What to expect
Visiting a new church can be intimidating. It’s common to have questions about what the experience will be like. In the United Church of Christ we like to say, “No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here.” It is our goal to make your visit a stress-free, enjoyable experience. Recently Plymouth Church voted to become an Open an Affirming church meaning that our welcome extends beyond traditional views that often discriminate. We, cannot therefore, stress enough that we want to be welcoming to everyone – whatever your background, sexual orientation, social status, or religious practices (past and present) including those who may have never been to church before. So, if you’re visiting for the first time, here’s an overview of what to expect.
Where do I go when I get there?
Our main entrance is at 124 W. Washington Street in Burlington. If you don’t know where we are, our location page will show you the way. Parking is available in the church parking lot directly across the street from the church or in the Town Bank Parking lot next to the church.
As you enter the front door, you should find someone friendly to welcome you, answer any questions you have, and direct you up the stairs to the parlor and worship area. We also have an elevator should that be preferred. As you enter the parlor an usher will provide you with a bulletin which has information about the morning’s service and other current information about the church. Ushers can also answer your questions and guide you to a seat should you like assistance. No worries though, you can sit anywhere.
The parlor is an area to gather and chat before the worship service starts as well as the gathering area after the service where coffee and treats are served.
What’s the service like?
If you’ve been to other Congregational or Protestant churches, our services should feel familiar. If this is all new to you: We start with pre-service music followed by a call to worship, typically there are 3-4 unison songs in the service, readings from the Bible, a sermon, a time of prayer, and special music by one of our choirs or guest musicians. We pass the peace of God to the people around us by shaking hands and saying, “Peace be with you,” or simply, “Peace.”
How long are they?
Our services typically run an hour; sometimes a little longer if we have a special mission presentation or on those days when one of the sacraments (baptism or communion) is shared. Our hope is that the time will fly by as we seek to share quality time together.
What is the style of worship?
Our worship is a blend of traditional and contemporary. From September through early June, our traditional choir assists in leading worship twice a month, while our hand bell choir and praise band provide music monthly. Accompaniment: Sometimes it’s organ, sometimes piano, while other times guitar music is used for leading worship.
What about children?
During the school year nursery care for infants through preschool is available. Children in kindergarten through elementary school begin worship with their families, have a children’s time during the service and then leave for Sunday School. They rejoin their families following worship. During the summer, the nursery room is available for parents but is not staffed.
We have a LOGOS ministry program which meets weekly on Wednesday evenings during the school year for children in the 2nd grade through high school. A traditional vacation bible school for youngsters meets for one session in the summer.
What should I wear?
Our philosophy is “come as you are.” So, wear whatever you feel comfortable in. Some of our folks prefer wearing “church clothes” (semi-formal) while others prefer t-shirts and jeans; even shorts in the summer. We just want folks to feel comfortable.
Do I have to put money in the offering plate?
Giving is an essential part of being a person of faith. But whether or not someone is able to give, we always treat everyone the same. We do “pass the offering plate” during worship but we do not expect our guests to make an offering unless they feel moved to do so. As you might expect, the offerings we share are used support the work of the church in its operations, as well as in are mission to serve the wider community; locally and beyond.
Will I have to introduce myself?
You can expect a warm greeting from members of the congregation, but don’t fret! You won’t have to stand and introduce yourself or sing a solo while visiting us.
What about Communion?
On the first Sunday of the month as part of our worship, we celebrate Communion, also called the Lord’s Supper; a ritual Jesus himself instituted in his final meeting with his disciples before his execution. In the United Church of Christ we practice open communion. Therefore, any and all who wish to participate are welcome to do so. Communion is one of the two sacraments we practice (Baptism being other) and is a moving time for the community of faith to experience a sense of unite with other Christians. We share communion through “intinction” by all coming forward, dipping bread pieces in a common cup, and partaking. ALL are WELCOME at the table without regard to church membership or belief.
Coffee and conversation
If you join us for worship, by all means, introduce yourself. After worship, we hope you’ll join us for a cup of coffee, juice, or lemonade, and a goodie (something sweet or salty). This is a time for conversation and fellowship and we look forward to meeting you. We hope you experience Plymouth’s warmth and friendliness but if we somehow miss you (which we usually don’t) please know that we are only human and it was certainly not intentional.