SENIOR MINISTER: The Rev. Robert Hardies

CONGREGATION SIZE: 780

SERVICE LENGTH: 62 minutes

POSTSERVICE KIBiTZING LENGTH: 26 minutes

SAMPLE WORSHIPPER DRESS: Jean shorts, a white Oxford shirt, and Velcro sandals

CHOIRS: 3

CONGREGATIONAL FERVOR

Visitors, as well as a few regulars, stop at the “welcome table” before and after the service to get name tags. Between hymns from the Unitarian Universalist hymnal,

congregants—including Jews, Christians, and Buddhists—greet each other with handshakes and hugs. “I like to think that we have 780 members but 900 versions of what God means,” says welcoming coordinator Kevin Rosseel.

FOOD FOR THE SOUL

The sermon, titled “Born Again and Again and Again,” critiqued both the religious right with its “born again” bumper stickers and liberals for being “sometimes complacent about the need for people to experience transformation in their lives.” Says Hardies: “When a loved one dies and we find the strength to go on, we are born again. When we come out of the closet and find the strength to be openly gay or lesbian, we are born again.”

FOOD FOR THE BODY

No food or drinks are currently being served. Sunday lunches begin after Labor Day.

OVERALL WORSHIP POWER RATING

Congregants failed to make a rush for the door when the service came to an end; dozens chatted in the pews for nearly a half-hour afterward. While Unitarians lack definitive religious tenets, All Souls houses an inquisitive flock. Explains Rosseel, “People get charged up after they hear [Hardies] speak. Then they want to ask questions.”

Art accompanying story in the printed newspaper is not available in this archive: Photograph by Darrow Montgomery.

More from WCP