Where We Pray: St. John's Unitarian Universalist offers 'high energy' commitment to social justice

CINCINNATI - The Tri-State is rich in the number and variety of houses of worship. In our weekly feature, WCPO shines the spotlight on where we pray.

St. John’s Unitarian Universalist Church

  • Address: 320 Resor Ave, Cincinnati
  • Denomination: Unitarian Universalist
  • Top Clergy: Rev. Mitra Jafarzadeh
  • Size of Congregation: 230
  • Affiliations: Unitarian Universalist Association

Core Beliefs: Unitarian Universalism is born from Jewish and Christian traditions, but has room for many beliefs. It holds personal experience, reason and conscience as the final religious authorities and ethical living as the ultimate witness of religion.

Church members pledge to follow Seven Principles.

  1. The inherent worth and dignity of every person
  2. Justice, equity and compassion in human relations
  3. Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in its congregations
  4. A free and responsible search for truth and meaning
  5. The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within the congregation and in society at large
  6. The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all
  7. Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which the church is a part

"Exuberant" may be a good word to describe the spirit of St. John’s. 

"Once upon a time I prayed that I would find a high energy church with healthy programming, a deep commitment to social justice and an active volunteer base," said Rev. Mitra Jafarzadeh. "I was delighted to find St. John’s!" 

Jafarzadeh said Unitarian Universalism draws on many religious traditions, welcoming people with different beliefs. It unites people by shared values, not by creed or dogma. 

Diana Long, president of the church's board of trustees, found a church home at St. John's two decades ago.

"Our congregation is a place where people gather to nurture their spirits and put their faith into action by helping to make our communities—and the world—a better place," Long said. "I found St. John’s 20 years ago when searching for a place to give my daughters a spiritual foundation. The girls are now grown, but St. John’s is still my spiritual home. I love the sense of community here."


St. John’s is celebrating 200 years of providing sanctuary and service. In 1814, Moravian missionary Joseph Zaeslin gathered German Protestants and Catholics alike to worship together in Cincinnati’s first German language church services.

In 1849, St. John’s Pastor August Kroell led a group of German Protestants to found The General Protestant Orphan Home (now Beech Acres) in response to a devastating cholera epidemic. In 1868, St. John’s growing congregation moved into a new church building at 12th and Elm Streets in Over-the-Rhine, the heart of Cincinnati’s German community. St. John’s moved from Over-the-Rhine to its current site in Clifton in In 1952, where it is an active part of the community and of Greater Cincinnati.

More about St. John's:

  • Dress is casual. Some people dress more formally and that's fine too.
  • Handicapped parking, a ramp into the church, and a lift into the sanctuary. Large print orders-of-service and assistive listening devices are available
  • Interfaith Hospitality Network (serving homeless families)
  • Green sanctuary (environmental issues)
  • Friends of Szentlaszlo (assisting partner church in Romania)
  • GLBT welcoming congregation
  • Immigration reform
  • Peacemaking Initiative
  • Outreach grants to area nonprofits

Services: Sunday 11:00 a.m.

A typical service includes thoughtful readings, musical performances, singing together, and a sermon by the minister. Children’s Religious Exploration classes and teen classes take place during the service. Childcare is available for younger children.

Most Sundays there are forums on current and relevant topics at 10:00 a.m. After services you’ll find a cup of fair trade coffee and good conversation.

Connect online: Website  & Facebook  Telephone: (513) 961-1938

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