Amongst the idyllic beauty of Sarasota’s foliage lined streets is the beautifully manicured gardens and sanctuary of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Sarasota, Florida. With our motorhome settled in under a magnificent tree, Austin and I enjoyed a peaceful and gratifying weekend on the grounds.
The UUC of Sarasota has the largest membership in Florida and on this Sunday the sanctuary was literally standing room only for the 11:00 service. New to the church in 2012, the Rev. Roger Fritts is a charismatic speaker that draws one in comfortably to the warm atmosphere of the community. Speaking on Buddhism, as a part of an ongoing World Religions series, Rev. Fritts blended meditative readings, music, and the roots of the religion with a playful touch of humor. A popular belief system among Unitarians, he went on to explain the Buddhist belief that as we do not have souls, our rebirths are resultant from the “inexhaustible force of karma” that keeps us tied to the confines of physical being. Also similar to the UU chalice symbol as a focus within our sanctuaries is the Buddhist centering on the light or lamp within ourselves.
When visiting UUCS, one must take the time to tour the campus which easily fills an hour when taken in fully. The sanctuary, designed by architect Tollyn Twitchell, brings warmth into the space using a cypress beamed ceiling over glass and Ocala stone walls, and topped at the ends with stained glass windows by artist Syd Solomon. Opposite the sanctuary, and on the other side of the courtyard, is the office building which also holds a meeting space and art gallery in the Lexow Wing courtesy of the UUCS Arts Council. But not to be outdone is the magnificent Memorial Garden on the west side of the sanctuary, a sacred space tended to in memory of those lost to the community. Even in winter, the garden is full of colorful and fragrant blooms in tribute to the many gifts the earth provides.
For more information on attending the UUC of Sarasota: http://www.uusarasota.com/
To learn about Buddhism in Sarasota, visit: http://www.meditationinsarasota.org/
UUSC Art Gallery with hours for viewing: http://www.uusarasota.com/our-church/art-gallery.php
Architecture and photos of the inner sanctuary: http://www.uusarasota.com/our-church/architecture.php