ARE YOU NEW?
You are welcome here at Union Church Berea, whether on our website, at one of our virtual services, or at an in-person service. Masks are required as Madison County has bumped up into the “Yellow Zone.”
A woman wandered into Union Church one day some years ago. She was welcomed cheerfully and given a bulletin. She sat next to an older lady who also seemed happy to see her, shared her hymnal, and whispered a bit of insider advice: “Just so you know, our custom is to stay seated for the whole postlude.” That woman came back the next week and the next, joined the choir, has been a member for years, and can still tell you which text the pastor preached from and what the children’s moment was about on that first day. She felt like a beloved member of the family from her very first visit.
If you visit, we hope you have an experience like this. But if you want some of the insider advice in advance, here it is, offered with a smile and a helping hand.
First and foremost, what to expect from this beloved community
We do not believe in conformity. In fact, here at Union Church, we believe love demands diversity and rejoices in it. You will not be told what to believe or how to act, and the only expectations we have are that you be true to yourself and your values, and that you speak and act in love.
We do not believe in absolutes, or in certainty, or in absolute certainty. We believe love demands questions, and faith does, too. You will never be shut down for having doubts or questions; your doubts and questions will be as welcomed as you are. You will find a place to discuss and dig into your faith. After all, how can your faith be truly yours if you have not taken it apart, turned it inside out, examined it, and put it back together?
We do believe in your giftedness. You have unique and special thoughts, attitudes, and abilities that we are lacking if you are not here. We happily welcome you to explore whether Union Church is the best place for you to bloom and grow.
What to expect from a church service
In the sanctuary
- You will meet friendly and helpful greeters at all entrances. They are provided with worship bulletins, hearing assistance devices, and directions to bathrooms, nursery, etc. All questions are welcome.
- We want to know your name, so most people will be wearing name tags, and you will be offered one. Early in the service all will be invited to “Pass the Peace,” which is a chance to get up, move around, and greet your neighbors.
- You’ll need that bulletin! Our services are interactive and you will be welcome to participate as much or as little as you like. See a sample bulletin.
- Children are welcome in all services and are welcome to be children. If your worship joy needs quiet and peace, you are encouraged to sit farther away from the children’s worship center in the back left corner of the sanctuary.
- It will be helpful to know that we follow the Revised Common Lectionary. Each week, the sermon, the music, the prayers, the altar art, and the prayer stations are carefully and prayerfully built around the lectionary readings for that week. Our goal is that all learning and experiential styles will feel at home and personally blessed.
- Communion is celebrated on the first Sunday of every month and is open to all. This is not our table, but Christ’s, and you need not be a member of this church or any church to partake. Clear instructions will be given, and you can also simply follow someone in your row to know what to do when.
- During the summer months, our Community Life & Growth Board will offer lemonade on the front porch, and all are welcome to gather to visit!
Online (especially during the Covid-19 pandemic)–
Note: We have streamed our services live for several years, and regularly have watchers from several countries; however, during the pandemic, our online service was our only service, and it’s better and richer than ever before. A whole team of people spends a great deal of time and energy seeing to it that our virtual services are as diverse and interesting as our in-person ones. You may watch here on our website, on our Facebook page, or on our YouTube channel. On the latter two options, you will also have the ability to see and join in chat, including greetings, prayer requests, and responses to the service. You will see and hear:
- Greetings from various members
- A welcome from the pastor
- Bible readings and prayers from many members
- A children’s moment
- A dynamic sermon of about 20 minutes
- Prayer time. A member or friend will pray and lead us in the Lord’s Prayer. See the form of Lord’s Prayer we use in the current bulletin.
- A closing hymn, with the words on the screen so that you may sing along wherever you are. (The one thing we wish technology allowed was to sing actually together, without digital delays and confusion!)
- A blessing and a final, usually meditative, musical selection