“We worship God. We serve God. We get to know God.”
January 20, 2019, 10 AM
The Website has nothing specifically for visitors, but it gave most of the information I needed. The worship section explained that there would be a children’s sermon promptly at 1015 and then they would be dismissed for Sunday School. Even though I’m a believer in having children participate in worship, I like that they offer this for those who want or need it. Also, this church has a woman pastor, which I’m particularly excited about. Interestingly, there is very little about their core beliefs. No mention of the Bible or creeds or statements of faith.
I arrived a few minutes early and used the bathroom. Inside the small room, a woman greeted and welcomed me. She seemed surprised that I would visit on such a dreary, rainy day. Then, I entered a side entrance to the sanctuary and sat in one of the shorter pews facing the right side of the altar area. Most of the congregation sat in the longer pews facing the front of the altar. The Choir and music director arrived promptly at 0958 AM, sitting on the other side of the altar. The Pastor and liturgy leader (another woman) entered and sat in the altar area. I’m pleased to see that we’re starting on time (this especially appeals to us ex-military types).
First off, I’m impressed with the flow of the service which seems thoughtful and intentional. It begins with the Welcome, including brief announcements and then the Pastor asks us to pass the peace. Amazingly, everyone just greets those around them. No one gets up and goes cross-country to chit-chat. It lasts only a few minutes, which seems appropriate, and then the chimes ring and that’s the signal for everyone to shut up and sit down. I love it.
The service formally began when a child came forward with a candle lighter and lit the two main candles on the altar. Then there was a Call to Worship, a hymn of praise, prayers of adoration, confession and pardon, and The Gloria Patri. The Proclamation of God’s word was next, which included the children’s sermon, reading the Bible texts and the sermon. Everything seemed to flow in a logical and spiritual order. The pastor preached the best sermon I’ve heard in a long time. She followed notes but it didn’t feel like she was reading to us. The sermon was relatable, informative and well thought out. When she finished, we continued the service with Responding to God’s Word, which included reading an affirmation of faith, hymn of response, prayers of the people, and giving of our offerings. We finished this section with standing for the Doxology and a prayer of dedication. We Go in God’s Name with a closing hymn and a benediction. The entire service lasted short of an hour, but the sequence felt refreshing, honest and spirit building.
During the offering time, the pastor said: “Please share the gift of your presence with us by signing the pew pads and passing them down your aisle.” I think it’s clever to tie our presence with the offering. At the end of the service, the one man sitting in my pew said, “Hello, Susan, is this your first time here?” He had read my name in the pew pad.
During the pastor’s sermon, she looked around at the people in her congregation. It shows she is not afraid to look at people, to really see them. She even looked right at me several times, which leaves me wondering why she didn’t greet me personally. She could have done it during the greeting time or even at the end of the service. Surely she can tell I am not a regular. I know she has a lot on her mind when leading worship, and for that reason, I’m giving her a pass this time. I just think it was a missed opportunity to greet the stranger in her midst.
Overall, however, because the man next to me noted my name and greeted me personally, this church PASSED the WELCOME TEST.