGN is located at 6340 Napa Woods Way, Naples, FL 34116, just off Pine Ridge Rd, near the Pine Ridge entrance and exit ramps to I-75. View a map and directions here. Handicap and general parking is available near the building; a number of “Courtesy Parking” spaces near the main entrance are also available, reserved for those who may need easy access. General parking is also available on either side of the road leading to the building, except in areas noted as “No Parking.”
What happens when I enter the building?
When you arrive, you’ll be met on the walkway leading to the lobby by our greeters and asked to fill out a name badge. As you walk through our lobby, please feel free to pick up literature about us and Unitarian Universalism in general. You will see bulletin boards and newsletters announcing the latest happenings at UUCGN. You can find a preview of upcoming events in Weekly Highlights. As you enter the sanctuary to be seated, you will be offered an Order of Service and the UUCGN Weekly News insert, which lists the upcoming week’s events.
How many services do you offer?
We hold a single Sunday morning service at 10:00 am.
We will hold two Sunday morning services during season (November through April, at 10:00 am and 11:30 am).
What is a typical Sunday morning service like?
The Sunday morning service lasts approximately 1 hour. In more detail:
Starting June 2, a single worship service and religious exploration program for children and youths will begin at 10:00 am on Sunday mornings. This single schedule will last until the end of October and will be the only program offering during the summer ("off season") months.
From November through April, a second service will be offered that will begin at 11:30. This second service time will not include Religious Exploration classes, however.
Between mid-September and mid-May, preceding the services will be the Sunday Forum. Many of our members, as well as guests and visitors, attend. The program features a speaker from within our congregation or the community-at-large who presents a topic of current interest. The Forum will start up again on September 22, and will convene at 9:00 am, and end at 9:45 am. This way, that attendees can make their way to the sanctuary for the early service. Visitors are most welcome!
The sounding of the singing bowl announces the start of service. The service begins with a welcome and announcements, and leads into the musical prelude; the service ends by approximately 11:00 am. Our Sunday services include a variety of instrumental music, hymn singing, readings, and a sermon. Joys and Concerns are a part of the Sunday service as well, where a microphone is brought to you and you are given a chance to share the joys and sorrows in your life that week. Children begin the morning in the sanctuary with the adults through the "Story for All Ages" portion of the worship service, and then go with their teachers to the classrooms for the remainder of the worship hour.
At the end of the service, our minister welcomes all our members, their guests, children, and visitors to gather on the pavilion, overlooking our beautiful gardens and natural playground, for coffee/iced tea/lemonade, light refreshments, and conversation. It is a great opportunity in a relaxed atmosphere to meet our community and ask any questions you may have. A table is set aside on the pavilion for visitors and new members if you would like to speak with someone from our Membership committee.
Can I bring my children?
Children are welcome! We have a growing and vibrant youth and parent community at UUCGN. Our Youth Religious Exploration (YRE) program takes place on Sunday mornings.
If you are bringing a child or children, we suggest you plan to arrive around fifteen minutes prior to the service start time so you can meet our Director of Lifespan Religious Exploration (DLRE), Mary Borland. She will tell you what is happening that morning in YRE and explain to your children what to expect. At this time, you will also be able to see where the children will be during the latter part of the service.
Except in a few instances, children and their parents start in the service together. At the “Moment for All Ages,” our minister, Rev. Tony Fisher, welcomes the children to the front and often tells a story that relates to the sermon and introduces the lesson the children will be learning in the YRE program that day.
The children are “sung out” after the Story for All Ages and led to the classrooms in the YRE wing. They first gather as a group, then break into their classrooms for their YRE lesson with their teachers.
There is a table set aside on the pavilion where children are supervised and can draw or play games while parents are socializing over coffee during the social time following the service.
What should I wear?
If you decide to visit us for a service, you (and your children) will feel most comfortable dressing in “Florida casual.”
Is your building disability accessible, and what other accommodations do you offer?
Yes, the building is disability accessible. We also provide large-print hymnals, print copies of the service, and audio assistance devices for our services.
In addition to the reserved handicapped parking, UUCGN has a number of “Courtesy Parking” spaces near the church main entrance that are marked and reserved for those who may need easy access.
How do I get my other questions answered?
There are lots of ways to find out more:
Join a Fellowship Circle or talk with other families.
Check out our Resource Library, which has many books available to borrow.
Call us at (239) 455-6553 or email our office. We’re happy to help you find the answers you seek. Newcomer orientations are offered several times during the year and are scheduled on Sundays after the last service. Orientation lasts about 2 hours, includes a light lunch, and childcare is provided. Contact the office or speak with Rev. Tony Fisher to learn more.