Each year as we meet the fall again, it never fails that I hear the twinge of heartache from many in the congregation – how nice it’s been to be under one roof, for one service. If I’d ever consider returning to one 10am service year-round.
It’s such a lovely heartache, as heartaches go: the want to be with one another.
The story of moving to two services is often retold – or at least a portion of it – the portion of how hard it was to no longer see friends and chosen family who chose the “other service.” At one point the two services were an hour apart but, I am told, it felt like the congregation was further apart then, too. So we moved to 9:15 and 11am, 45 minutes in between, just enough time to clear the parking lot, and just enough time to give hugs and say hello to those first or second service goers.
A lot has changed since that initial need for two services, though. And we’re getting creative about how to make sure folks are connecting with one another and with the UUCWC system. In one odd, perhaps ironic, and I promise thoughtful effort, we will once again be moving the services to 9am and 11am; moving the first service up by 15 minutes and creating a full hour between.
Over the last few years the congregation has grown at a rate that is both in need of celebration and also new systems, new communication, new intentionality. One third of the congregation joined in the last five years. Folks aren’t sure how to get involved, who is in leadership, how to get into leadership. Others speak of not knowing everyone – not just folks in the other service, but surrounding them at their familiar time.
And so, we are creating the Middle Hour, from 10-11am, in which new programs like Faith Forward will be offered every single Sunday. Faith Forward extends the path to membership and is open to all. It creates a space each week to learn about social justice, music and worship, religious education, or the like. Each week an opportunity to meet with one leader of these ministries, ask questions, get involved. Each week an opportunity to learn how we do church.
We invite you to think creatively about how that Middle Hour may serve you. The Board of Trustees will also be offering a time with the Board (no agenda, just show up) each month during that middle hour, to stay connected, share feedback, stay informed. Childcare will continue though that time, giving parents an opportunity to do quick committee work that may otherwise only meet during dinner or bedtime. Brief Adult RE will be offered during this time, a reflection of the sermon perhaps, or the theme. And best of all, if you recall when we were thinking of hiring for the Sunday Steward, the first and second service attendees, have an opportunity to connect, to commune, to use this space for community rather than only work or worship.
I appreciate that 15 minutes can feel like a big change for some. As always, please be in touch with any questions or concerns. This decision did not come thoughtlessly or without a lot of conversation, research, or discernment. We will reassess how this is working after three months, take the pulse of all those in the congregation about the time change, and be in touch with what we find that’s working or not. This is for you, the congregation.
Here’s to opening up new possibilities and connection in surprising places. Join us for Middle Hour!