The language of “service” (as in Sunday Service) is reminiscent of Catholic and other forms of worship which were based on liturgies, or scripted conversation, designed to teach doctrine and re-enact shared beliefs among a community of believers. When we refer to the Sunday Service, we are referring not to a specific liturgy, but to a program of readings, music, meditations, essays, silence, sharing, and more, the goal of which is to remind us of our highest ideals while acknowledging the realities of human life.

People’s Church Sunday Service – The Gathering of the Community

We begin with The Gathering of the Community, which includes:

  • Music for Gathering – welcoming, inspiring, and/or contemplative, to help people bring their attention to this time and place
  • Welcome – an assurance that all are free to attend and participate
  • Announcements – an educational moment, to inform about the priorities, work, and current events of the congregation
  • Introit – usually a song or music, to signal the setting aside of regular or daily concerns and the intentional turning to a time of reflection and aspiration, together
  • Opening Words – a statement to remind us why we gather – in this place, in this w
  • Lighting of the Chalice – the symbol of our liberal religious heritage, an affirmation of our core values of religious freedom, reason and embrace of diversity
  • Opening Song – re-affirming our gathering and our intentions, using our bodies and breath

People’s Church Sunday Service – Affirming Our Connections

Having taken time to settle in and focus our attention and intentions, we move to Affirming Our Connections, which usually includes:

  • Wisdom from the World’s Traditions – a reading from one of the sources of wisdom for our religious growth and learning, from any and all of the classical religious traditions, or from poetry, prose, science, etc.
  • Sharing Service – a story for all ages, aimed primarily at elementary aged children, to help them learn about our tradition, to help them know and feel that they are a valued part of our inter-generational community, and to help them understand what it means to be a Unitarian Universalist. The children and youth leave for their classes following this time of sharing.
  • Pebbles of Joy and Sorrow – a time to share with each other the most important things that are happening in our lives – our experiences of loss and gain, of birth and death, of fear, of joy and gratitude of sickness, recovery and health. This kind of sharing is very important for us as a community, to know what is true and real for each other and therefore for ourselves – to affirm the realities which connect us. It is also a very big challenge: to tell our own truths to focus on the most important things. This is not a time for political opinions, announcements of events, stories about other people, or long-winded details.

People’s Church Sunday Service – Searching for Wisdom and Inspiration

Having been reminded of what we share, we move into Searching for Wisdom and Inspiration, which usually includes:

  • Spoken Meditation and Sharing of Silence – to nurture contemplation, honesty, and inner peace
  • Music for Reflection
  • Readings – introducing important points or perspectives to be explored in the sermon
  • Sermon or Presentation – focusing on a topic of importance for our religious, spiritual, and congregational lives, for education, inspiration, challenge and comfort
  • The Offering – the sharing of our resources towards living out the missions and goals of the church. If you are visiting you are not expected to contribute – but if you choose to support our shared work, we welcome your contribution.
  • Giving Thanks for All That Sustains Us – our collective reminder that life is a gift, and together we can make a difference
  • Sharing and Discussion – an opportunity for responses to the sermon, as time permits

People’s Church Sunday Service – Returning to the World

Finally, we arrive at the time of Returning to the World, which usually includes:

  • Closing Song – once again to engage our bodies and breath in our intentions
  • Closing Words – a reminder to keep our ideals in our minds and hearts amidst the distractions of daily life
  • Postlude – music for going out together