Address

: 401 N. Kings Highway, Cherry Hill.

Denomination

: Our congregation belongs to the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA). UUA was founded in 1961 when the Unitarian and Universalist churches merged. Unitarian Universalism spans more than 400 years. Several famous Americans including Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Susan B. Anthony, Margaret Fuller, Paul Revere, Clara Barton, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Frank Lloyd Wright were Unitarians or Universalists. Unitarian Universalism is among the 20 largest religions in the world, having a worldwide membership of more than 800,000.

Size

: Approximately 325 members.

Brief history

: Formed in 1956, the Unitarian Universalist Church in Cherry Hill is now the largest UU congregation in southern New Jersey. Facilities include the sanctuary, built in 2002, where services are held, and a 3,500-square-foot fellowship hall, which incorporates buildings from the 1800s. Our church is nestled on 17 acres, including a 13-acre arboretum.

Staff

: The Rev. Walter Braman, interim congregational minister; Ken Ewan, music director; Cynthia Rivas, coordinator of lifespan religious education; Wayne and Genny Morris, resident caretakers.

What makes you proud of your house of worship?

Outreach. We're proud of our congregation's long-running involvement in service to the community. Ongoing outreach programs include support for fair housing in New Jersey; BookMates, which focuses help to an elementary school in Camden; involvement in the Interfaith Homeless Outreach Committee; and collection and distribution efforts for area food banks and pantries.

For Martin Luther King Day, UU volunteers helped at New Visions homeless service center in Camden. Our annual Community Outreach Weekend involves the entire congregation in service to several charitable organizations. In an effort to bring action to our beliefs, we've organized task forces. For example, the Environmental Task Force supports recycling and other "green" practices, and Journey Toward Wholeness examines institutional racism.

In support of the UUA's wider mission, we partner with a Unitarian church in Szekelyderz, Romania. Last summer several of our members visited Romania and clergy from our partner church visited here in return. A January fund-raising dinner provides local cuisine, support, kinship and reminds us of religious roots that go back to the 1500s in this part of the world.

Creating community from diverse beliefs: Several smaller communities within UUCCH support our diversity including, among others, fellowship groups, Buddhist Sangha, Womyn in Religion, Secular UUs, Native American spirituality, Pagans, Sanctuary and Interweave. Current or recent courses and forums support transcendence in our personal lives and service to the world at large, such as New UUs, Support for Darfur, Amnesty International, Morning Book Discussion, a Spiritual Approach to Emotional Intelligence, the Artist's Way and many others. Many programs are open to nonmembers, as well as members, and most are free or charge a nominal fee. Lay Caring is our group that ministers to individual members in time of need.

Supporting the Arts: We have ongoing displays, including our hosting of the Eyes Wide Open exhibit last summer and regularly scheduled movie and discussion nights. Music is central to our worship, and we have an active and dedicated choir and hand bell chorus, in addition to hosting periodic theatrical and musical events and salons. In an effort to provide more meaningful social activities, we were the home of one of the largest singles groups in South Jersey for many years and sponsored the Circlewood Café.

Focus on Children: Our religious education program cares for children of all ages, from the infant and toddler room all the way up to the YA! program for older teens. Providing larger facilities to our religious education (RE) classes was one of the primary driving forces in our recently completed "Building Our Dream" expansion program. Unitarian Universalist RE is unique because, in addition to teaching about our faith, we help children build openness to the richness of many religious traditions.

How do you see your congregation's role in your community or in today's society as a whole?

As a congregation, we are dedicated to spiritual growth and personal transformation to make our ideals of tolerance, caring and compassion a reality in our everyday lives, and within the larger community. We make no creedal requirements of members, except to covenant with the seven principles of the UUA. This draws widely from meaningful spiritual teachings from humanism, as well as the world's great religious traditions and philosophies. We provide sanctuary - a safe and accepting environment - for the expression of individuality and welcome all who value and honor the richness of diversity.

Worship schedule:

10:15 a.m. Sunday.

Phone:

856-667-3618.

Web site:

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Thank you,

Cynthia Henry

Neighbors editor