Documentation for the UUA WordPress Theme for Congregations

Getting Started with the UUA Theme

Here's what you need to know before you install the WordPress theme, along with an installation checklist.

Download the UUA WordPress Theme

Before you download and install the UUA Theme for Congregations, make sure you’re ready. See this checklist for installing the theme.

The WordPress theme and UUA Service Plugin are digital goods sold for $100. (UUA Honor Congregations can request a coupon code for $50 off.) Security updates and patches are currently free and are released on an as needed basis.

NOTICE: We're currently in the process of switching payment service providers. If you are interested in purchasing the theme, please contact Please allow for 2-3 business days to process the request. 

Getting Help

If your congregation has downloaded the theme before and need to re-download it, contact the UUA Outreach staff at If you’re in our database of users we’ll help you download it again at no charge.

If you are working on behalf of a UUA Honor Congregation and you do not have access to the coupon code, contact the UUA Annual Program Fund staff at

Installation Checklist for the UUA Theme

Once you’ve decided you want to implement the UUA WordPress theme for congregational websites, follow these steps.


  1. Gather information and make sure you’ve got the know-how: check out What You Need to Know.
  2. If your congregation already uses WordPress for its website, read Using the UUA Theme with an Existing WordPress Site.
  3. Set up a staging environment for your new site on a web server. (You don’t want to do the setup live on your site!) This guide from tells you how to set up such an environment.

Installing WordPress:

  1. Download and install WordPress on to your staging environment.
  2. Do these WordPress setup tasks, including setting up user accounts for the people who will be maintaining your new site.

Installing the UUA Theme:

  1. Follow these detailed instructions to buy, upload, and activate the UUA WordPress Theme.
  2. Install the WordPress plugins that the UUA theme requires.

Configure our Site, Building Content, and Maintenance:

See the Configuration Checklist, Building Your Website Content, and Page-by-Page Guidance sections of the documentation.

Optional: The UUA Theme provides a certain number of configuration options. If you need to customize your website beyond the options provided, you’ll need to edit the code of the theme. Read this guidance on customization and Child Themes.

Watch the Video

See how it happens! Watch Christopher Wulff demonstrate creating a website with the Theme (download the MP4 file) in this November 21st, 2015 recorded webinar.

What You Need to Know Before Installing the UUA Theme

Technical Skills

Installing the UUA Theme (or any WordPress theme) requires some technical expertise. If you aren't familiar with the following topics, look for someone in your congregation who is. You may need to hire a WordPress consultant just to set you up. You (or someone) need to be able to:

  • work with your web hosting company to administer a website
  • use an FTP (File Transfer Protocol) program to transfer files to your web server (using an FTP program like FileZilla)
  • configure a WordPress site
  • use PHPMyAdmin (a web-based way to look at the database that contains the content and settings for your website) or use SQL commands at the mySQL command line
  • use CSS (cascading style sheets) and HTML

Here are ways to get more information about WordPress.

Gathering Information

Before you begin to set up your WordPress site, you can begin creating content for the site.

Find out who currently maintains your site and gather the list of names and email addresses of the people who will need accounts on our new WordPress site. Consider what level of permission they’ll need. Learn more about user levels and permissions from

Then you can proceed with the next step on our checklist.

Using the UUA Theme with an Existing WordPress Site

What if your congregation already has a WordPress site? You can apply the UUA Theme to the site, adding the features that the theme provides. You’ll need to adjust the configuration settings for your site after you apply the new theme.

We can’t provide step by step instructions, because your tasks will depend on what theme and plugins you are already using. Here are some resources:

The Cutover to the New Site

One thing to keep in mind is the timing of DNS (domain name service) changes, which controls what site is served at a particular web address. If continuity of service, and consistency of your database are important to you, you want to minimize the time period when there are some DNS records pointing to the old server, and some to the new.

When you are ready to switch from the old site to the new one, the process should be something like this:

  • set the TTL (Time to Live) for the DNS for your domain name to a small time, like one hour
  • set the old site to standby mode
  • copy the code, files, and database to the new site
  • bring up the new site and test that it’s working right
  • put a redirect on the old site (with logging if you can)
  • change the DNS records so your domain name points to the new site

After a while (days or weeks, watch the logs):

  • turn off the old site, or put a redirect from the old site to the new one
  • set the TTL on the DNS records to normal

(Thanks to Miles Fidelman for this process.)

WordPress Setup Tasks Before Installing the UUA Theme

Congregational Website Forum

By UUA Information Technology Service Staff Group: Web Team

Ask questions here about the UUA WordPress Theme for Congregations or any congregational website. To receive email notifications about new posts and comments, click a Subscribe link at the bottom of this page, or of individual discussion pages....

Congregational Website Forum

So, you’ve downloaded and installed WordPress (or are maybe reviewing the setup that already exists). Now what?

(If you haven’t yet set up WordPress, see What You Need to Know.)

Configure WordPress Before Installing the Theme

Before installing the theme and the plugins and importing content, there are a few things you should do. Then you’ll be ready to install the UUA Theme.

  1. Add your site title and tagline under Settings > General.
  2. Set your timezone (this is important for the services especially, so they know when things have expired or need to go live).
  3. Change the permalink structure on your site. WordPress defaults to a pretty ugly URL structure, so go to Settings > Permalinks and choose a different one (we recommend just using ‘post name’).
  4. Create a page called Home and make it your front page on Settings > Reading.
  5. Add your site icon, or favicon, the little image that shows on the tabs in your browser. Find this under Appearance > Customize. You’ll need a 512px square image to upload.
  6. Choose your settings for comments (whether they are on or off by default, require administrative approval, etc.) under Settings > Discussion. Under “Default article settings” you can uncheck “Allow people to post comments on new articles” if you don’t want to enable people to post comments about your news posts. (You can override this setting for individual new posts.)

Create User Accounts

For a New WordPress Site

Right now you are probably logged in as the Admin user that WordPress created on installation. Make a careful note of the password, and then plan never to use it again! Instead, each person who maintains the site should log in with their own account, so you know who has done what and can assign different permissions for different people.

Create an account for yourself by choosing Users > Add New. Enter a username (how about your first initial and last name?) and a password. Make yourself an administrator. In future, log in with your own account, not as Admin. (Hint: Install KeePass on your congregation’s office computer, store all your congregation’s passwords in it, and keep a backup.)

If you plan to import the sample content from the site, you’ll need to have created an account other than Admin to be the owner of the imported pages.

For an Existing WordPress Site

If you are applying the UUA Theme to an existing site, the existing accounts will still be there.

For Everyone

When adding users, try to give people the fewest permissions possible; don’t make someone an Administrator unless they need to be able to edit everything on the site. People will be more comfortable working on the site if they know they can’t break it. Most of your content-providing members can be either Authors or Editors (basically Authors can write and edit their own content, while Editors can write and edit their own content plus the content of others).

For more information about user roles, read WP Business Tips’ article Understanding User Roles and Capabilities in WordPress.

If you want more fine-grained control over your user roles, install Justin Tadlock’s Members plugin. It will give you control over role capabilities as well as creating the ability for you to make some content on your site visible only to logged in users. You can create a members-only page for example, or have the registration form for a program visible to logged-in users.

Set Up Backups

It is vital that you make regular backups of your site, including:

  • the WordPress program files (including the theme and plugins)
  • the database in which WordPress stores all the text content of your site, along with your WordPress configuration settings
  • the images, PDFs, DOCs, and other files on the site

Check with your web hosting company that they make regular (daily) backups of these three things.

A number of WordPress plugins do backups.

Return to the checklist to install the UUA theme.

Uploading and Activating the UUA WordPress Theme

When you’ve got WordPress installed and configured, follow these steps:

  1. Download the theme to your computer. Once you've purchased it on our website, you'll receive an e-mail with your unique download link from "UUA Outreach" ( Check your spam box if you don't see it in your inbox. Click the link to download the zip file named Do not unzip it. Note where it’s located on your computer: the default location for most computers is in your Downloads folder.
  2. Log in to your WordPress website as administrator. You can get there by going to a login page at <your site’s URL>/wp-admin/. If you have not yet installed WordPress, follow these previous steps.)
  3. When you have logged in and can see your administrative dashboard, go to Appearance > Themes. Click “Add New” at the top, just to the right of the header.
WordPress Themes page, for adding a new theme
  1. You’ll see the Add Themes screen. Click the “Upload Theme” button at the top, just to the right of the header. Choose the ZIP file you just downloaded and click “Install Now.” WordPress uploads the theme, unzips it, and installs it, which takes a few minutes.
    Troubleshooting: If you see the message “The uploaded file exceeds the upload_max_filesize directive in php.ini” then you need to increase this limit, as described in this article. If you see a message like “Unable to create directory wp-content/uploads/<something>” then your account doesn’t have permission to save the file on the server.
"Upload Theme" button on the Add Themes page
  1. You’ll then see a screen that confirms that the theme installed correctly. 
    Troubleshooting: If WordPress asks for FTP credentials, then PHP is running as the Apache user (mod_php or CGI) rather than the user that owns your WordPress files.
Confirmation message after uploading and installing a WordPress theme
  1. Click Activate. You’ll then see a screen that looks like this, telling you the theme is installed and guiding you to install the plugins. Go to next steps after activating the theme to learn about installing and activating plugins.
WordPress Themes page after activating the UUA Theme

Installing the Required WordPress Plugins

You got WordPress installed, did the first configuration tasks, and installed the UUA theme. The next step is to install the plugins that come with the Theme.

Note: The plugins that are required by the theme depend on the version of the theme you are installing. Early versions of the theme required plugins that have not been maintained, so we have updated the theme to work with better plugins. Refer to the current list of required plugins.

  1. Install the required plugins. Your screen, just after installation, looks like it does below (click the image to see a larger version). The Dashboard lists options down the left side of the page. Click “Begin Installing Plugins.”
WordPress Themes page after activating the UUA Theme
  1. You see a page where you can install all the theme’s plugins. Click the topmost checkbox to select all of them, set the Bulk Actions box to Install, and click Apply.
Installing the plugins required by the UUA Theme
  1. You then see a page that looks like this at the top and bottom. When the plugins have installed, scroll to the bottom and click “Return to Required Plugins Installer.”
WordPress confirms that you have installed plugins
  1. Activate the plugins. The page looks like the listing below. Activate all the plugins by clicking the topmost checkbox, setting the Bulk Actions box to Activate, and clicking Apply.
Activating the WordPress plugins
  1. You see a message that indicates that there are no more plugins to install. Click “Return to the Dashboard.”

Return to the Checklist for Configuring Your Website to add site-wide information, choose your color scheme, load sample content, and continue to build your site.​

Adding Content from the UUA WordPress Theme Demo Site

Adding content from the UUA Theme Demo Site is a great way to get a jumpstart on building your site. The menus and text have all been tested with users and will get you headed down the right track. You can download a file containing all the content from the demo site, minus the content in the widgets on the homepage, in the sidebars, and the footer.

We encourage you to personalize your downloaded content to make your site show up higher in the list in local Google searches.

Note: Be sure to install the UUA theme before importing the content or you’ll get a lot of “content can’t be imported errors.”

Follow these steps:

  1. Make a backup of your WordPress database. Importing the sample content may overwrite pages that you’d like to keep. If you have a backup, you can restore the backup to put your site content back the way it was before the import.
  2. Download the Sample UUA Theme Content File (right-click on the link and choose Save Link As). This file, which is called something like yourunitarianuniversalistcongregation.wordpress.xml includes all the pages, posts, menus, etc. Note that it does not include the widgets, so you’ll need to set those up separately.
  3. In the WordPress dashboard, go to Tools > Import. If this is the first time you’ve imported content into WordPress, you’ll probably need to install the WordPress Importer Plugin first: Under the WordPress heading, click “Install Now”. The link changes to be “Run Importer”; click it again to start the import process.
  4. Upload the file you previously downloaded. Click “Choose File” or “Browse” to specify the file and then click “Upload file and import”.
  5. Assign the content from that site’s users to your own users. WordPress detects that the imported pages and posts belong to users that do not exist on your site, and asks you which user to assign them to. Choose an existing username, or create a new one. Click Submit.
    Note: Do not check the box to import attached files (we don’t have rights for you to use those images on your own site).
  6. Visit your Settings > Permalinks page to refresh the permalinks (not always necessary). Strangely, just visiting this page accomplishes this. There’s nothing to click.

Finding WordPress Help

Using WordPress

Ask general WordPress questions here. Be sure to try the many other sources of WordPress help available.

Using WordPress

WordPress help is never hard to find. There are many sites dedicated to helping WordPress users, including the WordPress Codex and the always-helpful forums. With so much content available, however, how are you to know where to begin looking for help?

The WordPress FAQ is a good place to start, providing comprehensive answers to common questions. You could also read about using the WordPress forums to help you get better results from your support requests.

However, the best place to start looking for WordPress help is your favorite search engine. This is usually the quickest way to get the information you need, and helps to take the pressure off our hard-working volunteers in the support forums.

You can increase your search capabilities by adding the Codex Searcher Plugin, enabling you to search the Codex from your WordPress Administration Panels. Click on a search result and the page will open in a new window or tab, allowing you to have articles open while working on WordPress.

Searching the Web for WordPress Help

Finding the words to accurately describe your problem can be a challenge when searching for help. In addition, you may need to limit your search to WordPress resources or sites in order to get the information you need. The following section will show you how to choose the right search terms, and how to use those terms effectively.

Search Using Keywords

Sometimes you can use error messages to generate the keywords needed in your help search. For example:

Warning: main(/home/atlantis/public_html/wp-includes/ functions.php): failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /home/stargateatlantis/ public_html/wp-settings.php on line 67 Fatal error: main(): Failed opening required '/home/atlantis/public_html/wp-includes/ functions.php' (include_path='.:/usr/lib/php: /usr/local/lib/php') in /home/stargateatlantis/ public_html/wp-settings.php on line 67

The key words you need to help you solve the problem are hidden within this information. In particular, the error specifically references the files that are causing the issue: functions.php and wp-settings.php. The names of these files will make up part of your search.

You could try opening the files directly to examine them. However, this may be of limited use, as the given line numbers may not correspond to the actual source of the error due to the way WordPress processes .php files.

The specific errors are failed to open stream and failed opening required, with both happening inside the wp-settings.php file. This indicates that the problem is likely with wp-settings.php rather than functions.php. The fact that both errors contain the words “failed” and “open” is another clue.

Armed with this information, create a search in your favorite search engine that includes the words:

wordpress failed open wp-settings.php

This should get you started on narrowing down the problem.

Consultants with Experience with the Theme

If your congregation needs help, here are some consultants that have helped other congregations with setting up and maintaining their websites with the UUA Theme:

Known Issues with the UUA WordPress Theme

First Steps to Try

If you are having trouble with the UUA WordPress Theme for Congregations, follow these steps before asking for help:

Update the theme and the UUA Services plugin to the latest versions. Follow these instructions if you haven't done so since updating from the original version 1.0.

Turn off any ad blockers or popup blockers in your browser.

See how the page looks in another browser. (If you usually use Chrome, see how it looks in Firefox, Safari, Edge, or Internet Explorer.)

Log into the site and disable any plugins other than those that are recommended for use with the theme.

Here are the open issues that we know about. If you are having trouble with your WordPress site, try the steps listed in the sidebar.

WordPress 5.5

If you have upgraded to WordPress 5.5. be sure to upgrade the theme to version 1.3.2 or later.

Older Versions of PHP

Versions of PHP (the programming language in which WordPress is written) older than version 7.2 may cause problems. Here's an article about checking your PHP version and upgrading.

CPT Carousel: Switch to MetaSlider

Before version 1.3.0, we recommended the CPT Carousel for displaying a carousel (slider) on your homepage and other pages. Issues:

  • Sometimes its images don't line up.
  • It hasn't been updated in three years.

See its information page for questions and answers to some configuration issues. Starting with 1.3.0, we recommend using the MetaSlider plugin to display carousels. Here's how to switch.

Google Calendars

If you opt to use Google calendars instead of the Events module, embedded calendars don't resize nicely. Consider using the Simple Calendar plugin to solve this problem.

Service Topics Don't Display on Service Listings

If we fix this, we might also create a shortcode that would list services for one topic.

Sidebars on Event Pages

Individual event pages don't display the same sidebar shown on the events listing page; they display the default primary sidebar.

Upgrading to the Latest Version of the UUA WordPress Theme

Here’s what you need to do to upgrade your congregation’s website from a previous version to latest version.

1. Make a backup

Create a backup of the entire site, in case things go wrong and you need to return the site to the state it’s in before you started the upgrade.

If you haven’t already done so, consider installing a backup plugin, such as BackWPUp. Here is an article that reviews a number of widely-used WordPress plugins that make it easy to create regular backups of your site. If you’re on a better host (like WP Engine or Flywheel) there will likely be an option to create a site snapshot.

2. Update to version 1.3.3

Look for a message in the Dashboard (Appearance > Themes) about the update being available. Click Update to update to the new version. WordPress will download the new version and install it. If you are not sure which version you are using, hover over the theme picture on the Appearance > Themes page and click “Theme Details”.

If your site is not set up to do updates through the Dashboard, you can download the theme files and use SFTP to manually upload it to the wp-content/themes directory, replacing the one that’s there.

3. Display a site-wide banner if needed

Version 1.3.1 adds the ability to display a banner at the top of every page on the site.

4. Test out the site

Click around the site to check that everything looks right.

If not, you have the option of restoring your backup from step 1.

Configuring Your Congregational Website Using the UUA WordPress Theme

Here are the steps for configuring your website after installing the theme.

Configuration Checklist for the UUA WordPress Theme

Once you have WordPress, the UUA Theme, and the necessary plugins installed, you need to configure settings that affect the website as a whole. After that, you can set up individual pages.

The Dashboard

The WordPress Dashboard

To configure your site, log in as an administrator (at http://<your-domain-name>/wp-admin). You see the Dashboard down the left side of the page and an admin menu across the top, both with black backgrounds. The Dashboard is where you’ll find the configuration commands you’ll need. The admin menu has a small subset of the commands you’ll use once the site is configured.

Configuration Settings

Here’s a list of site-wide configuration settings and how to set them.

Further Customization

Configuring Your Congregation’s Information, Logo, and Colors

Customization options for the UUA Theme

To enter your congregations’s name, address, logo, color scheme, and background, choose Appearance > Customize from the Dashboard. (Or, choose Customize from the admin menu at the top.) You see the customization menu down the left side of the page.

As you make changes to these options, you can click the Save button at the top and then see how your changes look.

Tip: Open a second browser window (Ctrl-N or Cmd-N) or a new tab (Ctrl-T or Cmd-T) and look at your site there. Reload the page (Ctrl-R or Cmd-R) to see your changes.

Theme Color Options: Choose Dark Blue, Grey Red, or Aqua Green. These colors appear in the header text and the background of the main menu. If you use the default UUA-logo-tile wallpaper as your background, its color changes, too. *See bottom of page for hex codes.

Congregation information: Enter your address. Don’t enter a P.O. box; this address displays a Google Map to your congregation in the Utility (header) menu at the top of each page.

Header Options: Here’s where you enter your congregation’s logo (if you have one) and text to appear on the righthand side of the header on each page.

If your congregation has a logo, you can display it in the header of each page. However, you have to make a version of the logo that includes your congregation name (and tagline, if you want one), formatted to be horizontal. This logo replaces the congregation name and tagline in the header. You can use a paint program, or even a word processor and a screen capture program, to make an image of your logo and your congregation name. Then click “Select image” under the Logo Image heading and upload your logo file.

If you don’t have a logo, or don’t have one formatted to include your congregation name, leave the Logo Image blank, and you’ll see the UUA logo in that spot.

On the righthand side of the header on each page is a space for a short piece of text. We strongly suggest that you put the time of your weekly worship service, so that visitors to your site have no trouble finding that at a glance. Type something like “Sunday Services at 10:00 am) in the Header Text box.

Footer Options: Here’s where you configure the links from Welcoming Congregation and Green Sanctuary logos in the footer.

By default, the footer of each page includes a link about the Welcoming Congregation and Green Sanctuary programs that many congregations have completed. If you choose to display those logos, you can set where they link to. The theme comes with the logos linking to the pages about the programs. To replace these links with links to your own pages, enter the URLs in the two boxes.

Social Network Connections: If your congregation has a Facebook page, Twitter handle, YouTube channel, Pinterest page, Instagram account, or Google Plus page, enter their URLs so that they appear in the header and footer of each page. If you don’t have an account, leave the box blank.

Site Identity: Enter your congregation’s name as the Site Title and your tagline or slogan, if you have one.

If your congregation has a logo, set the Site Icon to a small version or it (about 512×512 pixels). This icon appears as the “favicon” on browser tabs that display your website pages and as the icon on phones and tablets for people who add your website an an app button. Leave this blank to use the UUA logo.

Colors: The background color for the theme is usually white, but you can set it to another color.

Background image: The UUA Theme sets the content area width to a maximum width, so that lines of text don’t get uncomfortably long to read. To the left and right of the content area is a background image. By default, it’s a wallpaper that consists of the UUA logo repeated at an angle. You can upload a different image by clicking Background Image. The image can be large enough to fill even the largest screen, or it can be small and you can choose a Background Repeat — see what looks good.

You can leave the last four options (Menu, Widgets, Homepage Settings, and Additional CSS) alone for now.

Click Publish at the top left of the page to save your changes. You can always make more changes later. When the button changes to say “Published”, click the X to return to the Dashboard.

Continue to set up your site by setting up your date and time formats.

More about Colors

The hex codes for the various color options for the theme are:

  • Blue: #343368 (menu bar) / #3e3d7e (menu bar selection) / #3c3b76 (pattern foreground) / #48488b (pattern background)
  • Gold: #feb513 (banner background) / #fed160 (banner buttons)
  • Grey: #e3e4e4 (pattern foreground) / #f9f9f9 (pattern & banner background)
  • Red: #a1193a (menu bar, banner buttons) / #74142b (menu bar selection)
  • Aqua: #005568 (menu bar) / #004250 (menu bar selection) / #008ba9 (pattern foreground) / #00a2c6 (pattern background)
  • Green: #96bb34 (banner background) / #657d25 (banner buttons)

You can find all our color codes and accessibility suggestions for using them.

Configuring Date and Time Formats for Your WordPress Website

Events listings on your website will display the times of events. You may need to customize the way the date and time appear, depending on whether you want your website to use American or Canadian/European formats.

To change this in the Events plugin:

  1. Choose Events > Settings from the Dashboard.
  2. At the top of the screen you’ll see four tabs: General, Pages, Formatting, and Emails. Click Formatting.
  3. From the list that appears, click Date/Time.
  4. For the Date Format, enter “m/d/Y” for American style dates or “d/m/Y” for Canadian/European types date. (Yes, the “Y” is capitalized.)
  5. Click the “Save Changes (All)” button at the lower right of the page.

Continue to set up your site by configuring the menus.

Configuring the Map Using the UUA WordPress Theme

The “Directions” link at the top of every page on your site displays a map centered on your congregation’s address. Here's how to configure that map.

WordPress gets the map from Google Maps. Google requires any program that wants to access its maps to have an API key, a free identifier that you can get from Google. (“API” stands for Application Programming Interface, and refers to the way programs talk to each other.) If you use a version of the UUA Theme earlier than 1.2.0, you'd need a key; instead, update the theme so you don't need one.

Entering your congregation's physical address

Enter your congregation's address

  1. From the Dashboard, choose Appearance > Customize. (Or click Customize if it appears along the top of the page.)
  2. Click “Congregation Map Information” from the list of options on the left side of the page. It contains two boxes, one for your address and the other for a Google API key. You don't need a key if you are using version 1.2.0 or later of the UUA Theme
  3. Enter your congregation's address in the address box.
  4. Click the left-pointing arrow at the top of the box, click the Publish button, and click the X to close the Customize menu.

Configuring the Menus with the UUA WordPress Theme

Your menus are one of the first things you need to set up on your site. General instructions for how to display the Menus page, where you can edit menus, are below, along with a list of the four menus that appear in the UUA Theme.

The Four Menus

The UUA theme has four different menu areas:

  1. Utility (Header) Menu: This navigation is in the top right of the header and in the demo includes links for directions, search, giving, and contact. Details are on the the Header Content page.
  2. Footer Menu: The navigation in the footer’s bottom right corner, used primarily for login links, terms of use, privacy policy, etc. Details are on the Footer Content page.
  3. Main Navigation: This is the primary horizontal navigation. Details are on Setting Up the Main Menu.
  4. Left Sidebar Navigation: The menu that appears on the left-hand side of pages. In the UUA Theme, it’s based on the Main Navigation menu (or more precisely, the menu structure you see when you choose Pages on the Dashboard).

Displaying the Menus on the Site

Tell WordPress where to display each of these menus:

  1. Choose Appearance > Menus from the Dashboard. You see the Menus page with the Edit Menus tab selected, shown below.
  2. Click the “Manage Locations” tab. You see list of the four menus.
  3. Set “Primary Navigation” to the “Main Menu”.
  4. Set “Utility Navigation” to the “Utility Menu”.
  5. Set “Footer Navigation” to the “Footer Menu”.
  6. Set “Page Navigation” to “Nested Pages”.
  7. Click the “Save Changes” button.

How to Edit Menus

To make changes to a menu:

  1. Choose Appearance > Menus from the Dashboard. You see the Menus page with the Edit Menus tab selected, shown below.
  2. In the “Select a menu to edit” box, choose the menu you want to change and then click Select.
Menus page in the WordPress Dashboard

Follow the instructions below and on the main menu page to add and remove menu items. You can also reoorder menu items by dragging them up and down on the Menu Structure list.

Be sure to click “Save Menu” to save your changes before leaving the Menus page

Configuring the UUA’s inSpirit Book & Gift Shop WordPress Widget

You have the option of featuring books and other products offered by the inSpirit Book & Gift Shop (formerly called the UUA Bookstore and still owned by the UUA). The UUA Bookstore Widget will display a little advertisement for one book (or other product) on a general, family, or social justice topic on every page on your site, except the home page. All sales go to benefit your UUA.

Adding the UUA Bookstore Widget to the Theme Sidebars

If you choose the add the widget to your pages (and we hope you do!):

  1. Choose Appearance > Widgets to see a page that shows available widgets along with which widgets appear on your pages.
  2. In the Available Widgets section, look for the UUA Bookstore Widget.
  3. Drag it onto the Theme Sidebar section. The demo site shows it as the first item on the Primary sidebar. Drag the “UUA Bookstore Widget” from the “Available Widgets” list to the “Primary” area on the theme Sidebars list. There are probably several widgets there; drag it wherever order you want it to appear.
  4. Click the down arrow on the widget to open up its configuration information.
  5. Set the List Type to the topic (UU General, Family, or Social Justice) and click Save.

Setting Up the Main Menu in the UUA WordPress Theme

The menu menu, also known as the primary navigation menu, appears across the top of every page, below the congregation name, logo, and tagline. It’s the primary way people find their way around your site (aside from searching). Almost every page on your site should be on the main menu.

See Configuring the Menus to make sure that the Main Menu displays at the top of your pages.

The UUA did extensive testing about what labels and groupings congregational websites should use for their main menu, and it’s explained on Recommended Menu Structure and Pages. If you load the demo content, the recommended main menu will already be in place, ready for you to adapt to your congregation.

What’s Tricky about the Main Menu

Unlike the other menus, the main menu represents the organization of your site. The URLs of each page should match the location of the page on the main menu. For example, if the “Music and Choir” page is on the “Worship” menu, its URL should be:

Removing the last section of a URL (like “/music-and-choir”) should always lead the user to a valid page (like

As a result, adding or moving pages on the main menu is a two-step process:

  1. Edit the page and specify what menu it goes on. When you save the page, WordPress creates the URL to that page.
  2. Edit the main menu and put the page where it goes.

It would be nice if we didn't have to do that second step, but we do.

Tip: You can keep your URLs short by editing the path before you save it. The “Permalink” setting at the top of the edit page enables you to edit the last section of the URL. All but the last section is based on your site’s domain name and the path to the parent page on the menu, so you can’t edit those. For example, if the “Music and Choir” page is on the “Worship” menu and the URL of the “Worship” page is “”, you can’t edit that part.

Warning: If you change page URLs after they are published, links to the will be broken. Consider installing the Quick Redirects plugin (or another redirect plugin) so you can create a redirect (like a forwarding address) from the old address to the new one.

Displaying the Menus Page

To handle the second step — putting or moving pages on the main menu — you need to display the Menus page.

  1. Choose Appearance > Menus from the Dashboard. You see the Menus page with the Edit Menus tab selected, shown below.
  2. In the “Select a menu to edit” box, choose the Main Menu and then click Select.
  3. Be sure to click “Save Menu” to save your changes before leaving the Menus page.

Adding Pages to the Main Menu

First Step: Edit the page.

  1. Create or edit the page.
  2. On the edit page, in the righthand column, in the Page Attribute box, set the Parent to the menu that this page will be on. (Put another way, choose the page that will be the parent of this page in the menu structure.)
  3. When you click the Publish or Update button to save this change to the page, WordPress creates or updates the address of this page, which you can see in the Permalink link, just below the page title box on the edit page.
  4. The first part of the Permalink (the part that’s not bold) is the address of the parent page, which you can’t change from this page. Click Edit to change the last part of the permalink. WordPress uses the name of the page to create this last part, and you can usually shorten it while maintaining identifying information about the page.

Second Step: Edit the main menu.

  1. Open the Menus page (Appearance > Menus) and select the Main Menu.
  2. Find the new page in the Pages list in the left-hand column, click its checkbox, and click the “Add to Menu” button.
  3. WordPress adds it to the very bottom of the menu. (How annoying!) Scroll down to find it there, and drag it up to where it should be. Indent it under its parent page.
  4. If you want the link on the menu to be shorter than the full page title, click the down-arrow at the right end of the menu item and type the shorter text in the Navigation Label box.
  5. Click the Save Menu button to save your changes.

Moving Pages on the Main Menu

First Step: Edit the page.

  1. Edit the page.
  2. On the edit page, in the righthand column, in the Page Attribute box, set the Parent to the menu that this page will be on.
  3. When you click the Update button to save this change to the page, WordPress updates the address of this page, which you can see in the Permalink link, just below the page title box on the edit page.
  4. If other pages link to this page, consider installing the Quick Redirects plugin (or another redirect plugin) so you can create a redirect (like a forwarding address) from the old address to the new one.

Second Step: Edit the main menu.

  1. Open the Menus page (Appearance > Menus) and select the Main Menu.
  2. Find the page you moved in the Menu Structure list in the righthand column.
  3. Drag it to its new location, indented under its parent page.
  4. Click the Save Menu button to save your changes.

A Note about Top Level Menu Items

While some website main menus (including’s) including top-level links at the top that both open the menu and link to a page, some designers consider this to be confusing for users who don’t know whether the same button will open a menu or take them to a new page, and they would often have trouble accessing the top level page or making the dropdown work properly.

The UUA Theme uses a null link for top-level menu items and not a page. If you create new top-level menu items, create a custom link with “#” (a null link) as the URL, as shown here:

Editing the order of pages on the main menu

The Left Sidebar Menu

The left sidebar menu is a subsection of the main menu. It’s generated automatically for each page, and shows all the pages below the top-level ancestor (parent) of the current page in the menu structure. This gives the user a sense of the pages that are “near” this page in the structure — pages on related topics.

For example, on the page About Us > Our Beliefs > About Unitarian Universalism, About Us would be considered the top-level ancestor, so the left sidebar menu displays all the pages on the About Us menu.

If you want to override the left sidebar menu, you can add a menu in the left-hand-sidebar widget area.

Setting Up the Header Content in the UUA WordPress Theme

The header, which appears on every page (see demo) features:

  • the logo, name, and tagline of your congregation
  • a directions link, which generates a Google Map and a link to Google Maps directions
  • a search link, which generates a search box for your site, powered by Google Search
  • a link to your donations page
  • a link to your contact form
  • Facebook and Twitter icons that link to your congregation’s social media pages
  • a space for text that should say when your weekly services take place
  • the main navigation menu

To customize these, log in to your site as an administrator and follow the steps below.

Logo, Name, and Tagline of Your Congregation

See Configuring Your Congregation’s Information, Logo, and Colors for instructions, if you haven't already done so.

Directions, Search, Donations, Contact and Social Links: The Utility Menu

These links are on the Utility menu, one of the menus you configure by choosing Appearance > Menus from the Dashboard. Here are instructions for setting it to the UUA’s recommended links. To edit the Utility Menu:

  1. Choose Appearance > Menus from the Dashboard. You see the Menus page with the Edit Menus tab selected, shown below.
  2. In the “Select a menu to edit” box, choose the Utility Menu, and click Select.
  3. Set your Menus page to display the options you’ll need to change. Click Screen Options in the very top righthand corner, check the “CSS Classes” checkbox, and click Screen Options again.
Appearance page for configuration WordPress

Directions Link

This link displays a Google map to your congregation, using the address you entered on the Appearance > Customize > Congregation Information page. You need to add a “Custom Link” with a special CSS class that displays the map.

Add the Directions link: If it’s not already there, add a menu item called “Directions” (or “Map”). Click “Custom Links” in the lefthand column, enter “#” as the URL, enter “Directions” as a the Link Text, and click Add to Menu.

Adding a custom menu link

Set the CSS to display a map: In the righthand Menu Structure column, click the down-arrow next to “Custom Link” for the Directions menu option that you just created. You see these options:

Setting the CSS class to display a map

Enter location-toggle in the CSS Classes box.

Search Link

If it’s not already there, add a “Search” menu item in the same way. Click “Custom Links”, give it a null link address (#):, and enter “Search” for the link text:

Adding custom search link

Then open its Custom Link options in the Menu Structure section and add the CSS class, search-toggle, like this:

Adding the CSS class for the custom Search menu link

Click “Save Menu” to change your changes to the Utility menu.

Give Link

If it’s not already there, add a link to your donations page. (You have to create the page before you can add it to your menu.) Find the page in the Pages list in the lefthand column, click its checkbox, and click “Add to Menu”. If the page has a longer title, you can display a shorter link on the menu: Click the page link in the Menu Structure column and enter the shorter text in the “Navigation label” box.

Contact Link

If it’s not already there, add a link to your “Contact Us” page. Find the page in the Pages list in the lefthand column, click its checkbox, and click “Add to Menu”. If the page has a longer title, you can display a shorter link on the menu.

Social Links (Facebook, etc.)

The Facebook, Twitter, or other social links you find there are set under Appearance > Customize > Social Network Connections. They do not appear on the Edit Menu page. More information is on Configuring Your Congregations's Information, Logo, and Colors .

Other Links

You can add other page links to the Utility Menu, but keep it short and limit it to items of interest to new visitors.

Space for Your Weekly Service Day and Time

See Configuring Your Congregation’s Information, Logo, and Colors for instructions.

The Main Menu

The main navigation menu stretches across the the page at the bottom of the header section, just above the main body content of each page. See Setting Up the Main Menu.

The color of the main menu is controlled by the Theme Color Options; see Configuring Your Congregation’s Information, Logo, and Colors.


Breadcrumbs are enabled using the Yoast SEO plugin. Enable the plugin and then turn on breadcrumbs under Advanced Settings.

Setting Up the Footer Content in the UUA WordPress Theme

The footer, which appears at the bottom of every page, contains four areas, three of which are customizable (see demo). From left to right:

  1. The first (leftmost) area has the congregation’s address and contact information, with a link to directions. Be sure to fill this out, because it's used in the Directions section at the top of every page, too.
  2. In the demo site, the second area has a picture and short bio of the congregation’s minister. This can easily be something else.
  3. In the demo site, the third area contains is a newsletter subscription sign up. This can easily be something else. See our guidance on the News pages to insure that your site is set up in accordance with your newsletter and privacy policies.
  4. The fourth (rightmost) area has the UUA’s logo with a link to, plus the Welcoming Congregation graphics (for recognized Welcoming Congregations) and Green Sanctuary graphics (for recognized Green Sanctuaries.)

Below that, at the very bottom of the page, is the Footer Menu, a small row of text links.

To customize your footer, log in to your site as an administrator. Follow the steps below to change each of these areas.

First, Second, and Third Sections

Choose Widgets to see a page about the available widgets and which widgets appear where. The page looks like this:

Widgets section of WordPress Dashboard

To configure where widgets appear, choose a location from the “Theme Sidebars” list at the right and then drag widgets into the area that appears. Scroll down the list to find the location (e.g., “Footer 1”) and then click the down arrow to its right to display its configuration.

Footer 1: Click the down arrow to the right of “Footer 1” and drag the “SiteOrigin Editor” widget from the “Available Widgets” column into the “Footer 1” area. Enter your congregation’s name as the title and its address, phone number, and email address in the text area. Click the Save button at the bottom of the “SiteOrigin Editor” box.

Footer 2 and Footer 3: Click the down arrow to the right of “Footer 2” or “Footer 3” to add a widget in each of these locations — or leave them blank. Options include:

  • A UUA bookstore product: Choose the “UUA Bookstore” widget.
  • A listing of recent news: Choose the “List Category Posts” widget and set it to display posts in the “News” category.
  • A map showing the location of your congregation: Choose the “SiteEditor Google Maps” widget.
  • An image: Choose the “Image” widget.
  • Text: Choose the “Text” widget.

Fourth Section: Logos

  1. Choose Appearance > Customize form the Dashboard.
  2. Choose Footer Options to update the URLs that the LGBTQ Welcoming Congregation and Green Sanctuary logos link to. Choose URLs that go to your own Welcoming Congregation and Green Sancturary pages. If you are not a Welcoming Congregation, or if you are not a Green Sanctuary, leave the links blank. In that case, the logos will not display.
  3. Choose Menus > Footer Menu to customize the links that appear at the bottom of your page. You can customize the titles and the URLs.

Footer Menu

The footer menu appears at the bottom of every page. It’s small and unobtrusive and designed to be used for administrative links Terms of Use, Privacy Policy, and the login link you and your fellow editors use to log in and update the site. If you loaded the demo content, these links will go to the demo website. Replace those links to your own website pages.

Follow the instructions above to display the edit page for this menu.

Remove the custom links that came with the demo content, if they are there. Click the link in the Menu Structure list and click the Remove link.

Add links to your own pages by locating each page in the Pages list, clicking its checkbox, and clicking “Add to Menu”.

To add a link to the login page, add a custom link and enter the URL like (replacing “” with your congregation’s web address).

Setting Up the Sidebar Content in the UUA WordPress Theme

The UUA WordPress Theme is a three-column theme, with the main content in the center, related content in the right-hand column (right sidebar), and a menu in the left-hand column (left sidebar). All the pages in your website follow this format except for the homepage, which has its own, unique layout.

Right Sidebar

The Primary Sidebar

The Primary sidebar appears on all pages except your homepage. (The mobile version of the page puts the primary sidebar below the body of the page.)

On the demo site, this sidebar includes:

  • Recent News
  • Next Service
  • Upcoming Events

To customize the primary sidebar, log in as an administrator and choose Appearance > Widgets from the Dashboard. Then click Primary in the area labeled “Sidebar.”

You can select which widgets appear in your primary sidebar by selecting a widget in Appearance > Widgets and choosing “Primary” as its destination. This could include an events calendar, an image of your Facebook page (with a link to Like) and more. Keep in mind that this content will display on nearly every page of your site, so it should be of wide interest.

The Secondary Sidebar

The Secondary sidebar is an optional extension of the right sidebar. If the Secondary sidebar contains any content, it appears just below the Primary sidebar. (It does not have any content in it on our demo site.)

If you wish to add widgets and content, it functions just like the Primary Sidebar described above and can have the same kinds of content. A word of caution: Lengthening your Right Sidebar lengthens the pages throughout your site and will likely create excessive white space below your body text and images.

Is the Right Sidebar Too Long?

Here’s a good test: View a number of your pages on a typical-size computer screen. On most of your pages, if you have excessive white space at the bottom of your page body (your text and images) then reduce the number of widgets in your right sidebar or reduce the number of events and news items each widget displays. If you have excessive white space at the bottom of your right sidebar, then raise the number of widgets in your right sidebar or increase the number of events and news items displayed. Keep your number (and total height) of widgets in line with the average height of the body text and images.

Left Sidebar

The left-hand sidebar contains the Left Sidebar Navigation menu. (In the mobile version the menu collapses.) See Configuring the Menus to learn how to edit this menu.

When logged in, you can customize this sidebar going to the Dashboard, clicking Appearance > Widgets, and clicking Left Sidebar in area labeled “Sidebar.”

Customizing the UUA WordPress Theme

Congregational Website Forum

By UUA Information Technology Service Staff Group: Web Team

Ask questions here about the UUA WordPress Theme for Congregations or any congregational website. To receive email notifications about new posts and comments, click a Subscribe link at the bottom of this page, or of individual discussion pages....

Congregational Website Forum

Customization Within the Theme

The Theme offers you many options with which to customize your site.

  • Customizing Appearance: See your options under Appearance > Customize on the administrative dashboard.
  • Customizing Plugins: You are welcome to install plugins beyond what comes with the theme.
  • Customizing Widgets: You are welcome to install widgets beyond what comes with the theme.
  • Customizing menu, text, pages, forms, images.

You may need to customize the way the date and time appear in plugins and widgets, depending on whether they are using American or Canadian/European conventions. To change this in the Events plugin, choose Events > Settings from the administrative menu. At the top of the screen you’ll see four tabs: General, Pages, Formatting, and Emails. Choose Formatting and set the date and time preferences on the menu below.

Customization Beyond the Theme

Sometimes you want your site to do things that the Theme won’t permit. When you these substantial modifications to design or function you enter into a tricky, but navigable, territory. What you need to do is create a Child Theme – a Theme that’s a “child” of the “parent” UUA WordPress Theme for Congregations. Without a Child Theme, your modifications will be lost whenever you update the theme. (Updates to the Theme will be released periodically and are necessary for the continued functioning of your website.

When is a Child Theme called for?

  • When you edit the UUA Theme’s code
  • When you change the color scheme beyond the UUA Theme’s three options
  • If you choose a different font
  • If you modify the UUA Services Plugin to show two or more services rather than one

You do not need to create a Child Theme if you simply add other WordPress-compatible plugins and widgets.

How to Make a Child Theme

Here's more information about child themes. Learn how to create child themes on

Adding Google Analytics Tracking to the UUA WordPress Theme

Add Google Analytics tracking code to your congregation's WordPress website so you can see how people are visiting the site. You can find out how people find your site, which pages they visit, and other information.

You have several options.

If You Use a Child Theme

If you use a child theme, add this code:

<?php function uu_analytics_tracking() { ?> <!-- PASTE TRACKING CODE HERE --> <?php } add_action( 'wp_head', 'uu_analytics_tracking' );

Plugins That Add the Google Analytics Tracking Code

If you don't use a child theme, install one of these plugins, which already offer the ability to add Google Analytics tracking without editing code:

Basic Tracking Method Without Google Analytics

If you are not sure how to configure and use Google Analytics and just want basic site tracking, use the JetPack plugin.

JetPack already includes site stats with reports that offer quick, at-a-glance views of the traffic on your site.

Building Your Website Content Using the UUA WordPress Theme

The UUA WordPress Theme for Congregations help display effective content on your congregation's site using widgets and plugins that keep the homepage up to date, organize your staff listings, and display lists of future and past worship services.

But what about the actual content of the pages? You can download sample text for specific pages, available with the download from the demo site.

Whether you start with the content of your existing website or the sample content, you need to build and maintain your pages:

How to Add Specific Kinds of Content

  1. Add news posts by clicking Posts > Add New in your Dashboard
  2. Add event pages by clicking Events > Add Event in your Dashboard
  3. Add Sunday service information for past and future Sundays by creating services pages, following these directions for the UUA Services plugin
  4. Add ministers and staff by creating a staff page for each one by clicking Staff > Add New in your Dashboard
  5. Add testimonials (member stories about what your congregation means to them) by clicking Testimonials > Add New from the Dashboard.

Recommended Menu Structure and Pages for Congregational Websites

Along with the UUA WordPress Theme, the UUA Outreach Team developed a recommended structure for the site’s content, its “information architecture.” Through a series of user tests with Optimal Workshop’s Treejack tool, we organized the content of the site into sections and subsections that are easier to use than what congregations typically use. Experienced UUs and non-UUs alike found this menu structure intuitive and helpful in finding what they needed.

If you download the demo menu and content, you may be able to cut and paste much of your current website content onto pages in this menu. You may also need to write some new pages for your site.

The structure of the menu can be customized. For example, you can change the page names and number of pages under “learning” to reflect the way your religious education program is organized. You can also rename pages to fit your staffing and programs, such as “Caring Team” rather than “Caring Committee.” Refrain from using page names and menu items that only insiders will understand. (For example, if your small group ministry is called Chalice Connections, go with a more descriptive name like “Small Groups.”)

Please consult the page-by-page guidance for ideas about what to say and show on each page. It can also help you improve your usability even further, with tips like “Make sure this page about X has a link to your page about Y, because 30% of users in our tests looked on page X for information about Y.”

  About Us  
  Our Mission and Vision  
  Our Beliefs  
    About Unitarian Universalism
    UU Principles & Sources
    Kids Principles
    Our Symbol: The Flaming Chalice
  Our Stories  
    Member Testimonials
    Congregational History
  Our Minister and Staff  
    subpages for individual ministers/staff
  Our Elected Leaders  
  Our Governance  
  An LGBTQ-Welcoming Congregation  
  A Green Sanctuary  
  Location & Accessibility  
  Congregation News  
  Submit an Event  
  About Worship  
  Upcoming Worship Services  
  What to Expect in Worship  
  Past Worship Services  
  Holidays and Traditions  
  Music and Choir  
  Child Dedications
  Memorial Services and Funerals
  Learning Overview  
  Elementary School  
  Middle School  
  High School  
  Younger Adults  
  Older Adults  
  Justice Overview  
  Social Justice  
  Green Action  
  Service Projects  
  Connection Overview  
  Visiting Us  
  Small Group Ministry  
  Affinity Groups  
  Pastoral Care  
  Caring Committee  
  Become a member  

Suggested Image List for Congregational Websites

The following is a list of images we recommend you gather to upload to your site. See Using Images Well for guidance on the qualities of a good image, and Sources for UU Images for ideas on gathering images.

Photo Size and Format

Images on the site, generally speaking, should be in jpg or jpeg format and should never be smaller than 680 pixels wide. That way they are flexible enough to show up well in any area of your site.

Your Logo Size and Format

Your logo should be at least 400 pixels wide, ideally in a PNG format. Ideal dimensions are 450px x 100px.

Photo Listing by Page

If you are using the UUA WordPress Theme's menu structure, here are ideas for photos for each page.

Photo Listing by Page
Homepage Your logo | One to three .jpg images for the feature, or one .mp4 video | images for the three feature boxes | other images are generated by Testimonials and Staff plugins
About Us A photo of people, facing the camera, looking warm and welcoming.
Our Mission and Vision A photo of people doing mission-related work, or a photo from the mission/vision workshops where the congregation created them.
Our Beliefs Many kinds of photos could be suitable for this page: an image of books from the six sources, children and adults worshipping together, people taking action, and more.
About Unitarian Universalism Many kinds of photos could be suitable for this page: an image of books from the six sources, children and adults worshipping together, people taking action, and more.
UU Principles & Sources Images may include people holding signs with the principles or principles graphics (such as these graphics created by Ellen Rockett).
Kids Principles Images may include children engaging with the principles, or children’s principle-related artwork.
Our Stories Photos of people in your congregation, with some language about how people of many backgrounds follow diverse paths to a UU identity.
Member Testimonials Photos of the people whose testimonials are featured.
Our Symbol: The Flaming Chalice A photo of the flaming chalice your congregation uses in worship.
Congregational History Historical photos and graphics from the congregation.
Our Minister and Staff Pictures of each of the ministers and staff. These are loaded into the Staff plugin.
subpages for individual ministers/staff Generated by the Staff plugin 
Our Elected Leaders A group photo of the congregation’s board, if you have them, a group photo of other committees.
Our Governance A photo of the annual meeting or another kind of photo that shows democracy and consensus-building at work.
An LGBTQ-Welcoming Congregation A photo of your rainbow flag, your participation in Pride events, or LGBTQ people from your congregation. Or the LGBTQ-Welcoming Congregation image that comes with the Theme.
A Green Sanctuary A photo of your green sanctuary-related work: green features of the building, worship and service for environmental justice, advocacy for climate justice, etc.
Location A photo of the building: exterior to help people find it, interior to get a feel for what’s inside.
Accessiblity A photo (or photos) of the building’s accessibility features.
Rentals A photo (or photos) of the spaces available for rent.
Contact An image of members, ministers, staff, and/or congregants looking warm and welcoming.
Congregation News

No pictures necessary other than the pictures that appear in the individual news items and events.

Submit an Event
Newsletter No image necessary.
About Worship A photo of worship in your congregation, showing a range of ages, genders, and ethnicities.
Upcoming Worship Services No photo necessary.
What to Expect in Worship Another photo of worship in your congregation, showing one or more of its common elements (e.g. Time for All Ages, Chalice Lighting, singing)
Past Worship Services No photo necessary.
Holidays and Traditions Photos from holidays and traditions you celebrate, such as Christmas, Coming-of-Age ceremonies, Passover seders, etc.
Music and Choir Photos of the congregation’s musicians and singers performing.
Child Dedications A photo of a child dedication in your congregation.
Weddings A photo of a wedding in your building and/or with your minister presiding.
Memorial Services and Funerals A photo of a bouquet from a memorial service, or of the minister’s hands holding the hands of someone else.
Learning Overview A photo of people of many ages, smiling and learning in a warm and welcoming way.

Photos of people in these various age groups participating in the congregation’s programs. Pictures of teachers, classrooms, artwork, and service work are also relevant.

Elementary School
Middle School
High School
Younger Adults
Older Adults
Justice Overview Photos of people in the congregation changing the world: working for justice through advocacy, activism, and community service.
Social Justice Photos of people working for justice.
Green Action Photos of people taking action for climate justice.
Service Projects Photos of people engaged in community service projects.
Connection Overview A photo of people looking connected to one another across difference.
Small Group Ministry Photo not needed, but welcome if you have pictures of small group ministry or covenant groups meeting.
Affinity Groups Photo not needed, but welcome if you have pictures of some of your affinity groups doing their activities.
Pastoral Care Photo(s) of the congregation’s pastoral caregivers, whether they are clergy or a team of members.
Caring Committee Photo not needed, but welcome if you have photos of people bringing food or sharing rides.
Become a member A picture from a new member ceremony or event would be appropriate here.
Volunteer Include pictures of volunteers at work, in the congregation and beyond.
Donate A photo of people, facing the camera, looking warm and welcoming.

Adapting the Downloaded Website Content for Your Congregation

If you plan to use the theme’s sample content, your site will be more findable in Google searches if you personalize it. Personalize by:

  • rephrasing pages using your own voice
  • adding local references, like “At UU Church of Somewhere, we celebrate the 6th Principle with International Day, held each April.”
  • adding a page section with a header like “The 6th Principle at UU Church of Somewhere.”

This will help search engines like Google differentiate your pages from other congregations who are also using the UUA’s sample content, and will improve the chances that your page about Unitarian Universalism will show up higher in the results for people searching within your area.

Your site’s overall SEO (search engine optimization) will not be harmed by having duplicate content on your site (your home page will likely rank well for searches for UUs in your area), but by taking steps to personalize your information, you can improve the ranking of your deeper pages, increasing the chances that local people will stumble across your site serendipitously.

Making Website Content Accessible

On the web, accessibility helps everyone

By Kasey Kruser

From LeaderLab

An accessible website doesn't exclude visitors due to their abilities or the method they choose to access the web. Accessible content helps people with disabilities and people with limited internet, old technology, or who speak a different language.

Website Accessibility

In living out our Principles, the Unitarian Universalist Association strives to welcome and affirm people of all abilities.

Nearly 50 million people (1 in 5 of the U.S. population) in the United States have a disability—visible or invisible, public or private. For everyone, whether having a disability or not, the environment in which we live, learn, play, sing, work, meditate, reflect, and pray must feel welcoming in order for everyone to grow and thrive. This includes our congregational websites.

Many congregations have had long-standing website practices for their websites that are not optimal, such as posting important content in non-searchable PDF files, making color choices that result in hard-to-read pages, not including alternate text for images or captions for videos.

The UUA Theme for Congregations is built with a high degree of accessibility in mind. However, an accessible site depends on your maintaining accessible practices for all of the content you add.

The UUA Web Team has developed excellent guidance on how to build an accessible website on

When you’ve added your content and run accessibility testing on it, you’ll be able to create your own website accessibility page.

Search Engine Optimization for Your Website: a Brief Guide

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is about making sure your pages are well-formed:

  • for the search engines like Google which "spider" or "index" your site, and
  • for the human beings who will see a page full of search results—and hopefully click on links to your pages.

SEO is a large and complex field, but keeping some of the basics in mind can help tremendously.

First, it's important to note that search engines these days do a pretty good job of showing search results relevant to what an individual is looking for. There's no need to try to "trick" the search engines into ranking your pages higher than they would naturally, and in fact, employing devious techniques will hurt you in the long run. Review "10 Google Dont's" for some sure-fired ways to hurt your search ranking.

SEO in Brief

Further Reading

Consider Meta Descriptions for Search Engine Optimization

The meta description is a short phrase that summarizes the topic of the page.

Meta descriptions go in the <head> of a page, in the format: <meta name="description" content="Search Engine Optimization: make your pages succeed in search results and for human beings."/>

Sometimes a search result will show a meta description below the link to that page, and sometimes it will show a person's search terms in bold, in the context of an excerpt from the page. Meta descriptions may also be used by social media, for example when a particular page is shared on Facebook.

Before you add meta descriptions to every page, take note that while good meta descriptions are better than none, bad meta descriptions can hurt your site.

If meta descriptions are the same for a lot of pages (or break other Google recommendations), they may be ignored entirely, and they'll certainly be less useful for users.

Descriptions are often cut short in search results, so front-loading important words is vital. Eliminate "filler" text like, "This page is intended to..." or "Here you'll find." Cut right to the chase, and identify the precise content of that specific page.

DaniWeb likens meta descriptions to "a permanent Tweet for your website" and that's a good way to think about it: write an "elevator speech" for your page.

You can check a site's page titles and meta description tags (if present) in Google with the "site:" option. That's the word "site", a colon, and the domain, e.g.

The meta "keywords" tag is largely ignored these days (as it was so hideously abused by people trying to capture search results for which they weren't really relevant), but including key words in your text is a good idea.

Improve Your URL Structure for Search Engine Optimization

If you can make your site with a logical and meaningful URL (web address) structure, all the better for search engine optimization (SEO).

Google has this to say:

A site's URL structure should be as simple as possible. Consider organizing your content so that URLs are constructed logically and in a manner that is most intelligible to humans (when possible, readable words rather than long ID numbers). For example, if you're searching for information about aviation, a URL like will help you decide whether to click that link. A URL like…, is much less appealing to users.

Your site should have obvious major subsections, which search engines interpret from the folders (real or virtual) on your site. For example, shows that "Beliefs" is a major subsection of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) website, and it may be shown as a "sitelink" if it's determined to be relevant to the searcher.

Include Key Words in Your Text for Search Engine Optimization

The meta "keywords" tag is largely ignored these days (as it was so hideously abused by people trying to capture search results for which they weren't really relevant), but peppering your title, headers, and text with a variety of relevant words and phrases is a good idea.

For example, a page about a Unitarian Universalist (UU) child dedication ceremony should include a sentence like, "Rather than holding Christian-style baptisms, most UU congregations have child dedication ceremonies," because many searchers will be looking for information on baptisms; if that word isn't anywhere on your site, search results for that term will yield no results for your site, and users will never learn about how UUs celebrate this important life event.

As you write, mix up your language a bit to capture common variations. One paragraph might include the phrase, "search engine optimization," and another might instead use, "optimizing your site for search engines."

Using a variety of key words and phrases in your writing will both improve your SEO and make your text more interesting. Check your site's analytics to see what kind of language your users are looking for.

Your most important key words should be used in your page's title, headers, and/or description (the body summary field).

Writing Strong Content for Your Congregational Website

How do we write in ways that best represent the bold, compassionate, reverent, and inclusive faith we share? Whether creating a website, brochure, or newsletter, the words we choose send a signal about who we are, what we do, and why it matters. Words have the power to turn website visitors into Unitarian Universalists.

Know Your Audience

What hopes, dreams, identities, concerns, and situations would draw your audience to read about your congregation/group? Who are the spiritually-progressive-yet-religiously-unaffiliated people in your community? People have a need to seek meaning in their lives and most believe in God or a higher power, but many still have a negative view of “organized religion.” How do we speak to them with language they can hear? The sample language we’ve developed for Our Beliefs and About Unitarian Universalism offers examples.

Show, Don’t Tell

Who are we? What do we do? Why does it matter? Show who your group is, what people experience, and why it’s relevant to their lives. This is why the Testimonials feature is built into the theme. Instead of a lesson in history or theology, talk about the people in your congregation – the smiling faces, the warm hugs or held hands, the fellowship and fun. Share the words from worship that helped both the staunch atheist to ardent pagan experience hope and courage. Focus on what you do rather than describing who you are.

Make It Easy to Take Action

We are a religion of “deeds not creeds.” What are the deeds that define us? What do UUs do in their everyday lives to live their faith? And what are you asking the reader to do? Be clear. What’s your ask? Use action words: “come” “learn,” or “share.”

Write with Clear Words and Evocative Images

Keep it clear, brief, and imagistic. Figure out what your audience needs to know and organize your pages with their needs and experience at the center. Recognize that any page of your website could be the reader’s entry point to Unitarian Universalism, and give them a taste of who we are and what it feels like to be among us. Try not to use insider language (like “liturgy” or “coffee hour”) and always define acronyms.

Write for Scanning Eyes

People don’t read web pages like books – they scan them in an F-pattern, so write for that kind of reading. This means:

  • Important points first.
  • Clear headers and subheaders
  • Bulleted lists
  • Intentional use of link text (because when people scan, they notice link text)
    • Not link or click here
    • Instead link with words you want to emphasize.
  • Save your long-form prose for blogs and sermons.

Write in an Accessible Manner

Borrow from, with Some Restrictions

In general, congregations are free to copy, adapt, and use website text on their own sites. If a specific author is listed for content you find on, such as a prayer on WorshipWeb, you must seek the permission of the author in order to reprint it on your website (unless it is in the Public Domain). If you wish to use readings or lyrics from Singing the Living Tradition, Singing the Journey, Las Voces del Camino, and other UUA- or Skinner House-published texts, please consult Copyright Permissions for UUA Publications.

Resources to Learn More

Using Images Well on Your Congregational Website

Here is advice about displaying your congregational logo and photos on your website.

Your Logo

The UUA WordPress Theme is set up to accommodate your own congregation’s logo or the UUA logo, which congregations are free to use. If you download and apply the content from the theme demo site, the UUA logo will in four forms on your homepage:

  • In the header as the default congregational logo. You can replace this with your logo.
  • On web browser tabs as the favicon. You can also replace this with your logo; it should be a transparent PHP file of at least 512 x 512 pixels.
  • In the footer as the graphic link to the Unitarian Universalist Association’s pages. We ask that you keep this logo and link.
  • In the footer as the Welcoming Congregation logo. Please remove this if your congregation is not a UUA-recognized LGBTQ-welcoming congregation.

The UUA logo comes with clear guidelines for its use. Please consult the UUA Brand Identity Guidelines (PDF) to learn about how to use the logo properly.

Photos and Graphics

Follow Copyright Laws When Using Images

When an organization uses a photograph on their website in violation of the copyright of the image, they run the risk of fines and lawsuits. This is true for congregations too. Here are some tips.

Seek permission to use and photos

Due to copyright restrictions and agreements with individual photographers, we are not able to authorize the use of or photos on congregational websites except on a case-by-case basis. Please contact photographers and copyright holders to seek permission. See Sources for UU Images for help finding images.

It’s More Than Just Words

Form is content. Put effort into the appearance of pages. Visuals, pictures, and videos are often the “most read” part of a webpage: more so than our carefully crafted prose. And quality counts. Within a few seconds a typical person will decide whether a web page or video is where they want to be. Make each page as visually appealing and clear as you can.

We are making a shift in the way that UUs present themselves: from abstract to specific, from general to personal, and from institutional to relational. High-quality photos and images are a key to this shift, and should be a major component of all communications, including websites. Some general guidance:

Pictures of people doing real things are always better than clip art

Pictures of people doing real things are always better than clip art.

Seeing the people of a congregation is more powerful than seeing its historic building

Seeing the people of a congregation is more powerful than seeing its historic building.

Shift away from text to pictures – a picture is worth 1000 words!

Shift away from text to pictures – a picture is worth 1000 words!

Show the emotion and expression; show your subjects as real people the viewer can connect with emotionally

Show the emotion and expression; show your subjects as real people the viewer can connect with emotionally.

Go for action shots instead of posed ones, watching UU’s put their faith in action

Go for action shots instead of posed ones, watching UU’s put their faith in action.

Keep photo effects to a minimum. Simple filters are fine, as long as they help the audience connect with your pictures

Keep photo effects to a minimum. Simple filters are fine, as long as they help the audience connect with your pictures.

Image Tips

  • Images need to be taken in good lighting with high resolution to use them online or in print, so use a good camera or hire a professional photographer.
  • Plan to capture images at events by gathering signed releases to use photos (sample photo/video release).
  • Balance your text and images on the page or screen. Try for 50/50 text/images.
  • Photos of people in your congregation or community are best, stock photos are only a backup option.

For more information contact the UUA Outreach Office.

Sources for Unitarian Universalist Images

Pictures of people really make your congregational site come alive -- ideally, members of your own congregation.

Your Own Congregation

When taking photos, make sure to get the formal permission of all human subjects, especially if they are minors. Our release form is designed for congregations to get the proper permission for photography and videography that can appear online.

We've compliled a list of photos you’ll want to have for a congregational website. If you don’t have just the right pictures from your congregation, recruit people with good digital cameras and a good eye to help you build your collection. In the meantime, you may be able to find a suitable picture from the online sources below. Be sure to follow best practices for obtaining the permission of subjects and copyright holders.

Unitarian Universalist “All Rights Reserved” Collections

Contact the copyright holders and/or photographers for permission to use specific photos on your websites:

Unitarian Universalist Images and Stock Photos

Creative Commons-Licensed Photos

Read the license on these. Most do not require any permission to use if you comply with the terms of the license.

  • Unitarian Universalist Service Committee: (Most have Creative Commons licenses.)
  • Any photo you find online with a Creative Commons license. These are typically indicated in the copyright, which includes “CC” along with other letters and numbers indicating the specific type of Creative Commons license. Example: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.”

Public Domain Photos

  • Pixabay is one stock photo site where every photo is public domain and does not require any permission to use.

Displaying a Banner at the Top of Every Page on Your Congregation's Website

In an emergency, you may want to display a message at the top of every page on your site. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic many congregations need to notify congregants of breaking news.

Starting with version 1.3.1, you can add a banner to every page on your site:

  1. Log into the site.
  2. From the Dashboard, choose Appearance > Customize. Down the left side of the page you see a list of things you can customize.
  3. Click Site Notice. You see a form where you can type the text of the notice, which can include links and minimal formatting.
  4. Click the "Enable site notice" checkbox.
  5. Click the Publish button at the top of the left column.

To remove the banner, follow the same steps, uncheck the "Enable site notice" checkbox, and click Publish. (You can delete the text in the Site Notice box or leave it for next time.)

Page-by-Page Guidance for the UUA WordPress Theme

The pages in this section offer guidance for what should appear in the main body of each of the pages on your website, including text and images, based on the structure that you download with the demo content (see Adding Content from the Theme Demo Site to learn how.)

Ideas? Questions? Contact the UUA’s Outreach Team.

Configuring Your Congregation's Homepage Using the UUA WordPress Theme

In order to keep the homepage content fairly flexible, the UUA Theme homepage is made up of eight widgets, two in the first row and three in the second and third rows.

Important: These widgets are controlled not by the page called ‘Home’, but rather under Appearance > Widgets within the admin menu. (This menu option appears only for those logged in as Administrators). Some widgets are enabled by particular plugins, so if you haven’t enabled those plugins, those widgets won’t be available for use.

Starting with version 1.3.0 of the theme, you can also edit the homepage content at Appearance > Customize > Widgets, as described below.

While you can use those widget areas for any content you like, the demo is set up with widgets as described in "Homepage Widgets" below.

Basic Homepage Settings

Choose Appearance > Customize and click the Homepage Settings option in the left column. Change the “Your homepage displays” setting to “A static page” and then select the page called “Home” or click "+ Add New Page" to create one.

Click the Publish button and the X to leave the Customizing page.

Assigning Widgets to the Homepage

Choose Appearance > Customize on the Dashboard menu and then click Widgets in the left column. You'll see the list of Widgets areas:

Appearance > Customize > Widgets screen for customizing the homepage

If you use version 1.3.0 or later, you'll see little blue pencil icons in the upper left corner of each homepage widget. Click the icon to select the widget and display its settings in the left column. With any version of the theme, you can choose the "Home 1", "Home 2", "Home 3", etc. through "Home 8" widget areas from the left column to open them and display their settings.

If no widget appears in a widget area, you can click "Add a Widget" to add one.

Configuring the homepage in the WordPress theme

Viewing Your Changes

To see the changes you've made to a widget, click the Apply button. When finished, publish your changes by clicking the Publish button at the top of the left column; or click the gear icon for additional saving options.

Tip: Open two tabs in your browser, or two browser windows. View the home page in one and the Appearance > Customize view in the other. After saving your changes, switch to where the homepage is displayed and press Ctrl-R to refresh it and see your changes.

Homepage Widgets

Row 1, Left to Right

Home 1: Video or Carousel

This widget controls the central image/video box. It can display either a video or a carousel (slideshow) of images with text. The UUA theme originally recommended the CBT Bootstrap Carousel plugin, which is no longer actively supported. Instead, use the MetaSlider plugin.

To choose a video:
  1. Select the "Home 1" widget area and add a Video widget.
  2. Click the "Add Video" button.
  3. Click the "Insert from URL" link on the left side of the page.
  4. Paste in the URL of the YouTube or Vimeo video and click "Add to Widget".
  5. Click the Save button.
To choose a carousel using the (unsupported) CPT Bootstrap Carousel plugin
  1. Add the images to your carousel:
    • Choose Carousel on the Dashboard.
    • Click Add New. You see a form to fill out about the slide. The Title is what will be displayed on the slider bar.
    • On the right-hand sidebar, look for the block called “Featured Image”. (You can grab and drag it to the top of the sidebar so you won’t have to go looking for it each time.)
    • Using the Featured Image box, select from your media library or upload from your computer the image you want to add to the carousel.
    • Select the category (or categories) the picture belongs to.
    • Add other details on the page as desired
    • Click Publish or Update to save your slide.
    • Repeat for as many pictures as you want to display.
    • Note: The page sizes the carousel height based on the first image. You may need to adjust image sizes to get the carousel to look right.
  2. Configure widget for "Home 1" to show the carousel:
    • From the Dashboard, choose Appearance > Customize.
    • Select Widgets, then the Home 1 widget area.
    • If it doesn't already contain a Text widget, add one.
    • Click the down-arrow on the Text widget to edit it.
    • In the Content box, enter: [image-carousel]

Images look best in the carousel when the size is 940 x 588 pixels.

You can display a carousel on any page by enter the shortcode [image-carousel] in the text of the page.

To choose a carousel using the MetaSlider plugin

Since version 1.3.0, the theme supports the MetaSlider plugin, which is widely used and well supported.

  1. Follow these MetaSlider instructions to create a slideshow and add images to it.
  2. Configure widget for "Home 1" to show the carousel:
    • From the Dashboard, choose Appearance > Customize.
    • Select Widgets, then the Home 1 widget area.
    • Add a MetaSlider widget.
    • Select the slideshow you want to display.
    • Click Publish to update the homepage.

Home 2: Upcoming Service

If it isn't already in place, insert the UUA Featured Upcoming Service Widget (not the similarly-named UUA Upcoming ServicesList Widget). This is enabled by the Services plugin.

Title: Enter the title you want to appear above the upcoming service, something like "This Sunday" or "Upcoming Service". The demo site uses "NEXT SERVICE".

Link to Upcoming Services: Probably http:<yoursite>/worship/upcoming-worship-services/

Link to Service Archive: Probably http:<yoursite>/worship/past-worship-services/

Link to First Time Visitor: Probably http:<yoursite>/connection/visiting-us/

Click the Save button.

Keep your services up-to-date by filling in the information in Services.

Row 2, Left to Right

This row is comprised of three "UUA Featured Boxes." Choose three things you want to feature about your congregation with images and text. Put Text, Image, or other widgets into Home 3, Home 4, and Home 5.

The recommended image size is 360 x 270 pixels.

Row 3, Left to Right

Home 6: Recent News

This is generated by a widget from the recommended plugin List Category Posts. (You could also use the regular WordPress Recent Posts widget.) See How News Posts Work.

Drag the "List Category Posts" widget to the "Home 6" area and set its Category to "News".

Home 7: Upcoming Events

These are generated by a widget from the recommended plugin Events Manager. (You could also use The Events Calendar, they both have upcoming events widgets.)

Drag the "Events" widget to the "Home 7" area.

Home: 8 Testimonials

These first-person accounts from participants in your congregation are stored in the WooThemes Testimonials plugin and displayed by its widget.

Drag the "Testimonials: Member Stories" widget to the "Home 8" area. Click the down-arrow to expand the widget so you can enter a title for the box and specify what information to display about the testimonial.

The "About" Section of Your Congregation's Website

Your website should include information about your congregation and Unitarian Universalism. Recommended pages and content in your “About” section are as follows.

The "About Us" Section of Your Congregation's Website

The “About Us” pages both say something about the people in your congregation and invite the user to explore the subpages of this section more deeply.

Use one or more photos on the main page that helps the user make a human connection with the people in your congregation: shots of one to three people looking at the camera are better than group shots. The user should feel welcomed and included by the photo(s).

The "About Us" Page

Recommended text, which appears on the template’s demo site:

We Are Unitarian Universalists

We are brave, curious, and compassionate thinkers and doers. We are diverse in faith, ethnicity, history and spirituality, but aligned in our desire to make a difference for the good. We have a track record of standing on the side of love, justice, and peace.

We have radical roots and a history as self-motivated spiritual people: we think for ourselves and recognize that life experience influences our beliefs more than anything.

We need not think alike to love alike. We are people of many beliefs and backgrounds: people with a religious background, people with none, people who believe in a God, people who don’t, and people who let the mystery be.

We are Unitarian Universalist and BuddhistChristianHinduHumanistJewishMuslimPaganatheist and agnosticbelievers in God, and more.

On the forefront of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer inclusion for more than 40 years, we are people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. [link the underlined text to your LGBTQ welcoming page]

We welcome you: your whole self, with all your truths and your doubts, your worries and your hopes. Join us on this extraordinary adventure of faith. Get involved! [link the underlined text to your Connection page.]

(from, July 2015)

The Mission and Vision Page

If your congregation has a mission statement and vision statement, share them here. Also include pictures of people in the congregation living out that mission and vision, and include links to projects associated with the mission and vision.

LGBTQ Welcoming Page

Include a page welcoming the LGBTQ community if you are (or are seeking to become) an official Welcoming Congregation.

Use the new Welcoming Congregation logo approved for use only by UUA-recognized Welcoming Congregations.

Here is sample text:

We are a Welcoming Congregation, recognized by the Unitarian Universalist Association. This means we affirm and include people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer at every level of congregational life—in worship, in program, and in social occasions—welcoming them as whole people.

As a Welcoming Congregation we have pledged to:

  • honor the lives of all people and equally affirm displays of caring and affection without regard for sexual orientation.
  • celebrate diversity by using inclusive language and content in worship.
  • incorporate an understanding of the experience of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer persons throughout all of our programs, including religious education.
  • affirm and celebrate lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer issues and history.
  • affirm marriage equality and conduct same-sex weddings.
  • advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people, promoting justice, freedom, and equality in the larger society. We speak out when the rights and dignity of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people are at stake.

Green Sanctuary Page

Include a page about Green Sanctuary if you are (or are seeking to become) an official Green Sanctuary. Include photos of your congregation’s actions or green building features/practices.

Here is recommended text:

Being a Green Sanctuary is one of the ways we work toward a vision of healthier, more sustainable future.

As a recognized Green Sanctuary, we live with a deep awareness of our climate crisis and the deep environmental injustices of our time. We commit to four practices, grounded in Unitarian Universalist principles:

  • Environmental Justice: We partner with marginalized communities who are hit first and hardest by environmental crisis. In partnering with these communities we are able to address human and environmental needs at the same time.

  • Worship and Celebration: As we work together towards a cleaner, more just and sustainable world, worship inspires our work and reminds us of what is most sacred and most true.

  • Religious Education: Our workshops and programs for all ages shape attitudes and build practices that are sustainable and spiritually-grounded.

  • Sustainable Living: We treat the world more gently by using fewer resources and being mindful of the choices we make, both as a congregation and as households.

[If your congregation has a statement about its intentions with Green Sanctuary, you can include it or link to it here.]

We invite all who share these values to join us on this journey of connection, sustainability, and hope. Contact [contact person] to get involved.

The "Our Beliefs" Section of Your Congregation's Website

Don’t just list the Principles and Sources on your “Our Beliefs” page. Say what Unitarian Universalists in your congregation believe in accessible and authentic language. Feel free to use or modify the text on’s What We Believe page and its subpages.

Here's recommended text:

Our Beliefs

In Unitarian Universalism, you can bring your whole self: your full identity, your questioning mind, your expansive heart.

Together, we create a force more powerful than one person or one belief system. As Unitarian Universalists, we do not have to check our personal background and beliefs at the door: we join together on a journey that honors everywhere we’ve been before.

Our beliefs are diverse and inclusive. We have no shared creed. Our shared covenant (our seven Principles) supports “the free and responsible search for truth and meaning.” Though Unitarianism and Universalism were both liberal Christian traditions, this responsible search has led us to an inclusive spirituality drawn from six sources: from scriptural wisdom to personal experience to modern day heroes.

Unitarian Universalists believe more than one thing. We think for ourselves, and reflect together, about important questions:

We are united in our broad and inclusive outlook, and in our values, as expressed in our seven Principles. We are united in shared experience: our open and stirring worship services, religious education, and rites of passage; our work for social justice; our quest to include the marginalized; our expressions of love.

Learn more about Unitarian Universalists from a variety of beliefs and backgrounds: Atheist/AgnosticBuddhistChristianHinduHumanistJewishMuslimPagan, and more.

About Unitarian Universalism Page

Consider including a page about Unitarian Universalism beyond your congregation. Say more about our broader movement, with a focus on how we make a difference in people’s lives and in the world. See What We Do page for ideas.

Here is sample text:

Unitarian Universalism creates change: in ourselves, and in the world.

Seven days a week, UUs live their faith by doing. Whether in community with others or as an individual, we know that active, tangible expressions of love, justice, and peace are what make a difference.

Unitarian Universalist congregations are committed to seven Principles that include the worth of each person, the need for justice and compassion, and the right to choose one’s own beliefs. Our congregations and faith communities promote these principles through regular worship, learning and personal growth, shared connection and care, social justice and service, celebration of life’s transitions, and much more.

Our faith tradition is diverse and inclusive. We grew from the union of two radical Christian groups: the Universalists, who organized in 1793, and the Unitarians, who organized in 1825. They joined to become the UUA in 1961. Both groups trace their roots in North America to the early Massachusetts settlers and the Framers of the Constitution. Across the globe, our legacy reaches back centuries to liberal religious pioneers in England, Poland, and Transylvania. Today, Unitarian Universalists include people of many beliefs who share UU values of peace, love, and understanding. We are creators of positive change in people and in the world.

UU Principles and Sources Page

The UU Principles and Sources are easier for newcomers to understand if they have a little framing. See the UU Principles and Sources page on the demo site for text you can use.

Kids’ Principles Page

Include a page listing the UU Principles in kids’ language. See them on our demo site.

Our Symbol: The Flaming Chalice Page

Include a page about the flaming chalice, because it appears in almost all UU services. Display a photo of your congregation’s chalice in use.

For text, see this page from the demo site and the articles and resources it links to.

The "Minister and Staff" Page of Your Congregation's Website

Include a listing of the professionals who serve the congregation, including a group photo or headshots of each person, with a link to a page for each staffer with their bio and contact information.

Note: Early versions of the UUA theme recommended that you use the Staffer plugin to create staff listings. However, unless you have a large staff, just create a page for each staffer and link to it when appropriate. The Staffer plugin is unnecessary.

If the staff team has a covenant or their own mission statement, you may wish to put it here.

Consider also including information about what people can expect from the minister and staff, such as confidentiality, respect, responsiveness, and care.

The "Our Stories" Section of Your Congregational Website Using Testimonials

Include a page with stories and photos of people in your congregation and how they found Unitarian Universalism, with some language about how people of many backgrounds follow diverse paths to a UU identity. See the People of Many Beliefs page for ideas.

Because this helps prospective members get to know you, this may be one of the pages you feature with a box on your homepage.

Member Testimonials Subpage

This page has stories of people in your congregation, with their pictures. Many congregations have a tradition of adults and youth speaking from the pulpit about their identity as UUs and as members of the congregation, during “pledge season,” coming of age services, youth services, and more.

Congregational History Subpage

You can include a page with the story of your particular congregation’s history. The page might link to other sites’ pages on UU history. Include historical photo(s).

How Testimonial Pages Work

Testimonial pages can be handled by one of two plugins:

Either one enables you to create as many testimonial pages you want, with one testimonial (or member story) per page.

To display a listing of testimonials on a page, enter this shortcode into the text of the page:

[testimonials]  (if you use Jetpack, recommended)

[woothemes_testimonials] (if you use WooThemes and UUA Theme version 1.3.0 or greater)

[uua_testimonials] (if you use UUA Theme version 1.2.2 or less than)

The About > Our Stories page on the demo site shows how this looks.

If you use WooThemes, the homepage can also display one or more testimonials by using the “Testimonials: Member Stories” widget. You can control how many to display and how much of the text to display before showing a link to the testimonial page. If you use Jetpack, you can use the text widget and the [testimonials] shortcode.

Switching from WooThemes to Jetpack Testimonials

The original version of the UUA Theme was designed to use the WooThemes Testimonials Plugin to display testimonials. However, this plugin is no longer maintained, and we recommend that you switch to the Testimonials feature of the Jetpack plugin that you probably already have installed.

If you decide to stick with WooThemes Testimonials, replace the [uua_testimonials] shortcode with [woothemes_testimonials] throughout your site (probably only on the About > Out Stories page).

Here are instructions for switching from WooThemes to Jetpack for displaying testimonials on your congregation’s site.

Displaying Testimonials (with Jetpack)

You can display testimonials anywhere using the [testimonials] shortcode. For example, to display a single random testimonial, enter this in the text of your widget or page:

[testimonials orderby=rand showposts=1]​

This excellent article lists other options you can use with this shortcode.

Note: Jetpack automatically creates a page at http://<mydomain>/testimonials that lists all the testimonials.

The Contact Page of Your Congregation's Website Using the UUA WordPress Theme

The Contact page (at /about-us/contact/) should include your congregation’s full street address, mailing address (if different), phone numbers, and primary email address. Edit the page to add this information, and any other guidance you think would be useful (like office hours).

Displaying a Contact Form

You can add a contact form to the Contact page. The Jetpack plugin includes support for a contact form. (If you haven’t already activated JetPack, do so now on the Plugins page.)

In page editing view, click on the “Add Contact Form” button just to the right of the “Add Media” button. (It’s below the title and permalink and above the text editing area.) With the contact form, users can contact your congregation without switching to their e-mail program.

The shortcode that displays the content form should look like this (replacing “info@yourcongregation” with your congregation’s email address:

[ contact-form to='' ][ subject='Contact from the Website' ][ contact-field label='Name' type='name' required='1' /][ contact-field label='Email' type='email' required='1' /][ contact-field label='Comment' type='textarea' required='1' /][/ contact-form ]

Recommended Content

A well-written contact page will provide links to:

  • Your minister and staff listing
  • Your elected leaders page
  • Directions
  • Map

You might consider also including contact information for or links to any organizations that share your space (such as a preschool) if you often get mail or inquiries for those groups.

Other Pages in the "About" Section of Your Congregation's Website

Here are some pages you might consider adding to the "About" section of your congregational website.

The "Elected Leaders" Page

Include a page listing the board, committee chairs, and other high-level leaders of the congregation. Include information about what each officer and committee does and how to contact them. Show a group photo of one of these groups.

The Location Page

The Google Maps features of the Theme will generate directions to your location, and the footer will show your address. But it’s wise to have more information about your location on your site, such as:

  • Your physical address, with clarifying information like cross streets or neighborhood (for example, “2 Duane Court, at corner with Charles Street”)
  • Information about nearby public transportation: names of bus routes, train stops, etc.
  • A photo of the building
  • Links to your pages about accessibility
  • A description of the area, if relevant
  • Your mailing address, if different from your physical address
  • Hours for the congregation’s office
  • Where to park. Consider specifying where overflow parking is located for large events (for example, high-profile memorial services).

See this sample location page on our demo site.

The Accessibility Page

Include information and photographs showing how your congregation is accessible to people with a variety of abilities and disabilities. See UUA Example 1 and UUA Example 2 to build your own page about accessibility.

See the section on accessibility and disabilities for how to make your congregation more accessible.

The Rentals Page

Include pictures of spaces for rent and information about how to reserve space.

Have links to weddings, child dedications, and funerals here because some people will look for that information under Rentals.

If you have floor plans, include them too.

Be sure to include instructions so visitors know how to get more information or to arrange for a rental.

The "Our Governance" Page

Include a photo of governance in action, such as a photo of an annual meeting. Include information about what members vote on and what committees, ministers, and staff are empowered to do. Offer links to important foundational documents like the bylaws. Because members vote, provide links to your Become a Member page.

The News Section of Your Congregation's Website using the UUA WordPress Theme

The News section includes two kinds of pages:

  • News posts, including a news listing generated by the WordPress “Posts” function
  • Event pages, including a listing of upcoming events generated by the theme’s Events plugin.

On the Demo News Page, the main News page shows a list of the content you enter into those sections of WordPress. The sidebar lists upcoming worship services, which are described in the Worship section page.

News Listing

Read about How News Posts Work.

Events and Submit an Event

Read about How Event Pages Work. The Events and Submit an Event pages are generated by the Events Manager Plugin.

The Newsletter Page

The Newsletter page is yours to customize according to your congregation’s model of newsletter.

If you have an electronic newsletter, you can post an online version of it here in HTML. You may also wish to post in print-ready PDF format. If you do, make your PDF searchable and tagged, so that users of your site can more easily find the information they need (and so the information can be accessible to those who use screen readers). If you are using Microsoft Word or PowerPoint, you can often create searchable and tagged PDF files without opening another program. Paid versions of software such as Adobe Acrobat and Power PDF are also capable of creating searchable PDFs.

Privacy Issues

Since the advent of the Web, many congregations have created newsletter policies and practices that protect the privacy of members online. Such practices may include refraining from publishing personal contact information, personal joys or sorrows, or other sensitive personal information online or in the electronic newsletter. Some congregations create two or even three versions of a newsletter for this reason, with e-mail and online versions stripped of sensitive information that might be contained in a print version.

Some congregations maintain two electronic mailing lists: one for an e-news about events and general announcements, and one for active participants where personal information like the illness of a member is shared. We strongly encourage congregations to consider and abide by practices that strike a good balance between protecting personal privacy and making the congregation’s life and events accessible electronically.

How News Posts Work Using the UUA WordPress Theme

Creating a News Post

To create a page that appears in the news listing on your news page, create a new Post page by choosing Posts > Add New. (Or choose +New > Post from the menu at the top of the page.) Either way, you see an Add New Post edit page, where you enter:

  • Title: Short, with the most important words first
  • Text of the news item. Keep it short, too.
  • Set the date of the news item in the right-hand Publish box. Click the Edit link next to “Publish Immediately” and enter the date when you want the post to be published.
  • Under Categories, check “News” so the post will be included in news listings.
  • The Featured Image (scroll way down to see it in the right-hand column) displays an image at the top of the page. This image will be displayed in listings of news items, so it’s a great idea.

Where News Listings Appear

Homepage: You can display the most recent news posts on the home page. See the Homepage instructions, box “Home 6”.

News page: The page at <your-site>/news/ isn’t accessible from the main menu, but when you are on other pages in the News section, it appears in the left-hand sidebar menu. To configure it to display a listing of recent news posts, choose Settings > Reading from the Dashboard to display the Reading Settings page. Set the Posts Page dropdown setting to “News” and click the Save Changes button.

News > About News page: If your site has a page with the URL <your-site>/category/news/, it displays a listing new Post pages with Category = News. In the demo site, this page is entitled “About News” and it’s under “News” on the main menu.

Sidebar: The most recent news posts can also appear in the right-hand sidebar of most of your pages. Choose Appearance > Widgets to see what’s in your site’s Primary Sidebar — the sidebar that will appear pages (other than the homepage) unless the page specifies something different. The UUA Theme comes with the “Recent Posts: Recent News” width in the Primary sidebar. You can edit the settings for the widget, including whether to show the date and how many news posts to list, by clicking the widget.

How Event Pages Work Using the UUA WordPress Theme

The Events and Submit an Event pages are generated by the Events Manager plugin, a fully featured event registration management including recurring events, locations management, calendar, Google map integration, booking management. However, you don’t have to use all these fancy features if all you want is a listing of events on your website.

Configuring the Events Manager

You configure the Events Manager plugin to control where the event listing or calendar appears and what events look like. When you have installed the Events Manager plugin, then Events appears on the Dashboard. Choose Events > Settings to display the Event Manager Options page, with several tabs of options. Be sure to click Save Changes at the bottom of the page if you make any changes.

The News > Events Page

The Event page (on the menu at News > Events) can show a listing of events (that is, a listing of your event pages). On the Events Manager Options page, choose the Pages tab and click the Event List/Archives heading to expand it.

Set the Events Page to the page where you want the event listing or calendar to appear. You choose from a list of the page on your website.

If you want the listing to appear as a calendar, add the WP FullCalendar plugin, which formats the events as a calendar. Once activated, you’ll see a new panel in the Settings section for editing the options for calendar display.

Creating Event Pages

To make a new event page, choose Events > Add Event or choose +New > Event from the top menu. You see the Add New Event edit page.

  • Title: Be consistent about how these are formatted.
  • Text describing the event.
  • Starting and ending time and date of the event in the “When” box in the right-hand column
  • Event categories
  • The Featured Image (scroll way down to the bottom of the right-hand column) appears on the event page and in listings.
  • The location of the event goes in the Where box (scroll down to the bottom of the main column. Enter a complete address so WordPress can display a map. Once you’ve entered your congregation’s name and address once, you can enter the name in the Location Name and you won’t have to enter the whole address again.

Where Event Listings Appear

You can display a listing of upcoming events in the right-hand sidebar of your pages by adding the Event widget to the Primary Sidebar. Choose Appearance > Widgets from the Dashboard, drag the Events widget into the Primary sidebar area, and enter a title and other configuration information.

The demo site also displays an event listing at the bottom of the home page. Choose Appearance > Widgets and drag the Event widget into the Home 6, Home 7, or Home 8 area.

If Your Congregation Uses Google Calendars

If your congregation already uses one or more Google Calendars for tracking events, you can display these events on your WordPress site. The Simple Calendar - Google Calendar Plugin imports events from Google. (Read more about plugins on

Install the plugin as usual: from the Dashboard, choose Plugins > Add New. Search for "Simple Calendar - Google Calendar Plugin", click "Install Now" when you find it, and click "Activate". Now a new item “Calendars” appears on your Dashboard. Follow the plugin's instructions to get a Google Key to get access to the calendar and to configure the plugin.

Note: If you already got a Google API key for displaying a map to your congregation's location, you can use the same API key here.

The Worship Section of Your Congregation's Website Using the UUA WordPress Theme

Two subpages in the Worship section are automated using the UUA Services plugin, which displays the services pages that you create. The rest of the pages, including the Worship landing page, are regular pages that should explain how worship works in your congregations.

Worship Landing Page

Include a photo of worship in your congregation with some brief and inviting words about worship. Example language:

We gather together in spiritual community because we need constant reminders of what matters most in life. In a world of heartbreak and dehumanization, our congregations and communities call us to our better selves. We learn to live with more wisdom, more connection, and more compassion.

Our Worship Services are weekly reflections that weave together our own thoughts and experiences with music, beauty, poetry, and words that both comfort and challenge. Our programs for all ages inspire us, and awaken us to our capacities to make a difference in our own lives and in the world.

We are inspired not just by religious sources but by the people with whom we journey: the diverse and spirited Unitarian Universalists.

Connect with us to join in.

Worship Subpages

Past Worship Services and Upcoming Worship Services

More information about these pages are at Past Worship Services and Upcoming Worship Services. They list the worship services you enter as Service pages.

What to Expect in Worship

Include photo of worship. Include information about your regular practices and rituals, including chalice lighting, time for all ages, joys & concerns, meditation/prayer, etc. if applicable. Build on this example from the demo site.

Music and Choir

Include photos of the congregation’s musicians or the congregation singing. See content at the Music in UU Worship page for ideas. Include information on when the choir rehearses and how to join.

Child Dedications

Include information about what child dedications are, and how people can get their children dedicated by the congregation. You may also wish to indicate how they can arrange for a private in-home child dedication/blessing if your minister or religious educator offers those services. Search data on tell us that it is wise to use the word “baptism” somewhere on this page, because people new to Unitarian Universalism don’t know the words “child dedication” and instead search for “baptism.” See example language at the Child Dedications page.

Holidays and Traditions

Include photos from holidays and traditions you celebrate. Many newcomers are curious about how UUs celebrate holidays, why many of our congregations emphasize Christmas and Easter, etc. You can model your page after the Holidays in UUism page. If you have annual traditions like a Coming of Age ceremony, a candle-lit Christmas pageant, or an interfaith Passover seder, mention them here.

Memorial Services and Funerals

Include information about what makes UU memorial services and funerals special. See the Memorial Services and Funerals page. Include specific information about how someone arranges for a memorial service or funeral in your congregation and/or with your minister. You may wish to list a fee structure. You may emphasize that UU congregations and ministers honor the deceased with a highly personalized service based in their individual personality and beliefs.


Include information about what UU weddings and what makes them special. See the Weddings page. Include specific information about how someone arranges for a wedding in your congregation and/or with your minister(s). You may wish to list a fee structure. Be sure to emphasize that your weddings are for same-sex couples as well as other-sex couples, and that you create meaningful ceremonies for interfaith and “no faith” couples as well as Unitarian Universalists. Photos of weddings in your congregation or with your minister would be excellent on this page.

How Services Pages Work Using the UUA WordPress Theme

Each service (that is, worship service) is stored as a separate post. You create these Service posts and they remain on your website as a record of your worship services.

Each Service post has two date fields:

  • Service Date and Time:
    Click the input field to select the date and time of the service using the calendar and time picker.
    Note: The website will switch to showing the next service as soon as the date and time in this first field passes. If you have two services and you want the service to stay on display until the second service starts, use the start time of the second service.
    If you use the "Display Date and Time" text field below, this date will not appear on the website and is only used for determining whether a service is in the past or future.
  • Display Date and Time​:
    Enter whatever text you’d like to appear as the service date and time.
    For example, you can enter “April 1, 2018 at 10:30 am” or “1 April 2018 – 10:30 am and noon”. It’s free text, so you can enter the times of two services. Be consistent; it’ll look better. Or, you can leave this blank if you want the system to use the date and time from the first field.

You can include a title and description, which will be advertised on the homepage, upcoming services page, and sidebars throughout your site. Descriptions should be 50 words/240 characters or less.

You can add an image for the service by clicking on Add Media. (The image will only be displayed when someone clicks on the service title to learn more.)

Displaying Lists of Services

The different UUA Services plugin widgets display information from these pages using several widgets and shortcodes. Here’s where services are displayed on the demo site.

  • Future services are displayed on the Worship > Upcoming Services page using the [uua_services] shortcode in the text of the page.
  • The next upcoming service is displayed on the homepage using the UUA Featured Upcoming Service widget in the Home 2 widget-area, which you set on the Appearance > Widgets admin page. It also appears in the right sidebar of most pages using the UUA Upcoming Service widget in the Primary Sidebar widget-area on the Appearance > Widgets page.
  • Past services are listed on the Worship > Past Worship Services page using the [uua_services type="archive"] shortcode in the text of the page.

Creating a Service Page

To create a post about a worship service, choose Services > Add New from the Dashboard. Or choose +New > Service from the menu at the top of every page. Either way, you see an Add New Service edit screen, where you enter:

  • Service Title. Be consistent.
  • Text description of the service.
  • Set the date of the service. Starting with version 1.0, you set this in the “Service Date and Time” box in the right hand column, which contains two fields, “Service Date and Time” and “Display Date and Time​,” described above.
  • Choose one or more speakers in the “Speakers” box in the right hand column.
  • Under Topics, check one or more service topics that should appear on the Service post.
  • Don’t bother setting the Featured Image, because it doesn’t appear on Service posts.
  • If you want comments on the service, check the Allow comments checkbox.

Click the Publish or Update button to save.

Another option is to use the Duplicate Post plugin to make a copy of an existing Service page.

The Featured Service on the Home Page

If you use the UUA Featured Upcoming Service widget on the home page, it’ll display information about the closest future service based on the “Service Date and Time”.

The "Past Worship Services" Page Using the UUA WordPress Theme

Archives of past worship services go here, whether they are audio recordings, video recordings, or words to sermons. If the sermons are written, it is far more user-friendly and accessible to put the text into regular web pages, rather than PDFs. Worst of all is to post a Word document (DOC) file -- not everyone can open these.

The UUA Services Plugin can provide a list of past services. Add this text wherever you want the listing of services to appear:

[uua_services type="archive"]

This shortcode also works, although sooner or later it will be removed.


The "Upcoming Worship Services" Page Using the UUA WordPress Theme

Include a photo of worship, plus a listing of upcoming worship services with themes, leaders names, and short descriptions.

The UUA Services Plugin can provide a list of upcoming services. Add this text wherever you want the listing of services to appear:


If your congregation does not announce service themes in advance, you may wish to use this space to indicate things that vary Sunday by Sunday, such as whether it’s an all-ages service, whether childcare and religious education programming are offered, etc.

The "Learning" Section of Your Congregation's Website

The Learning Landing Page

This top-level Learning page highlights how the congregation partners with members in lifelong spiritual, ethical, emotional growth. It presents the overall philosophy of congregation’s faith development programs for all ages. Include photos of children, youth, and adults in the congregation.

Here's sample text:

Learning: What We Offer through the Lifespan

We provide children, youth, young adults, and adults an opportunity to explore, reflect, and learn in a nurturing spiritual community. Unitarian Universalist religious education programs offer all ages, inspiring:

  • Ethical growth – internalizing enduring values like justice, equity, and compassion, and gaining tools to act on them in everyday life.
  • Social growth – connecting with peers and people of all ages on a deeper level. Finding acceptance among people who see beyond the superficial.
  • Spiritual growth – feeling a connection with the sacred within, among, and beyond us.

Religious education programs include more than classes. On a Sunday you might find the preschoolers singing songs about kindness, the 2nd graders engaging with a story about loss and bereavement, the 5th graders talking with a Muslim couple about Islam, the 7th graders learning about responsibility in a lesson from our progressive sexuality education program, and the high-school youth raising money for the local homeless shelter. Many programs incorporate social justice activities, worship opportunities, service trips, fellowship and fun.

Our religious educator and minister lead many of our congregations’ lifespan programs. Parents and other members of the congregation often lead them, too. Teaching can be a very fulfilling way to deepen one’s own faith.

Children’s religious education programs are typically offered on Sunday mornings, and high school youth and adult programs are usually offered on afternoons or evenings.

We invite you to learn more and get connected!

Learning Subpages

Create sub-pages about learning programs for the various age groups in your congregation. Divide this in a way that makes sense for your programs and makes sense to people who are not familiar with your congregation. (For example, a subsection called “Our Whole Lives” is very confusing to someone who doesn't know that it is a sexuality education program.) Or if your preschool program is called “Tadpoles,” make sure you specify the ages in the title, e.g. “Tadpoles (age 3-5).” We recommend using ages or grades: that is the most straightforward and universally understood way of organizing your learning subpages.

Remember to include information about your nursery. Many congregations do not put this on their websites, but it is one of the key things that newcomers with infants and toddlers want to know about.

Include information about program seasons. For example, if you provide religious education programs only from August through May, indicate that, and indicate what is available for kids on Sundays in the summer.

Some potential subsections:

  • Nursery
  • Preschool
  • Elementary School
  • Middle School
  • High School
  • Younger Adults
  • Adults
  • Older Adults
  • Multigenerational
  • Families

The "Justice" Section of Your Congregation's Website

The Justice Landing Page

This page includes pictures of people in the congregation changing the world: working for justice through advocacy, activism, and community service. The text emphasizes “why we do what we do” in a simple and inviting way. See the social justice page for an example.

Justice Subpages

Service Projects

Emphasize here your community service projects, past and present. What volunteer projects and programs do adults, youth, and children engage in with the congregation? Provide links to partner organizations, and pictures of congregants engaged in service. Emphasize how to get involved.

Green Action

This page is for your advocacy, activism, and service related to climate justice and the environment. You may wish to link this with the Green Sanctuary page in the About section, or combine those two pages in one place. Talk about the ways your congregation limits its energy use, works with members to develop green practices at home, works in the community for responsible policies, and connects with the marginalized communities that are often most vulnerable to environmental degradation and climate change. Emphasize how to get involved.

Social Justice

This page emphasizes your advocacy and activism for social change. If you are involved with local or statewide coalitions, or if you are working on various social issues, this is a place to describe them, with pictures and links to partner groups. Emphasize how people in the congregation, including people new to the congregation, can get involved in this work.

The "Connection" Section of Your Congregation's Website

The Connection Landing Page

This is a place to emphasize the ways that participation in the congregation builds community, and the kind of support one can find. Many people visiting your site will not have experience participating in a congregation before, and may not be aware of the kinds of deep relationships that can form, and the ways that people can truly be there for one another in religious community. The language at's Connection and Care can be helpful. Our tree tests show that a significant minority of users will look for information about the choir and about religious education programs under Connection. Make sure your page includes links to the Choir and Learning pages.

Connection Subpages

Visiting Us

This is the page to which the First Time Visitor button on the homepage goes. Though your whole site should be accessible to a first-time visitor, this is a warm and welcoming page curated just for that audience. See an example on our demo site.

Caring Committee

This page describes the kind of care offered from member to member in times of need (such as meals, cards and flowers, rides to the doctor, rides to Sunday services). Be sure to indicate how people can receive the care or refer someone else to it. Also indicate how someone can involved in helping others. Title the page with the name of your group that does these things, which may or may not be “Caring Committee.”

Pastoral Care

This page describes what Pastoral Care is, and how to receive it or refer someone else to it. Be sure to describe who offers pastoral care: in many congregations, it’s not just the minister – pastoral care teams and religious educators often offer care as well. A picture of the congregation’s pastoral caregiver(s) is appropriate here.

Small Group Ministry

If your congregation has a Small Group Ministry/Covenant Group/Chalice Circle program, include information about it here. What are the groups? What kinds of topics do they explore? How does someone get involved? See's Small Group Ministry page for some language you can use.

Affinity Groups

Groups like the Knitting Group, Guitar Group, the Parents Group, the Interweave/LGBTQ Group, and the 20s/30s Group fall under the umbrella “Affinity Groups.” These are groups that gather within the congregation based on affinities of identity or interest. You may wish to develop 3rd level pages for these groups, or to simply describe the concept of affinity groups then provide descriptions and contact information for the various groups.


This page links to ongoing opportunities to volunteer in the congregation, such as: teaching children’s programs, serving refreshments, providing refreshments, ushering, serving on a team or committee, making food for the soup kitchen. Include pictures of volunteers at work.


This page enables people to donate directly to the congregation’s general fund, donate to special funds, and make pledges for future donations.

Become a Member

This page describes the process for formally joining the congregation, and encourages readers to get involved and take the next step.

A picture from a new member ceremony or event would be appropriate here.

The Website Privacy Policy Page of Your Congregation's Website

If you have a privacy policy for your website, it should be included on your site. Developer Christopher Wulff recommends putting a link to this policy in the footer of the site, so it shows up on each page. (That's what we on do If you don’t already have a website privacy policy, you may wish to develop one.

Form for Suggested Policy

The Chesapeake Unitarian Universalist (UU) Growth Committee recommended the following Privacy Policy to web folks in their area in April 2012.

Privacy Policy

This website is owned and operated by ____________, referred to in this policy as “we”. We recognize that visitors to our site may be concerned about the information they provide to us, and how we treat that information. This privacy policy addresses those concerns. This policy may be changed or updated from time to time.

If you have any questions about our Privacy Policy, you can contact us at: _______________ (email address and/or additional contact information)

We are available to answer your questions or hear your concerns.

The first principle of Unitarian Universalism is to covenant to affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person. We believe that this principle impels us to protect the privacy of visitors.

Personal Information

Our site collects personal information from our visitors only on a voluntary basis. Personal information may include __________ (examples to use in your policy: name, address, phone number, email address, credit card numbers). We do not require this information to obtain access to any part of our site. We do not sell or rent this personal information to other organizations.

The personal information we collect is only used by us to process a request that has been placed by the visitor. We never sell your email address and if you voluntarily give it to us, we will strive to use it only for what it was intended. If we pass it, it would only be to the congregation or person who has the information you desire.

Statistical Information Collected

We collect information on the browsing habits of users and the companies that provide that service also have access to that information. This site collects information using cookies and JavaScript, so if they are enabled in your browser, information can be collected, such as your browser type, operating system, IP address, and country. This information is only used for statistical purposes and cannot identify you as an individual.

Information Accuracy

We make every effort to ensure that the information presented is correct and accurate. If inaccuracies occur, we will make every effort to correct them in a timely manner. To report any web site inaccuracies or for questions about our Privacy Policy please email us at ________ (email address).

Links to Third Party Sites

Our web sites contain some hyperlinks to web sites operated by parties other than _________ (name of group). These hyperlinks are provided for your reference only. We do not control such web sites and are not responsible for their contents or privacy policies. The inclusion of hyperlinks to other web sites does not imply any endorsement of the material on these Web sites or any association with their operators.

Sample Congregational Policies

The Privacy Policy of the Unitarian Church of Los Alamos includes a section on site use by children.

Data and Computer Security

Read Congregational Data and Computer Security Guidelines to be confident your congregation’s information and computers are safe.

The Terms and Conditions Page of Your Congregation's Website

The footer includes a link to Terms and Conditions. Post your website Terms and Conditions here. You can use the Terms of Service Agreement as an example.

The Website Accessibility Page of Your Congregation's Website

This page describes the accessibility standards followed by your website – standards that make it accessible to a wide range of people with disabilities.

The UUA Theme for Congregations is designed with accessibility standards in mind. But the accessibility of your congregation’s site to people with a variety of abilities and technologies depends on many factors you will control.

How to Test Your Site

Congregations: The answers below will be true for most sites built with this template, as a high degree of accessibility comes built-in. However, this text must be considered point by point and re-written to reflect your website’s actual accessibility based on your actual content. Learn about website accessibility and how to test it from the UUA Web Team.

Sample Text for Your Congregation’s Site

[Name of Congregation] aims for the highest level of conformance on with the following guidelines:

Our web team assesses the accessibility of our home page and other representative pages, with special attention to site-wide features such as navigation, headers, and footers.

Other staff and volunteers are responsible for the content of individual pages, documents, and media.

Feedback is not only welcome but encouraged! Please contact us with suggestions for improvement or to alert us to a particular problem area.

Summary of Results

  • Section 508 conformance on _____ pages.
  • WCAG AA or better conformance on ____ pages.
  • We assessed our site against a 62-point checklist covering our use of media, colors, tables, forms, motion, time, documents, scripts, navigation, and headers.
    • ___ points conform fully or are not applicable, meaning that we do already or can reasonably be expected to live up to these points, e.g. good text alternatives for images, charts, or graphs.
    • ___ points conform in part. We may not have the staff time or funding to meet all these points, e.g. edited captions for long General Assembly business session videos.
    • ___ points don’t conform. Synchronized text alternatives to video are currently beyond our budget, and controls used to show or hide page elements with styles or to control video are not hidden when styles are turned off.

Accessibility Conformance Checklist

Last assessed in [Month Year]. 

In addition to using automated tools like Cynthia Says, we manually assess pages on our site against checklists like those from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (508) and WebAIM (508) (WCAG 2.0). The guidelines we have assessed (and our conformance with each) are noted below.


  • Do images that convey contextual content have equivalent alternative textspecified in the alt attribute of the img element?
    Yes or No
  • Do images that are purely decorative, and not contextual, have empty, or null, alternative text specified, e.g. alt=””?
    Yes or No
  • Does information conveyed by background images have equivalent content in text?
    Yes or No
  • Does the alternate text convey contextual relevance to the page it is on?
    Yes or No  A description of each image is entered as alternative text when it is uploaded to our server, and that remains persistent with each display of the image. When an image is added to a page, contextual relevance can be added as a caption.
  • Do images that convey complex content have longdesc attributes or equivalent text content available elsewhere on the page?
    Yes or No
  • Does text content contained in images persist when images are not available, i.e. is text contained within images also available as text?
    Yes or No

Image Maps

  • Do image map area elements have the link destination correctly titled? If the title attribute is used, it ought not to duplicate the alt text. Are links in server-side image maps repeated elsewhere in the page that are non-graphical, e.g. a normal list of links? Are client-side image maps used instead of server-side image maps? Do client-side image maps have appropriate alternative text for the image, as well as each hot spot region?
    N/A. Our site does not include image maps.


  • Do noframes elements have appropriate equivalent or alternative content for user agents that do not support frames?
    N/A. Our site does not use frames.


  • Is a full text transcript provided for all prerecorded audio?
    Yes No Mixed. Transcripts or text equivalents are provided for most new audio.
  • Is a full text transcript provided for all prerecorded video?
    Yes No Mixed. Transcripts or text equivalents are provided for most new video.
  • Are open or closed captions provided for all synchronized video?
    Yes No Mixed. Captions are provided for most new video.
  • Is fully synchronized text alternative or sound track provided for all video interaction that is not otherwise described?
    Yes No Mixed. However, much of our video does not rely on the visual conveyance of information and therefore does not require additional description.


  • Is information conveyed by color also conveyed by context, markup, graphic coding, or other means?
  • Does a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1 exist between text, and images of text, and background behind the text?
  • Does the color difference between text, and images of text, and background behind the text colors fall between 500 and 600?
  • Is a correct contrast ratio maintained when images are not available?
  • Are links distinguished from surrounding text with sufficient color contrast and is additional differentiation provided when the link receives focus, e.g. it becomes underlined?

With CSS Disabled

  • …is color and font information rendered in the browser’s default CSS?
  • … is a correct contrast ratio maintained?
  • …are headings, paragraphs, and lists obvious and sensible?
  • …does the order of the page content make sense as read?
  • …is most text, other than logos and banners, rendered in text rather than images?
  • …does any content that was invisible before stay invisible?
  • …is any content or functionality provided by the CSS through mouse action also provided through keyboard-triggered event handlers?


  • When tables are used for layout, does the content linearize properly when layout tables are turned off? For tables that are used for layout, are th elements orsummary, headers, scope, abbr, or axis attributes NOT used at all?
    N/A. Our site does not use tables for layout.


  • Do page elements avoid flickering at an unhealthy rate, e.g. less than three flashes per second?
  • Does pages avoid marquee and blink elements?
  • Can automatically moving, blinking, or scrolling content that lasts longer than 3 seconds be paused, stopped, or hidden by the user?


  • Is enough time provided to allow users to read and interact with content?
  • Does the user have control over the timing of content changes?
    Yes, but not on the Homepage Carousel of three images.
  • If a page or application has a time limit, is the user given options to turn off, adjust, or extend that time limit?
  • Can automatically updating content be paused, stopped, or hidden by the user or the user can manually control the timing of the updates, e.g. automatically redirecting or refreshing a page, a news ticker, AJAX updated field, a notification alert, etcetera?
  • Can interruptions be postponed or suppressed by the user, e.g. alerts, page updates, etcetera?
  • If an authentication session expires, can the user re-authenticate and continue the activity without losing any data from the current page?
  • Is the functionality of the content predictable, i.e. will a user experience contextual changes only when they take an action?

Documents (PDF, Word, etc.)

  • Does a document have a text-only version? If so, does it meet all Section 508 criteria?
    Yes or No
  • Does the text-only version contain the same exact information as the original document?
    Yes or No
  • Does the text-only version provide the functionality equivalent to that of the original document?
    Yes or No
  • Are links provided to any special readers or plug-ins that are required to interpret page content?
    Yes, No, or Not in context
  • Do special readers or plug-ins comply with the requirements of Section 508 paragraphs §1194.21(a)-(l)?


  • Is an alternative provided for components, e.g. plug-ins & scripts, which are not directly accessible?
    Mixed. Menu, Google search, and Google Directions do not work without JavaScript.
  • Is any content or functionality provided by JavaScript through mouse actionalso provided through keyboard-triggered event handlers?
  • Are link-type behaviors created with JavaScript on ONLY focusable elements?
  • If content or functionality provided by JavaScript can not be provided to assistive technology, is equivalent content or functionality provided without JavaScript?
    Mixed. Menu, Google search, and Google Directions do not work without JavaScript.


  • Do form non-text controls, e.g. input type image, provide a text alternative that identifies the purpose of the non-text control?
  • Does each appropriate input element or form control have an associated and visible label element or title attribute?
  • Are all cues for filling out the form available to users of assistive technology, e.g. mandatory fields, help boxes, error messages?
  • Is the tab order to reach the form and the tab order between form elements logical and consistent with the normal and visual order of entering form data?
  • Are logically-related groups of form elements identified with appropriate fieldset and legend elements?
  • Is placeholder text, if used, NOT redundant or distracting to users of assistive technology?
  • Do form error messages identify the error(s) to the user and describe them to the user in text?

Navigation & Headers

  • If repetitive navigation links are at the beginning of the source of the HTML page, can a user navigate via a link, the “skip link”, at the top of each page directly to the main content area?
  • If a “skip link” is provided, does the anchor element contain text content that is visible with CSS disabled?
  • If a “skip link” is provided and it is hidden with CSS, is it available to users of assistive technology, e.g. not using the display:none method?
  • Can a user navigate over groups of links, between multiple groups of links, and between sections of the page content by means of section headings or visible and audible local links?
  • Are heading elements used to convey logical hierarchy and denote the beginning of each section of content?

Embedding a Live Stream of Your Service

If your congregation live-streams your service, you may be able to embed a video player of the stream in a page on your website. Rather than sending folks to Facebook, YouTube, or another site, it's great to display the video player right on a WordPress page, along with the text of the order of service.

Refer to A Guide to Streaming Sunday Services, Meetings, and Classes for how to live-stream a service.

How to Embed Live Video

How to embed a video player with your live-streaming video depends on which service you use.

YouTube Live: To embed, click the Text tab when editing the text of a page, to switch to Text rather than Visual editing. Paste in the URL of the YouTube video. YouTube links can be in a couple of different formats, so be sure to use this one:

Zoom: You can install the Video Conferencing with Zoom plugin. It's brand-new and we haven't tested it. Please let us know if you use it.

Facebook Live: Here is an article on ways to embed a Facebook video, but it doesn't appear to work with a live streaming video until the event is over. This free service appears to solve that issue.

Other Recommendations

Make a page on the site with instructions for watching the service, and use this same page every Sunday so people always know where to go. If you embed a player, always put it on this page. Make the URL short and memorable (e.g.,

Consider posting the order of service on the page below the player.

After the service, you can copy the player and the order of service to the Service page for that Sunday.

Technical Documentation for the UUA WordPress Theme for Congregations

The UUA WordPress Theme for Congregation works with WordPress 5 and includes one custom plugin, as well as requiring a number of free plugins available via

Widgets Used in the UUA WordPress Theme

“A WordPress Widget is a small block that performs a specific function. You can add these widgets in sidebars also known as widget-ready areas on your web page.” (Read more about Widgets on

Several of the recommended plugins have widgets associated with them, as does the custom-built UUA Services Plugin (included in the UUA Theme). The Homepage and right sidebar of most pages are widget-generated.

Services Widgets

The UUA Services Plugin includes these widgets for your site:

  • UUA Featured Upcoming Service – used on the front page of the site to showcase the next upcoming service along with some quick links.
  • UUA Upcoming Service – displays an upcoming service. Used in the footer, sidebars or on the homepage.

The Worship section uses these widgets to display listings.

News Widgets

These widgets, which are part of WordPress itself, are available for listing news posts:

  • Archive that lists past news posts by month
  • Calendar
  • List Category Posts: Recent Posts that lists recent news posts

The demo site uses the Recent Posts widget to display recent news in the right-hand sidebar and at the bottom of the home page.

Events Widgets

The Events Manager plugin, if you have it installed, provides these widgets for listing event pages:

  • Events
  • Events Calendar

The demo site uses the Events widget to display upcoming events in the right-hand sidebar and the bottom of the home page.

Testimonial Widget

The Testimonials plugin, if you have it installed, provides one widget for listing testimonial pages:

  • Testimonials displays the most recent testimonial(s)

The demo site uses the Testimonials widget to display the most recent one at the bottom of the home page.

Plugins Used with the UUA WordPress Theme

WordPress Plugins

Ask questions here about the recommended plugins for use with the UUA WordPress Theme for congregations, or about other plugins you are using.

WordPress Plugins

“A plugin is a piece of software containing a group of functions that can be added to a WordPress website. They can extend functionality or add new features to your WordPress websites.” (Read more about plugins on

Recommended Plugins for the UUA Theme

These plugins are useful or provide features for the theme. When you download the Theme, you download some of them as well. Follow these instructions to install these plugins. Some aren't absolutely required; you can use an alternative plugin if you prefer to provide that functionality. The links below bring you to informational pages about each plugin.

Carousels or Sliders

Recommended starting with UUA theme version 1.3.0:

  • MetaSlider – A widely used and well-supported plugin with many options. The demo site includes a slider (a.k.a. carousel or slideshow) on the homepage. Here are instructions for creating a homepage slider.

No longer recommended, because of lack of support:

  • CPT Bootstrap Carousel – Powers the rotating display of images and text on the homepage. If you update to version 1.10 (released in March 2019), your captions may disappear. Here's the fix, from UU Jim Gasparini: The plugin developer suggests that the problem has to do so with plugin settings, which you can find fro the Dashboard under Carousel > Settings. Previously there was one option to show the title and the caption. Now there are two options, one for title, one for caption. If you had the previous version then you now need to explicitly turn on captions; otherwise they will be hidden. After re-updating, both "Show Slide Titles" and "Show Slide Captions" were set to Show, but neither displayed. Jim was able to get the titles to display by setting "Show Slide Captions" to Hide (leaving "Show Slide Titles" set to Show.)

Page Formatting

  • Custom Sidebars – Enables you to display different widgets on the sidebars or footers of any page of your site
  • List Category Posts – Allows you to list posts by category

Sunday Services

  • UUA Services – A custom-built plugin that comes installed with the UUA WordPress Theme for Congregations. It displays information about Sunday (or other) services: upcoming and past.

Events and Calendars

  • Events Manager – Fully featured event registration management including recurring events, locations management, calendar, Google map integration, booking management
  • WP FullCalendar - Formats your calendar nicely. Works with Events Manager. Once activated, you’ll see a new panel in the Settings section for editing the options for calendar display.

Testimonials/Member Stories

Recommended starting with UUA theme version 1.3.0:

  • Jetpack – Includes a testimonial feature. See these instructions for setting up testimonials, which usually appear in the About > Our Stories section of the site.

No longer recommended, because of lack of support:


Additional Plugins Congregations Are Using

Follow the links below to learn more and download these plugins, which are do not come with the UUA Theme.

Pop-ups and Banners

Events and Calendars


Members-Only Section

Staff Listings

  • Staffer – Uses custom post types for people management, allowing you to create and manage an onsite directory of people (board, staff, etc.). This plugin was recommended with early versions of the theme, but unless you have a large staff, it's easier to create a page for each staff member and a page that lists everyone on the Minister and Staff page. Note: The last version that works well is version 2.0.2, available from Github. Don’t update to later versions.

If you have a plugin you recommend using with the UUA theme, let the Outreach Office know.

The UUA Services Plugin: Part of the UUA WordPress Theme for Congregations

The UUA Services plugin is packaged with the UUA Theme download. To install and activate it, see step 4 on Installing the Plugins Required by the UUA WordPress Theme for Congregations.

What the UUA Services Plugin Does

We wanted to be sure to offer an integrated way to handle services (Sunday morning or other services), arguably the most active parts of a congregational site, with the UUA Theme. The UUA Services Plugin does the following:

  1. Creates a custom post type for Services
  2. Creates two custom taxonomies for grouping Services (Speaker and Topics)
  3. Adds two widgets:
    • UUA Featured Upcoming Service – used on the front page of the site to showcase the next upcoming service along with some quick links.
    • UUA Upcoming Service – displays an upcoming service. Used in the footer, sidebars or on the homepage.
  4. Adds a shortcode that you can include on pages to display service information:
    • [upcoming_services] – list the upcoming services, along with speaker and description.
    • [uua_services type="archive"] – list an archive of past services, with most recent services first.

(The [upcoming_services] and [service_archive] shortcodes used in earlier versions of the plugin continue to work, but we recommend switching to the new [uua_services] shortcode when it is implemented.)

How to Use the UUA Services Plugin

  1. Add your regular worship leaders’ names under Services > Speakers.
  2. Add some upcoming services under Services > Add New. See "How Services Pages Work" for instructions.
  3. Add some past services under Services > Add New. Be sure to indicate the date and time of the service so that it will show up under Past Worship Services on your website. For past services, you can add the text of the sermon, audio recordings, video recordings, or a picture. Add the text in the text box, and click Add Media to add an .mp3, .mp4, or .jpg of the service. If you podcast, see below for information about the Seriously Simple Podcasting plugin, which integrates well with the UUA Services Plugin.

The plug-in automatically moves services from Future to Past when they have occurred. Be sure that your site’s settings use your congregation’s local time zone so it will do this accurately. (Go to Settings in the administrative dashboard to change the time.)


After reviewing the demand and the level of development necessary to maintain podcasts within the Services metadata, we decided that it would be preferable to instead recommend the use of the very effective Seriously Simple Podcasting plugin, which allows us to attach podcasting functionality to the Services without having to build and maintain that functionality ourselves.

Using Shortcodes with the UUA WordPress Theme

What Is a Shortcode?

A shortcode is a WordPress-specific code that you can include in the text of a page to display information. A shortcode can display a file or display information that would normally require lots of complicated, ugly code in just one line. Shortcode = shortcut.​ (More information.)

Enclose the shortcode in square brackets and enter it on a line by itself.

Shortcodes Included with ​the UUA Theme and Services Plugin

Note that there's an underscore, not a hyphen, in these shortcodes.

  • [uuatheme_map] – Shows a Google map of the specified address.
  • [uua_services] – Shows a list of upcoming (future) or past services from the UUA Services plugin.

Deprecated Shortcodes (used in earlier versions of the UUA Theme):

  • [service-archive] – Replaced by [uua_services type="archive"]
  • [upcoming-services] – Replaced by [uua_services]
  • [uua_staffer] – Replace with [staffer​] included in the Staffer plugin.
    Shows a list of staff profiles from the Staffer plugin. We do not recommend the Staffer plugin unless you have a large staff; otherwise, it's easier to create a regular page for each staff and a page that lists them.
  • [uua_testimonials] – Shows five testimonials from the Testimonials by WooThemes plugin. Use the Jetpack Testimonials feature, as described in the "Our Stories" instructions, and the Jetpack [testimonials] shortcode instead.

Map Shortcode: [uuatheme_map]

Displays a Google Map of the address entered. You can add your Google API Key to the Customizer > Congregation Map settings for more advanced map options. If you don't, it defaults to the free embedded map.

You can use the following attributes with the [uuatheme_map] shortcode:

  • address – (Required) Specify the address for the map.
  • width – The width of the embedded map. Defaults to 100%
  • height – The height of the embedded map. Defaults to 400px


[uuatheme_map address="6300 A Street, Lincoln, NE 68510"]

Services Shortcode: [uua_services]

Display services by type with support for pagination and sorting, replacing the need for these deprecated shortcodes: [upcoming-services] and [service-archive]. The deprecated shortcodes will be removed in a future release of the UUA Theme.

To specify whether you want past or upcoming services, use the type attribute. The type can be "upcoming" or "archive". If you omit the type, the default value is "upcoming".

Example 1: List the upcoming services:


Example 2: List an archive of past services, with most recent services first:

[uua_services type="archive"]

We'll introduce other attributes in future versions of the plugin.

Staff Shortcode: [uua_staffer]

Lists the staffers from the Staffer plugin. Note: Early versions of the UUA theme recommended that you use the Staffer plugin to create staff listings. However, unless you have a large staff, just create a page for each staffer and link to it when appropriate. The Staffer plugin is unnecessary.

The [uua_staffer] shortcode will be removed in a future release of the UUA Theme. We recommend using the [staffer​] shortcode included with the Staffer plugin instead.

Example: List staff in the RE department in ascending order by staff name:

[staffer department="re"]

Shortcodes Included with ​Recommended Plugins

These shortcodes are not part of the UUA theme or Services plugin. The explanation of each shortcode includes the name of the plugin from which it comes.


Displays a list of event categories (which are explained in the Events Manager plugin documentation). Choose Events > Event Categories from the Dashboard to see and add to the list of event categories (which are different from news post categories).


Displays a list of news posts in a single category. E.g., [ catlist name="news" ]. Choose Posts > Categories from the Dashboard to see and add to the list of post categories (which are different from event categories). (List Category Posts plugin)

[contact-form to=’ ’][subject=’Contact from the Website’][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Comment’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form]

Display a contact form via the Jetpack plugin. Replace “ ” with the email address to which form entries should be sent.


Displays a calendar of events. (Events Manager plugin).


Displays a list of events, with lots of options (which are explained in the Events Manager plugin documentation). This plugin offers a number of other shortcodes.


Displays a carousel, also known as a slider or slideshow. (CPT Bootstrap Carousel plugin) We recommend that you use the MetaSlider plugin instead.


Lists locations where events can occur. Choose Events > Locations from the Dashboard to add locations. (Events Manager plugin)


Lists the staff from the Staffer plugin.


Lists testimonials from the Jetpack plugin. Example: List 5 testimonials with only their titles:

[testimonials showposts="5" display_content=false]

This article about installing and using Jetpack for testimonials includes a list of shortcode options.

Creating a Child Theme of the UUA WordPress Theme

A child theme is a theme that inherits the functionality and styling of another theme, called the parent theme. Child themes are the recommended way of modifying an existing theme. Check out the WordPress Developer Handbook for detailed information about Child Themes.

If you only want to change CSS styles, use the Jetpack plugin's Custom CSS option in the Customizer instead. Use this child theme if you want to make functionality changes.

You can download the starter child theme (ZIP file) and customize it for your congregation.

Version History of the UUA WordPress Theme for Congregations

1.3.3 - September 10, 2020

Another fix for the Customizer incompatibility.

1.3.2 - September 3, 2020

Fix incompatibility with Customizer in WordPress 5.5.

1.3.1 - March 27, 2020

Enhancement to the Theme: Enable displaying a banner at the top of every page. Here are instructions.

We also published instructions for embedding a live video player on a webpage.

1.3.0 – September 6, 2019

Enhancements to the Theme:

  • Carousel: Added support for the MetaSlider plugin as an alternative to the barely-supported CPT Bootstrap Carousel plugin. Both now work.
  • Testimonials: Added support for using the Testimonials feature of Jetpack as an alternative to the Testimonials by WooThemes plugin.
  • Added visual shortcuts to the Customizer view to make editing the homepage, sidebars, and header/footer easier. See configuring your homepage for more detailed instructions.

Fixes to the Theme:

  • Show default setting of Site Color Scheme option for new installs. Defaults to "Dark Blue."
  • Minor improvements to the theme's header.php template.

UUA Services Plugin (Version 1.1.1):

  • Enhancement - added support for Jetpack Copy Post to duplicate existing Services.
  • Enhancement - updated Kernl Update Checker for getting new versions.
  • Fixed - display correct service date on old services where the Service Date & Time fields are blank.
  • Fixed - order taxonomy archives by service date and not published date. For example, viewing services by topic.

1.2.2 – February 20, 2019


  • Ensure the theme's recommended plugins use the correct download link for the UUA Services plugin; allowing users to update to the correct version.

Additional steps after updating: None needed.

1.2.1 – December 14, 2018


  • Prevent fatal error with the UUA Feature Box widget on sites running on PHP 5.6 or lower.

Additional steps after updating: None needed.

1.2.0 – December 12, 2018

Enhancements to the Theme:

  • Optimized theme images.
  • Enable map to display without Google API Key.
  • Automated release management, to make it easier for the UUA to do more frequent releases.
  • Kernl now tracks PHP version and language of theme installs.
  • Updated example child theme.

Fixes to the Theme:

  • Prevent horizontal scrolling on mobile view.
  • Fix the UUA Feature Box widget refusing to accept images.
  • Better security by sanitizing widget and shortcode input.
  • Recommended plugin notices should not appear for non-admins.
  • Remove example “Custom Template” page template.

Enhancements to the Services Plugin (Version 1.1.0):

  • Expose the service data to the WordPress REST API to allow developers to interact with services remotely via JSON. For example: http://<your-site>/wp-json/wp/v2/uu_services.
  • New shortcode [uua_services] to simplify service listing and limit the number of services per page.
  • Renamed “Service Time Display” admin label to “Display Date and Time.”
  • Use the WordPress General Settings date and time format for displaying dates by default.
  • Sort services by service date in admin panel.
  • Fix service AM/PM issue.
  • No longer requires template files from the theme; allowing the plugin to be updated independently.

1.1.3 – March 1, 2018


  • Fixed sidebar issue on pages with the [ staffer ] shortcode
  • In Services plugin (1.0.3), fixed worship service issue where services were considered to be in the past too early.

1.1.2 – January 16, 2018


  • Removed jQuery enqueue function.
  • In Services plugin (1.0.2), corrected the div placement in the services archive shortcode.
  • Thank you to dgranja and Heather Chen.

1.1.1 – January 9, 2018


  • Fixed JavaScript so carousel right/left links work
  • Updated listings of services so that speaker wasn't in the left column anymore on upcoming or past services. Also fixed the commas when there are multiple speakers.
  • Fixed the full-page template so that the sidebar no longer shows up.


  • Home page widget images now pop out a little when you hover over them.
  • Added custom fields to services for service time and display service time.The “Service Date and Time” field is now what the system uses to determine whether the service is in the past (in the archive) or in the future (on the Future Services listing). We no longer use the publish date for this purpose, which allows congregations to publish their services instead of scheduling them. This will allow you to link to and promote future service pages. The “Service Time Display” field is what’s displayed on the site; you can enter “Jan. 1, 2018 at 10am and noon” or any text to show multiple service times. Note: The service date should be migrated from the scheduled date for all existing service pages. Oddly, sometimes it won’t display on the administrative pages but does on the site.
  • Updated logos for Welcoming Congregations and Green Sanctuary
  • Implemented Google Maps API key. Google now requires an API key to be entered for the map under the directions to work.
  • Added a description field to archives (so bios added to speakers in the description field will show at the top of their archive page).
  • Added a UUA inSpirit Bookstore widget. You can choose from three types of books to display.
  • Fixed the upcoming and past services shortcodes to allow them to display inline (text above and below the listings).
  • Added topics to the single-service view.
  • Fixed the media library image uploader for home page featured box widgets.
  • Added a function to allow HTML in excerpts. For example, you can include links in the excerpt for services, including adding a “Read More” link if you want people to go to the full service page.
  • Enabled changing the text that’s built into the theme (e.g., for sites in other languages).
  • Created a child theme for customizing templates and functionality. Use the Additional CSS option in the Customizer (if you have Jetpack turned on) for simple style changes.

1.0 – October 26, 2015

  • Initial Public Release

Switching from the CPT Bootstrap Carousel to the MetaSlider Plugin

The UUA Theme (version 1.3.0) now supports the widely-used MetaSlider plugin. You may continue to use the CPT Bootstrap Carousel plugin, but we recommend switching to MetaSlider which is well supported and highly rated.

The CPT Bootstrap Carousel wasn't actively maintained for years, which prompted the need to find this replacement.


To replace the carousel on the homepage, you first create a MetaSlider slideshow and then configure the homepage to show it. Follow these instructions to install MetaSlider and create your slideshow.

Then, display your slideshow on the homepage:

  1. From the Dashboard, choose Appearance › Customize. You see the customization page for the homepage.
  2. Click the little blue pencil icon near the upper left of the carousel. The settings for the Home 1 widget area appear in the left sidebar of the screen. (See Configuring Your Congregation's Homepage for details.)
  3. Remove any existing widget and add a MetaSlider widget.
  4. Select the slideshow you want to display.
  5. Click Publish to update the homepage.

Using Links to Improve Your Search Results Ranking

Link to Your Own Pages

Your first step for search engine optimization (SEO) is to link to every page! Users and search engines alike will not be able to find your pages if you don't link to them. Be sure your navigation and/or the text of your pages provides at least one link to every page on your site.

Get Links from Other Sites

The number of links your site has from other sites is one of the ways search engines determine the relevance and usefulness of your site, and this can definitely have an effect on your ranking in search results.

It's important to note that search engines these days do a pretty good job of showing search results relevant to what an individual is looking for. There's no need to try to "trick" the search engines into ranking your pages higher than they would naturally, and in fact, employing devious techniques will hurt you in the long run. Review "10 Google Dont's" for some sure-fired ways to hurt your search ranking.

The best way to get more links to your site is to provide content that people want to link to (sermons, how-to's, stories, and meditations are examples of popular kinds of content; of course, only post original materials—don't violate copyright laws). Offer some great content, and perhaps mention it to a few other sites who might want to link to it, and the rest will take care of itself.

Another easy and honest way to increase the links to your site would be to share links with your Unitarian Universalist (UU)neighbors, perhaps in one or more of the following ways:

  • People searching for a religious home in your area may find it very useful to know there are other options nearby.
  • Once readers have exhausted the sermons posted on your site (or perhaps decided that your minister isn't quite to their taste), they may appreciate being pointed to other sermons.
  • If you coordinate with other congregations for outreach or other programs, be sure to include links to your partners' sites.

It's quite likely that your congregation's site won't have too much competition for rankings on searches for UU churches in your area, but it's worth some effort to try to get your site in front of seekers who may not know what they're looking for. How does your site perform on a search for "Sunday School programs in [your town]," for example?

Be sure to pepper your title, headers, and text with a variety of relevant key words and phrases and consider adding meta descriptions in order to make sure seekers know right away from the search results they see whether your religious community might be the right home for them.