Worship Services

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Description of Worship Services

Our minister, the Rev. Molly Housh Gordon, in the pulpit

From mid-September to mid-May, we offer two worship services on Sunday at 9 and 11 a.m. The rest of the year, we offer one worship service at 10 a.m. Services last about one hour.

The 9 a.m. service is interactive, intimate and family-friendly. Joys and sorrows are shared in a spoken-aloud format, there are often other interactive elements of the service. Music varies in style, with special performances from musical church volunteers and regular offerings from small vocal ensembles. Nursery care is provided.

The 11 a.m. service is inspirational, reverent and familiar. The chairs face forward, and there is less expectation of interaction. The children are present for about the first 15 minutes, which includes a story for all ages and a clergy-led ritual of joys and sorrows, and the children then exit to their regular religious education classes. Music varies in style with special performances from musical church volunteers and regular offerings from our choir. Nursery care and our full religious education program for preschool through high school are offered at this time.

Although each of our services is unique, services usually begin with a welcome and announcements, after which newcomers and visitors are given an opportunity to introduce themselves (but are not obligated to do so).

Interspersed with a variety of music and hymn singing, the typical service also includes the lighting of the chalice, one or more inspirational readings, a “story of faith” from a member of the congregation, a sermon or homily, an offertory, an opportunity to express joys and sorrows, and a closing benediction.

After the service we gather back in the Greeting Area for fellowship, conversation, and coffee.

Members of a group called the Worship Associates assist in planning worship services and also participate in conducting services.

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Lay-Led Worship Services

Our lay-led services honor our commitment to lay involvement in church leadership and our church’s history. We began in 1951 as a lay-led fellowship, and thus all services were lay led until we called our first minister in 1980.

From September through May, the minister steps down from the pulpit one Sunday each month, and the service is entirely lay led, usually by one of the groups in the church, such as the Writer’s Group, Social Action, or the high school youth group.

During the summer, the minister is in the pulpit half the time, and the Worship Associates organize lay-led services the rest of the time. These services are often non-traditional and unique, and allow individuals to speak to a topic of interest or lead the congregation in exploring a variety of activities related to the many facets of worship and spirituality. Summer service topics have included an Animal (Pet) Blessing, Silence, What It Means to be an American, and the Honduras service trips.

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Schedule of Future Services

From mid-September through mid-May, we offer two worship services at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. on Sundays, unless otherwise noted. From mid-May through mid-September, we have one worship service only at 10 a.m. on Sundays. On our Home Page you will find details about the worship service for the coming Sunday. Plans for worship services also are included in the Church Calendar.

January 2018 Worship Schedule – Services at 9 and 11 a.m.

Sunday, Jan. 7 – “Awakening” – Rev. Molly Housh Gordon

The Buddhist holiday Bodhi Day is celebrated in many sects of Buddhism to commemorate the day that the Buddha reached enlightenment. As we begin our month contemplating “Clarity,” we will learn about this holy day and ponder what it means to awaken.

Sunday, Jan. 14 – “To Speak the Truth in Love” – Martin Luther King Jr. Sunday – Rev. Molly Housh Gordon

Our weekly words of affirmation claim that we covenant to “speak the truth in love,” but what does that mean when the truth is hard to hear? The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of a fierce and demanding love and spoke truths that were often much more radical than we remember. Join us to honor his legacy and ponder our calling to speak the truth with fierce and urgent love.

Sunday, Jan. 21 – “Words Matter” – Special Guests

In this era that some have called post-truth, when the charge of “fake news” is serious but often used broadly and frivolously, the words we use matter. Join special guests to reflect upon what it means to seek clarity in the age of fake news and fuzzy truth.

Sunday, Jan. 28 – Founders’ Day Sunday – Rev. Molly Housh Gordon & Members

Join us to celebrate our congregation’s past, present and future as we observe the 67th anniversary of our founding. Hear from members across the years to learn more about the meaning of this community, and enjoy our special mass choir performing favorites from yesterday and today!


Minister’s January Worship Message

Resilient Community Weaves In . . . Clarity

More important than the quest for certainty is the quest for clarity.

– François Gautier

When I was a kid, “magic eye” posters were all the rage. They were colorful posters that just looked like static until you let your gaze relax into just the right place of unfocused focus. When you found that magic place, the image suddenly snapped into view, right before your eyes, in perfect clarity.

Example of a “magic eye” image

This strikes me as a metaphor for our quest for clarity in a world with too much information, a confusing array of truth, half-truth, and fiction, and a lot of static. Sometimes I feel as though the more stringently I pursue clarity, the more it eludes my grasp. And yet, intellectual and moral clarity are essential for us to act with integrity and efficacy in the world. These have nothing to do with physical sight, but everything to do with discernment and refinement – a simultaneous relaxing and sharpening of our inner senses that allow a clear sense of purpose and practice to come through. Much like the magic eye, finding clarity in our lives requires practice, as the world’s religious traditions have long taught in different ways.

This month, join us to explore how we cut past the static to find clarity of mind, heart and spirit.

See you in church! – Rev. Molly

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2017-18 Worship Theme

Weaving Resilient Community

It’s a new program year at the UU Church of Columbia – another year of exploration and growth and another year of courageous love. We know there are many challenges to our values in this time, as in every age. We wonder what it takes to live with love into a climate-changed world and a national narrative of division and fear.

So this year’s big, overarching question is this: What does it take to weave together a church and Columbia community that is resilient in the face of those challenges?

A strong weaving cannot be singular and homogenous – it must have threads stretching up and across and full of difference if it is to be resilient. Our monthly themes this year will be paired as complementary strands of warp and weft. We will be exploring:

  • Kinship & Difference
  • Struggle & Faithfulness
  • Clarity & Flexibility
  • Memory & Imagination
  • Celebration & Solitude
  • Resistance & Release.

We are looking forward to a deep and rich year together.

See you in church!
Rev. Molly

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