If you drive by too fast, it's easy to miss.
Nestled within the trees off curvy Morris Bridge Road sits the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tampa, a meeting place for people seeking an alternative to mainstream religions.
There, people meet to mediate and ask questions, to reflect on current affairs and uplift one another. There, nature is celebrated, love is embraced and God has many forms.
The church, which opened in 1959, is in transition. Last summer, the Rev. Sara Zimmerman retired after five years. The Rev. Doak Mansfield, 65, a recent heart transplant survivor, is serving as interim minister until 2015.
Mansfield was ordained by the UU church in 1976 and has served at churches in Ohio, Alabama and Mississippi. I spoke to him about what it means to call oneself a Unitarian Universalist.
In your words, what is Unitarian Universalism?
Our premise is that freedom is the foundation of any spiritual or religious path. Unitarian Universalism is a disciplined search for truth. We are not creedal. We come together to look for truth without the expectation of finding absolute answers. We believe love is better than fear.
Unitarian Universalists are usually very socially conscious. We are proud of where we stand on issues like social justice and equality. Many people call these liberal ideas. I think they are just humane ideas.
How many members attend programs at the Tampa UU?
We have registered 123 members. We have a really active community. We have a diverse group of good people. We recently opened our new multipurpose building and we have the Dome, where we host concerts.
What does the Tampa UU offer the community?
We have the ongoing Sunday concert series. We are partnered with HOPE, the Hillsborough Organization for Prosperity and Equality, and are very involved in social justice issues. We marched in the Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade. We have our ongoing children's religious education programs.
What do the children's programs teach?
The children study world religions. They study human nature, the discovery sciences and the natural world. They study our key principles. For instance we believe in the inherent worth and dignity of every person.
I can preach to you about God, Jesus, Mohammed or Confucius, but unless you get your act together and make your own decisions, you're really just buying into what I'm telling you. We teach that we are all a part of another and part of a great whole. So the children explore what it means to be a human being.
What is the biggest misconception about Unitarian Universalism?
That we don't believe anything.
Really, we don't believe in greed. We don't believe in differences. We're ethics driven.
If I had to say my personal theology, it's that love is a verb. God is a verb. We're in this life, on a journey with others, looking at all the magic in the world. I have the heart of a 32-year-old black female ticking in my chest now and so I'm able to be here.
In a cynical world with all kinds of misunderstanding I think telling people you're okay as you are and let's work well together is a good thing for people to believe in. But I'm naive.