Countryside Unitarian Universalist Congregation: Communicating Mission Through Image

By the time I walked into the Countryside Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Palatine, Illinois, the congregation had already communicated well with me from the street outside and from the parking lot. Their signage was visible from the road, and handsome. A large, elegant flaming chalice, symbol of Unitarian Universalism, was visible on their chimney. When I walked into the side entrance I saw bulletin boards with neatly arranged current fliers announcing interesting programs. One flier I happened to notice as I walked by featured an image of a Palestinian and Israeli youth with their arms around each other. Signs on the doors let me know exactly where I was (the religious education wing) and pointed me where I needed to go.  As I walked down the hallway I stopped to appreciate a beautiful glass display case full of worship objects from a variety of world traditions. The environment was peaceful, clean and accessible.

Bam. Without speaking to anyone (it was early on a Saturday morning), I had learned a ton about the congregation’s values and general health. The building itself communicated the congregation’s purpose in existing in November of 2012. Of course it helps that the building itself is contemporary and well-maintained, but those things can only take a congregation so far in communicating congregational vitality and purpose.

Here’s what I especially wanted to show you, because I think this is a great idea. When you walk out of the sanctuary on Sunday mornings, you are greeted by a fellowship hall that is organized around the pillars of this congregation’s life together. Check it out. Notice how the signage creates a consistent visual language that communicates congregational unity of mission across the five major areas of ministry. Subtle and smart. You know why? Because it says, “Worship and learning and service and stewardship are all integrated in this congregation.” How many times do you walk into a church fellowship hall for coffee hour and see all the sort of “special interest” tables? The impression you get is of being at a marketplace with all the various merchants competing for your attention and your dollar. Here, the visual consistency across the space announces that these areas of programmatic interest are all elements within one integrated system. That’s important and impressive.

(Click on the images to enlarge)

Worship

Study

Foundations (Stewardship and Legacy)

Kinship

Lovely word to use! Very interesting choice.


This is the place that helps folks connect. It contains this cute Visitor’s Corner image and yellow mugs on it for newcomers, and lots of information about how to connect with the congregation and Unitarian Universalism. Lots of denominational swag nicely displayed.

There was a Service table too, but I guess I didn’t get a photo of it.

Well-done, UUs of Palatine. You’re using your space to speak for you, and it’s saying good things.


6 Replies to “Countryside Unitarian Universalist Congregation: Communicating Mission Through Image”

  1. Thanks for sharing this. It’s a very helpful model and so much easier to show people than to explain.

    The yellow mugs are so simple, but a fabulous idea in a busy place.

  2. Thanks!!! You read our signals right and we are constantly striving for a holistic (not totalistic) vision. And how to communicate that clearly is always on our minds. I am grateful for your insight and feedback and glad to pass this back to the congregation!

  3. Thanks as well. Glad you liked our facility. Over the past decades we’ve had outstanding pastoral leadership with Dr. Lovely and Rev. Krivchenia. It shows. 😉

  4. Victoria,

    Would you permit me to link to this blog entry on InterConnections, the UUA newsletter?

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