Worship

Congregation Easter 2013We’re on Fall-Spring Schedule:  Adult Study class, 9 AM (lower level Fellowship Room).  Worship, 10:15 AM.  Children’s Sunday School follows “Time with Our Children” during the 10:15 worship hour, except on the first Sunday of each month (communion Sunday).

[Our Summer schedule, Memorial Day Sunday-Labor Day Sunday, is worship only at 9:30 AM.  Nursery care is available during worship for children up to kindergarten age.]

What’s worship like at First Congregational UCC?  Our worship could be described as mainline Protestant, with great love for tradition, but also with a lively spirit, and plenty of space for new ways of singing and praying and celebrating and sharing.  We value “inclusive language” that honors God and humanity, particularly in terms of gender.   After gathering time and music, we share a welcome, news of the church and prayer requests–both concerns and joys.  We then enter into the more structured order of worship, with hymns,  prayers, more hymns, songs, spirituals and global music expressing praise to God, celebrating creation and the call to be peacemakers. There are scripture readings, choir anthems or special music, a time with children (aka children’s sermon), and a pastoral meditation (aka sermon),  reflecting on themes in the day’s scripture.

_DSC9764After sharing “the word,” we respond with prayer-including the “Lord’s Prayer”, and with an offering of our gifts-usually financial, but often including items collected for charitable groups beyond our walls.  On the first Sunday of each month, we also respond by sharing Holy Communion (the Lord’s Supper or Eucharist).  Worship concludes, with or without Communion, with the singing of a hymn, a benediction (“good word”) from the pastor, and a choral benediction. There is usually a postlude– music to send us on our way.  Worship generally lasts about an hour.

How do you serve Communion, and what is the understanding of Communion at First Congregational UCC?    In general, we offer a prayer of thanksgiving, remember God’s acts of creation and salvation, and recall Jesus’ last supper with his disciples. The pastor prays that the Spirit be present in our sharing the meal and the moment, that we be spiritually fed and remember God’s presence in our own lives and the lives of all people and that we recognize that presence as a congregation, “Christ’s body.”  We then share bread and cup–at First Congregational we use grape juice (many churches use wine). Those in the congregation wishing to receive communion come forward and take a piece of bread, dip it into the chalice (cup), eat and return to their seats. There may be singing, playing of music, or silence for reflection and meditation. Servers will take the bread and cup to those who may find it difficult to come forward but wish to commune. Communion always concludes with a prayer of thanksgiving spoken by all.

Who may receive Communion at First Congregational UCC?   Short answer:  ALL!   We have long practiced “open” communion. We believe that Christ’s invitation is to all– from the youngest to the oldest, people of all walks of life, every race, creed, gender, orientation, class, faith understanding, church membership. Each comes as she or he understands their need, their thankfulness, their relationship with God and others.

What should I wear?  Short answer:  Clothing…we’re casual, but not THAT casual!  Seriously, folks come to church in clothing that is comfortable.  For some, that means dressing up in their “Sunday best”.  For others, it is a  t-shirt and jeans or shorts.  But, for most, it’s somewhere in between…like “casual Friday” or “business casual” clothing.

What about physical limitations–mobility, hearing, sight?  We try to make worship accessible through various means.  We have an elevator that goes from the parking lot entrance to both the upstairs worship/fellowship/narthex area and the downstairs large fellowship room, kitchen, parish nurse’s office, a classroom and the nursery.  An accessible restroom is on the upper level.  We have a “T-Coil” loop hearing system that amplifies from our microphones directly into hearing aids (most are now equipped with this feature).  And enlarged Sunday bulletins are available each Sunday.  Accessibility is an on-going concern and we will do our best to assist you in your needs.  Handicapped parking:  there are two marked spots in the church parking lot and a marked space on 6th Avenue, closest to the church.  Senior parking:  we have recently designated three parking spots for “seasoned” folks who may have mobility challenges and could use a closer spot, but don’t have handicapped tags.

What about children?  We feel it is important to include children in the worshipping community. Recognizing an hour in worship can be a challenge, we provide special children’s worship bags with quiet, fun activities, children’s bulletins and, following the weekly “Time with Our Children”, children in 1st grade through middle school ages are welcome to participate in Sunday School, and we have a nursery for our youngest who are kindergarten age or younger.  Sunday School and the nursery are staffed by volunteers background-checked through our Safe Sanctuary policy.  A table with room for coloring, puzzles and the like is available right behind the sanctuary and may prove helpful if staying in worship proves too challenging–we just ask that children be accompanied by a parent/guardian.

Is there a Sunday School for children?  Yes, for pre-K through grade 8.  September through May children’s Sunday School is held during the 10:15 AM worship hour, after “Time with Our Children”.  The exception to this is on the first Sunday of each month–“communion Sunday”–when children will stay and participate in worship with their families.

What is the parking situation?  There is a church parking lot for about 12 cars.  There is abundant additional parking in the municipal lot across the alley from our parking lot, as well as on-street parking.  Handicapped parking:  there are two marked spots in the church parking lot and a marked space on 6th Avenue, closest to the church.

Location:  We’re easy to find at the corner of Broadway and 6th Avenue (address: 131 6th Avenue), just two blocks north of the courthouse square.  A Wells Fargo bank office is beside us on Broadway.  And, no, we’re not the church at 4th & Broadway–that’s our friends at First United Methodist.