What to Expect in Worship
We gather in worship to find meaning and live more deeply. Worship creates connections within, among, and beyond us, calling us to our better selves, calling us to live with wisdom and compassion.
Unitarian Universalist worship styles vary by congregation, and even within congregations. Some congregations’ worship is contemporary and high tech. Some congregations’ worship is traditional and formal. Some features exuberant music, some includes long periods of silent reflection. Our congregation’s worship is [insert adjectives].
Elements of a typical Unitarian Universalist Sunday morning worship service include:
- Words of welcome
- Lighting a flaming chalice, the symbol of our faith
- A multigenerational segment, such as a “story for all ages”
- Music, both instrumental and vocal and in a variety of styles
- A time for lifting up the joys and concerns of the congregation
- A meditation or prayer
- Readings—ancient or contemporary
- A sermon given by a professional minister, a guest speaker, or a member of the congregation
- An offering, collecting financial donations for the congregation or for justice work in the community.
From time to time, worships incorporate holiday celebrations, multigenerational plays and pageants, longer musical performances, child dedications, and coming-of-age ceremonies. We offer childcare and learning programs for children and youth during the Sunday service.
Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions:
What should I wear to church?
Most people dress fairly casually at our church. In the winter, sweatshirts, sweaters, and slacks are very common. Wear whatever feels comfortable to you.
How do I get to the church?
See our directions page.
When are your services, and what are they like?
Our services are every Sunday at 11:00 a.m. They vary in style and content, but usually have songs, readings, a sermon, and a candle-lighting time for members and visitors to share their joys and sorrows. Sermons can be on different religions, spiritual issues, life issues, and social justice concerns.
Will you take up a collection?
We take a collection every Sunday, called “Gifts of the Congregation.” Visitors are invited to be our guests, and are not expected to contribute. We also take quarterly collections for different community agencies that we have voted as a congregation to support.
Can I bring my children?
Yes! We welcome people of all ages.
What do children do during the services?
Children come to the sanctuary for the first part of the service, and then are “sung out” to go to religious education classes for school-age children, and the nursery for infants and toddlers. About once a month we have an intergenerational service where children stay in the service for the whole service. Junior and Senior High Youth stay in the service an additional Sunday per month. We also have classes for 3-4 year olds once a month.
Can my child stay with me during the service?
Children are always welcome to stay with the adults during the service.
Tell me about your Religious Education Programs for children.
Please see our Religious Education pages.
Is your church Christian? Are there people in the congregation who hold diverse beliefs?
Our church started as a Christian Universalist church. Many people in our church are Christian. However, many people in our church are not Christian, too. We have members who draw from many world religions, and members who are Atheists and Pagans. Our church is a “non-creedal” church, which means that members do not have to accept any particular statement of belief to join.
Are people like me welcome here?
Yes! Our church welcomes people of different theologies, political views, race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnicity, ability, and nationality. Whoever you are, you are welcome here. We are a Welcoming Congregation that welcomes LGBTIQ people.
What do Unitarian Universalists believe?
While Unitarian Universalists do not have to accept any particular creed, or statement of belief, many people find the UU Principles to be an important statement for their religious beliefs.
What makes your church different from others?
The diverse beliefs of our members is something strikingly different from other churches. We define “church” not by the fact that we all believe the same thing about the big questions of life, but by the fact that we all ask the same questions and all worship together. For us, religion isn’t a statement of what we believe, but a statement of who we are and how we relate to the world.
Will I be pressured to join?
You may be asked, after attending for a while, if you are interested in joining, and different people may ask you this question. However, it is fine with us if you choose to remain a “friend” without joining for a long time or a short time. We have some people who join the church right away, others who take years, and non-members who have attended for decades without joining.
Is it true that your church is accepting of gays and lesbians?
Yes. Our church voted in 2004 to become a welcoming congregation, after having undergone a process of information and education. We have many BGLT members, and our minister proudly performs same-sex weddings.
Is your building disability accessible?
Yes, our sanctuary, social hall, and a restroom are all accessible. The ramped entrance is in the rear, to the right as you approach the building. Our “parsonage” where our offices and nursery are and our schoolhouse are not yet accessible, but it is a goal we are working towards. If you would like to attend a church event held in one of these locations, and you have accessibility needs, please contact the church and we will attempt to accommodate you.
How do I meet other people? How do I get involved?
The first step is often attending our social hour following the service. Next, attending our social events, usually held once per month, is a good way to meet people. We also have adult religious education classes a few times per year. Many people find that when they join a committee, they get to know people better, as well.
Can I get married at UUCEL? Even if I’m not a member?
Yes. Our historic sanctuary is a lovely location for small (up to 100 people) weddings. Our minister performs weddings for members and non-members, at the church and off-site. See our minister for further information.