New to Union Church? Thinking of coming to worship on Sunday, or to some other event? Well, whoever you are, wherever you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here. Here are some FAQs with answers that might make your time with us a little easier.
A. Everyone. Yes, everyone: young, old, married, single, struggling, thriving, gay, straight, people with any religious background, including Roman Catholic, doubting, trusting, families with young children, those of long life – yes, everyone.
Q. What is our Christian faith like?
A. Generous. Open. Connected to the history of the church, and relevant for today. Patient, because experiencing God’s grace can take time. Vibrant, because sometimes, in an instant, you just have to say, “Wow!” We believe that God delights in humanity and in each of us individually. We believe that Jesus of Nazareth made it possible for us to recognize and receive the wonderful grace of God. We are open to science. We don’t think people of other faiths are going to hell. We don’t think God punishes people (although God often does let us suffer the consequences of our own actions, right?). We don’t think anyone’s past has to determine what their future will be – God transforms! And by the way, we are part of the United Church of Christ, an often quirky, usually progressive, part of God’s big church. (For those who speak the lingo, we are a Congregational church in the Reformed part of the Protestant tradition.)
Q. What is worship like here?
A. We have two Sunday worship services each week. At 9:07 a.m. every Sunday is our Family Service, a 35-40 minute service specially geared for families with children age 11 and under. It meets in the Chapel. At 10:00 a.m. every Sunday in the main Sanctuary we have a worship service for the whole congregation, celebrating God’s love and learning what it means to be faithful followers of Jesus. In all of our worship services we sing, pray, learn from the Bible, receive forgiveness and share forgiveness with each other. We offer our lives to God so that God can use us to do God’s wonderful work in the world. All of our services are grounded in Christian tradition, yet are not terribly formal. If you visit, we should give you a warm welcome, but we won’t draw attention to you. We work to make our worship comfortable for people with many years of church participation as well as for those who are giving church a try for the first time. The important thing is that God loves you, so come say “thanks!”
Q. What is our music like?
A. At the 9:07 service, music will be led by piano and easy to sing, so that the children can participate joyfully. At 10:00, on any given Sunday the music may be led by the organ, or by guitars and keyboards, or by the plain human voice. Songs might have been written in the last week by our music people, or 300 years ago by Bach. Yes, it’s a little eclectic.
Q. Are children welcome in worship?
A. Children of any age are always welcome in worship. The 9:07 service is focused on kids and families, but kids are welcome at the 10:00 service also (if they prefer worship to Sunday School, which is also offered at 10:00). It is okay if they move and make a little noise!
Q. What else is happening for children at Union Church?
A. We have Sunday School for children of all ages. Sunday School is built on a fun environment that helps kids grow in faith, knowledge and service. Kids gather for Sunday School at 10:00 (in the Lounge – just ask someone when you come into the building). We also Children’s Chimes on Sunday (contact Stephen Edwards at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information), and other programs and activities for kids (contact Penny Johnson at email@example.com for more information).
Q. Where is our church building?
A. 137 S. Garfield, in Hinsdale. Depending on how you like your directions, that’s the corner of Third and Garfield, ½ block south of Dips and Dogs, 1 ½ blocks south of Corner Bakery, or right across the street to the east from Hinsdale Middle School. Here’s a link to a map: https://goo.gl/maps/FPrp7g8byC72
Q. Where can you park?
A. There are a couple of visitor spots on the right hand side as you come in the entrance off Third Street, but you can also park in any of our lots (three sides of the building), on the street nearby, or in the lots next to the middle school.
Q. What can you expect when you walk in the door?
A. There will likely be someone there to greet you and answer any immediate questions you have. If you want to keep a low profile, just head on in to the chapel (for the 9:07 service) or the sanctuary (for the 10:00 service). An usher will welcome you and give you a “worship order” for the day – a printed sheet that tells you what is coming up, and gives you the words to prayers and things, so you can actively participate in the service. You can sit anywhere, although, honestly, if you are in the middle, you’ll look less like a visitor!
Q. What can you expect when the worship service begins?
A. Folks tend to greet each other before the service, so there is a good deal of noise and activity. Then one of the pastors will welcome people and encourage a time of quiet preparation for worship. We see this as a transition time, a time to pause and do our best to open ourselves to the presence of God, and to move into a spirit of gratitude for the love of God.
Q. What else will happen in worship?
A. Well, worship is all about conveying to God our amazement and gratitude for God’s steadfast love, and reveling in our connection to our gracious God. Therefore, we sing and pray and welcome the good news of God’s forgiveness. Worship is also about allowing ourselves to be formed into the people God would have us be (the greatest form of praise), so we learn from the Bible, and through a sermon we explore faith that matters today. If you don’t quite follow what is happening, no worries. We were all there at some point. Feel free to ask questions, “fake it ‘til you make it,” or just shake your head in wonder.
Q. What will happen after worship?
A. Many people gather for coffee and casual conversation in our Gathering Place, just outside the sanctuary. We would love to have you join in, and perhaps meet some new people – people you may, before long, be calling friends.
Q. What is the procedure for becoming an official member of the church?
A. You are welcome to participate in the full life of the congregation before becoming an official member. Becoming a church member is meaningful in at least three ways. First, you make a public commitment that you will live your life for Christ, relying on the grace of God. Second, you commit yourself to this particular gathering of God’s people, and to supporting, with prayer, action, and your resources, the ministry and mission we do together. Third (and most radically in the context of modern American society), you agree to open your life and faith to others – you acknowledge that God works in us, in significant part, through our relationships with fellow followers of Christ. In short, you need others to live this faith, and they need you.
More practically, we have “new members’ classes” about three times a year. They are usually two sessions of about 1 1/2 hours, with the particular dates and times announced in church communications. If you are interested in becoming a member, feel free to talk with any of the staff you see in worship or at church events, or contact Pastor Bromleigh McCleneghan (630.323.4303, firstname.lastname@example.org).
Q. Other questions?
A. If you have any other questions, please feel free to call or email us. Just call the church office (630.323.4303) or email Melanie Burton at email@example.com. Also, feel free to talk with Pastor Mike Solberg (630.590.6695, firstname.lastname@example.org) or Pastor Bromleigh McCleneghan (630.323.4303, email@example.com).