Church: Unity Church of Santa Barbara, 227 E. Arrellaga St.
Service Attended: Sunday, 11 a.m.
Pastor: Rev. Linda A. Morrow Spencer
Congregation Size: 160 attending
Services: Traditional worship, Sunday at 9 a.m.; contemporary music service with toddler care, Sunday at 11 a.m.; Thursday morning book study.
Contact: Call 966-2239 or visit unitysantabarbara.org.
Unity Church is an interesting mix of the traditional and the very modern. This non-denominational Christian church’s official policy is to welcome everyone, of any background and any denomination, and Rev. Morrow Spencer goes out of her way to cater to the very disparate individuals who attend Unity.
Every Sunday, for example, there are two worship services – one which is more traditional, and this Sunday included well-known hymns and the Lord’s Prayer, and one later in the morning featuring jazzy music and modern hymns. As this Sunday marked the departure of Stefana Dadas, the church’s much-beloved second-service music director, the contemporary service was all about music, and featured an original composition by Dadas, sung by her to the accompaniment of a five-piece band.
While the nine o’clock worshipers may have been more sedate, the attendees at the later service were definitely into the music – many stood, clapped their hands, and even danced a little. It’s easy to see how Dadas’s departure would be felt by many in the congregation.
One very touching aspect of Unity’s congregation is their real devotion to the principles of togetherness inherent in their church’s name. When I arrived, brightly decorated tables were already set out on Unity’s pleasant lawn, in preparation for an elaborate party to be given for Dadas once the service ended. Morrow Spencer shed a few tears when she announced the party’s purpose, and some of the musical numbers received a standing ovation from the congregation.
Unity Church of Santa Barbara is, overall, a friendly and welcoming environment. With so many churches available, most groups recognize the necessity for making some effort to include newcomers; Unity is particularly aware of this, going so far as to thank everyone in attendance for choosing their church and not another. While Unity might be unnerving to anyone accustomed to a very traditional type of Christian observance, anyone who simply wants to drop in and spend a Sunday morning of worship in pleasant company couldn’t do better than Unity.