“Wherever you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here.”
Other kinds of others: A Chapel Hill church redefines ‘open and affirming’
August 9, 2016 – by Jesse James DeConto – The Christian Century
How do I get to the church?
What are the services like?
Worship is the heart of how we connect with our faith community and is our common time together as the people of God. At our services, you’ll see a range of ages from boucing babies in parents’ laps to smiling grandparents … and a range of attire from jeans to suits & ties and even the occasional Easter bonnet.
Summer Services – 9:30 am and 11:15 am
Early Riser? Our early 9:30 am service starts bright & early to help you get a jump on the day. You may also participate in our bilingual worship service La Mesa y Café at 11:15 am led weekly by Reverend David Mateo.
No matter which time works for you, our summer morning services are uplifting experiences with encouraging and inspiring sermons, a rich diversity of joyous sounds from our many music groups from Gospel music to the rich, traditional sounds of our organ.
Communion is offered at both services.
United Church is handicapped accessible and offers wireless hearing assists. ASL (American Sign Language) translation is provided at the 9:30 am.
Enjoy time for fellowship following both services.
Catch up with old friends and meet new ones … wake up your taste buds with a sip of our rich, delicious coffee.
Sunday school for all ages at 10 am (September through May).
Childcare is provided throughout the morning.
We welcome people of all ages, races, sexual orientations and abilities to join in worship with our open, caring congregation. We are an Open and Affirming congregation.
What else is available for my baby/child?
We are happy to provide care for babies, toddlers and early elementary-age children throughout our Sunday morning worship services and Christian Education programs. Our nursery is staffed by long-time Director Alison Robertson and a team of capable attendants. Alison is a professionally trained and accredited child care provider.
Parents of newborns are welcome to sit in the rocking chairs in our sanctuary, or to comfort their children during services in our Family Parlor.
Sunday School (September through May)
We offer separate classes for children ages three through third grade, and a combined fourth/fifth grade class; our seven classes are led by teacher teams of at least three volunteers. Our sessions center on significant stories from the Old and New Testaments, as presented by the Rock Solid curriculum. Parents can stay engaged in and informed about their child’s Sunday School experience by reviewing the weekly take-home flyer.
Vacation Bible School (Sundays in July)
Each summer the Board of Children’s Ministries organizes a VBS experience for UCCH children and friends. Held on four consecutive mid-summer Sunday mornings, our program is open to children ages three through rising 6th grade. Every week we learn Bible stories, participate in educational crafts and discussions, and sing songs related to the theme of the year.
What else is available for me?
Adult Education at United Church
We believe that Christian Education is a lifelong venture that includes struggling with scripture and the stories of our faith that challenge us to be in right relationship with God and our community. We seek to offer meaningful Christian Education programs for every stage of life. During the church year (September – May) we offer many adult education opportunities.
Sunday Morning (10 am) Offerings for Adults
Ongoing classes for adults at United Church include:
- Adult Forums – discussions on topical subjects
- Faith and Family Class
- Spiritual Growth Class
- Sacred Conversation on Race Class
Wednesday Evening Programs
Nurturing both faith and fellowship, United Church has three Wednesday evening series during the program year. The first in September, Wednesdays Together, welcomes everyone back from their summer break and newcomers to our community. In January, we interrupt January’s darkness with Light Up Your Winter; and as a preparation for Easter’s joy we engage our hearts and minds in a Lenten Series. We begin each evening with a simple supper provided by the Fellowship Board from 5:45 to 6:30 pm followed several program options from 6:30 to 7:30 pm
Wednesday Sermon Shaping (Library, 7 am) – On Wednesday mornings at 7 am in the church library, join one of your pastors and fellow church persons in looking ahead at the lessons for the coming Sunday. It’s early, but the coffee is on and the study is rewarding.
Monday Book Group (September through May, 12 pm) – Join Pastor Richard Edens and our book study group for sack lunch and engaging book discussions throughout the year.
I like the services. Now what?
Membership at United Church
You can attend and participate in activities and ministries without becoming a member.
However, becoming a member is a public acknowledgment that this is your household of faith, the community that you covenant to love, uphold, serve, and shape and by whom you are willing to be shaped, challenged, and sent forth to serve. If you are interested in uniting with United Church, please speak with one of our pastors. The pastors also would enjoy meeting you for coffee, a meal, or just an hour to become better acquainted.
You can be received into church membership through:
- Profession of Faith and Baptism – If you are not now a baptized Christian, our pastors will be honored to discuss the meaning of baptism with you in your home or at the church.
- Transfer from Another Congregation – At your request, our pastor will write to your former church for a transfer of membership. This is a courtesy to your former congregation so it may remove you from its membership rolls.
- Re-Affirmation of Faith – Some people find themselves re-entering church life after a lengthy absence; and while they were once baptized, there is no longer a former church from which to transfer. In the reception of new members, we make no distinctions between those joining by transfer or re-affirmation. All are reaffirming their baptism and making a covenant that clarifies their relationship to this congregation.
- Associate Membership – Often, students and others here for a short duration do not want to disturb their membership status at another church but do want to participate fully in the life of this congregation. Associate members have all the rights and duties of active members except the right to a letter of transfer to another church.
Steps towards membership:
- Check the box on the Friendship Register (as it is passed by you on Sunday morning) that says “Wish to Join this Church”, and write in your contact information.
- Attend an “Interested Persons Gathering” so that we can get to know you better and so that you may ask any questions that you have about United Church and its ministries.