What to Expect in Worship
A Typical Sunday Morning Service
From September to mid-May, Sunday services are held at 9:30 am and 11:15 am and usually last about an hour and a quarter. The 9:30 am service is ASL interpreted for those attending who are hearing impaired. Special headsets for the deaf/hard of hearing are available at both services – check in with a host or with the sound booth operators for assistance with these. During the summer months, late May through the beginning of September, we have only one service at 10:30 a.m., which is also accessible to the hearing impaired.
As you walk into the foyer, hosts are available to greet you. The welcome table can offer you a name tag, directions to the RE wing for children’s religious exploration or the nursery, and information about happenings today. You can ask for general information about our congregation and sign up for our newsletter, if you wish. If you need hearing assistance, ask here to be directed to the sound booth.
Hosts at the entrance to the sanctuary will offer you today’s program with the Sunday Bulletin. Go in and sit down where you are comfortable. A Host can help you find a seat if the service is crowded.
Our minister, Rev. Rick Davis, usually conducts the service, but we may have visiting speakers. They are assisted by a congregation member called the celebrant, and by a person at the sound/AV booth called the anchor. During the summer months, most of the services are led by members of our congregation or special speakers.
In the sanctuary there is usually a musical prelude, which gives the congregation a few minutes of quiet time before the service. Our service starts with a singing bowl, and a centering thought for this particular day.
After a welcome by the celebrant or speaker, we light three chalices. The flaming chalice is a symbol of Unitarian Universalism.
An opening song and welcome begins the service. Later in the service we sing the children and their teachers out to their classes through a “love arch” which we make by arching our arms over the center aisle.
When the children have gone, we have our ritual “candles of joy and concern”. A member of the Lifelines Lay Ministry will read those concerns that were written in a book in the foyer. If there is time, they may invite persons up to share their concerns or joys. With each concern or joy, a candle is lit and placed in the special sand-filled container. We always light one candle for unspoken joys and concerns at the end. This ritual may be replaced with a shorter ritual, where the minister invites the congregation to call out names or situations that are of joy or concern to them.
A short reading follows, and music is played/sung during the offertory, as ushers pass the basket. We “Share the Plate” with a specific community non-profit or UUCS ministry each month. We invite everyone to bring donations for the Marion-Polk Food Share to place in a basket at the front of the sanctuary, after the offering basket passes.
The sermon or presentation is next, usually about 20 minutes. Sometimes this is followed by a short meditation time and/or a question session. Then we sing a closing song, and extinguish the chalices. Our closing ritual is to all link hands and say the closing words: “May faith in the spirit of life, hope for the community of earth, and love for the sacred in one another be ours, now and in all the days to come.”
There is a fellowship hour immediately following each service, with coffee and tea served in Hanneman Hall. Sometimes food is offered as well, and we hope you will stay and partake. Often congregational groups such as the Social Justice, Microfinance, or Religious Exploration Teams have tables set up with information to share. Please stay and let us get to know you. Newcomers may wish to visit the Welcome Table where members are looking forward to meeting you and sharing information about our congregation and what it means to be a Unitarian Universalist.
Some Sunday Services follow a different format, in order to create a sense of community or mark important events. Here are some examples:
A ritual for the fall in which members bring real or symbolic water to combine in a large container while they verbally share what it represents in their lives during the summer or the past year.
A springtime ritual communion in which congregation members bring a flower for a large bouquet, and then take a different flower home, symbolizing a sharing of talents and gifts in this congregation.
Coming of Age
A ceremony for middle school youth who have completed a program of study with a mentor to create their own personal credo. Each makes a presentation of their credo in front of the whole congregation. This is usually held in May.
A service planned and carried out by the high school youth, usually in the late spring or early summer.
Ceremonies Within the Service
Occasionally we include special ceremonies within the service, such as the following:
A ceremony for young children in which the congregation, minister and the parents affirm their commitment to help in the spiritual growth of the child.
New Member Recognition
A ceremony in which new members officially become members and are welcomed to the congregation.