Joining us for the first time?Find the answers to your questions below!
What time is worship on Sunday?
From September to June, worship service begins at 10:00 a.m. and aim to end around 11:00 a.m. During July and August, worship begins at 9:30 am, and we worship jointly with our sister UCC South Church (9 Pleasant Street). In July, South Church hosts worship, and in August, First Church hosts. You can see our summer schedule here.
What should I wear?
There’s no dress code here at First Church! Wear what makes you feel most like yourself. Some people wear their “Sunday best,” but you’re just as likely to find others in slacks and a casual shirt or jeans. Your presence and your spirit are what matter the most.
Are children welcome in worship?
Yes! Children are a special part of our congregation, and we value them as full participants in the life of our church. For the first part of worship, everyone worships together. After the Message for All Ages, children kindergarten through fifth grade are welcome to attend Sunday school if they so choose. On Communion Sundays—the first Sunday of the month—the kids come back early to break bread with the adults. If you would like, a children’s bulletins and crayons are provided by the ushers.
What's a Sunday morning like at First Church?
When you walk in the doors of First Church, you’ll be given a bulletin in order to follow the order of worship. The service begins with a selection of music called a prelude. Shari Lucas, our minister of music, usually plays a piece on our Austin organ. Next, Pastor Julia Burkey welcomes everyone, and church members come forward to share announcements and news.
Service is a time to worship together. We pray, sing hymns, and listen to the music offered by our choirs. We read scripture together, followed by an inspiring sermon.
We love the chance to connect with each other during worship. The passing of the peace is a big deal at First Church, so expect quite a few handshakes! (Pro tip: If you aren’t a big fan of a big passing of the peace, you may prefer to sit towards the outside rather than the center.) We also cherish our time sharing our joys and concerns, learning to lean on one another in times of happiness and sorrow.
On the first Sunday of every month, we celebrate the sacrament of communion. Please see the answer to “Who can participate in communion?” below for more details. Note: On Sundays when communion is served, there are no announcements, and the time for joys and concerns is replaced by silent prayer led by the minister.
We end service with the same benediction, or closing prayer, every week, so don’t be intimidated by the people who have it memorized! Oftentimes people will reach out to hold hands or place a hand on another’s shoulders. This is not a requirement, however, and we respect any choice you make in regards to participating in that ritual.
After the benediction, we listen another selection of music, called the postlude. You may either sit quietly and enjoy the music or head into Fellowship Hall (also known as the parish hall) for coffee, snacks, and conversation.
About twenty minutes after service ends, someone will ring a bell in Fellowship Hall to signal the beginning of our Second Hour program. Second Hour is a time to learn more about a specific topic and changes every week.
Who can participate in communion?
Everybody! We believe in open communion—anyone who wishes to take communion may do so. You don’t have to be baptized, and you don’t have to be a member of the United Church of Christ. Believer or doubter, sinner or saint—you are welcome at the communion table.
We celebrate communion on the first Sunday of each month. We practice intinction, meaning that you will approach the front of the sanctuary, take a piece of bread from the plate, and dip it into the cup. To make our communion extra inclusive, we use non-alcoholic grape juice and offer the option of gluten-free bread.
A deacon acts as a guide and will let you know when to approach the front of the sanctuary. If you do not wish to participate in communion, you may stay in your seat. Alternatively, you may approach the front with your arms crossed, and the minister will say a blessing for you. If you are unable to approach the front because of mobility issues but want to partake in communion, let the deacon know. They will make sure that you are served at your seat.