“We get wise by asking questions, and even if these are not answered, we get wise, for a well-packed question carries its answer on its back as a snail carries its shell.”
Welcome! Making a visit to a church for the first time can be a little scary- but we think it doesn’t have to be and will do our best to welcome you. At BUCC, we try to live out the inclusive and extravagant welcome that we believe God offers to all.
What will I find when I arrive?
Walk through the front door on any Sunday of the year for our 10:00 am worship service and you will be greeted with smiles, a worship bulletin, and an invitation to find a seat- any seat, for we don’t reserve pews.
What will the service be like?
Thoughtful preaching, participatory liturgy, and a blend of new and traditional hymns are some of the elements you can expect to encounter at BUCC each Sunday. We keep time by the seasons of the church year as we tune our hearts, minds, and spirits to the ever-present love of God. The pastor, lay people and musicians share worship leadership.
In the bulletin you will find a basic outline of the worship service, with hymn titles, prayers, scripture reading, and more. A typical service begins with welcome and some singing and opening prayers. Next is the children's sermon, then scripture reading(s) and a sermon, typically about 15-20 minutes. The pastor works hard to provide a thoughtful reflection that helps you to apply the message to your own life and our modern context. Then we have a collection. We believe giving is a private spiritual discipline, so don't worry, no one is looking. We share our prayers- praying for the world around us and our culture as well as our own needs, asking God for help or offering thanks. We conclude with a short song and final blessing. The service consistently lasts an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes.
What should I wear to church?
Wear whatever you want. BUCC has no dress code. Most of us dress as we are comfortable. You’ll see a few people in dressy church clothing, but you’ll also see a lot of people in jeans and t-shirts. If you like to dress up for church, that is lovely also. Jesus didn’t dress up for church. He wore what he had. That’s what we do too. We’re a community of friends. Wear what makes you comfortable.
What if I am gay, lesbian, or transgender?
Welcome! God loves you, and we will too. And yes, we really do mean that.
What if I live with my significant other?
Great. Be kind to each other. And welcome.
What if I have kids with me?
Fantastic! Most Sundays, the pastor invites the children forward early in the service for a special children’s moment. Kids often bring a small donation to go into the kids’ bank for Heifer International. Then children are dismissed to go to Sunday School (ages 6-12) or child care (infants to age 6). Of course, kids of all ages can remain with their parents in worship, as your family prefers. You are also welcome to go to Sunday school or childcare with your kids the first time or two to help them feel comfortable. Our experience is that it often takes kids a few visits before they aren’t shy about participating in the children’s programming. That is okay.
And don’t feel your child must be absolutely quiet and still during church, for we are glad to have children as part of our community and worship life! There are always children’s activity bags available in the back pew, and we hope you’ll also begin helping your child join in with the various elements and rhythms of the worship service itself as they are able. There’s an old saying: “faith is caught, not taught!”
Once each month, we have an intergenerational service, where the children stay in church the whole time, though childcare is still available.
Sunday school will involve lessons, stories, and craft projects, plus a healthy snack.
On your first Sunday, please check in with the Sunday School teacher about your child(ren)- including allergies- and be sure that the teachers have your cell phone number.
Is there fellowship time after church?
After Sunday morning worship, we have coffee hour in our Fellowship Hall. We have Equal Exchange fair trade coffee and teas, plus punch and other goodies- cheese and crackers, cookies, fruits and veggies. We invite you to stick around for a snack or beverage, strike up a conversation, and make some new friends!
Do I have to check my brain at the door?
Please don’t! We believe that God gave us hearts and minds and wants us to use them both. We don’t offer simple answers to difficult questions, so if that’s what you are looking for, this might not be the church for you.
Our faith is over 2000 years old, but our thinking is not! Ours is a progressive theology, open to questions and doubts and characterized by intellectual curiosity about God’s world and God’s peoples. We take the Bible far too seriously to take it literally in all respects, and recognize that faith and reason are both gifts from God that aid us on this journey.
In the Bible, we find a story of Jesus’ ministry on earth that was profoundly countercultural, challenging the dominant powers and voices of his day. He preached and practiced a gospel of peace, reconciliation, and renewal. We recognize that as people who walk in the way of Jesus, we are called to speak to and into the culture, institutions, and laws of our own times, seeking justice and liberation for all.
Belief, as we understand it, is a way of living and trusting, rather than something imposed through adherence to a set of creeds or intellectual propositions. Faith is not a fixed end-point, but a process of journeying with God.
Tell me about communion at BUCC?
During his earthly ministry, Jesus shared meals not just with his followers, but also with sinners, the outcast, and many whom society deemed unacceptable. Jesus sat at many tables during his life and broke bread with many different people. Communion points especially to two of the tables at which Jesus sat: the table where the risen Christ was made known to two disciples on the road to Emmaus in the breaking of the bread; and the table of the last supper where before his death Jesus shared with his disciples bread and wine, speaking of these as his body and blood, and asked them- and us- to remember. We are always mindful that our table is really Jesus’ table, and his table was open to all.
We celebrate Communion on the first Sunday of each month, along with a couple of additional holy days. Current custom is to offer two chalices- one with wine and one with grape juice. A wheat-free, gluten-free alternative for bread is always available. The usher will bring forward several rows at a time to receive communion in the front via “intinction”, dipping the bread into the cup.
If I come, am I automatically a member? Will I be put on a committee?
You are automatically welcomed. We usually wait until your second visit to sign you up for a committee though.
Do I have to join or become a member of BUCC?
No, we have many beloved friends who regularly attend BUCC, and haven’t joined. Some will eventually, and others might not, and that’s okay.
So why would I become a member?
When you join, you become a voting member of the church. Members vote on the church’s budget each year, they vote on which of the members should serve as key leaders, and they even vote on whether or not to call a new pastor. These are some of the practical issues associated with being a member.
There are spiritual issues associated with being a member also. When you join, you make an important connection to the community. The Bible’s word for that is “covenant.” It’s a central idea in the UCC, a promise to and for each other. When you join, you make a covenant. That is meaningful.
In making this covenant together, you and current members promise to share in a common spiritual life, seeking to follow our still-speaking God and live out the gospel. It means that you take responsibility for the church, as the people of God. It doesn’t “belong” to the pastor or to the denomination. It belongs to you. Will you hold other people in prayer and in love? Will you contribute to the community by sharing your gifts?
You will make a difference, and BUCC will be different because you have joined it. As we grow and change together, in a community centered not on ourselves but on God, we create a culture of covenant, of community. This is what Jesus created, as he gathered people together. It doesn’t mean that we think or believe the same things all the time. It means we are committed to this church home- for church means people.
We get that commitment is hard, and can be scary. You aren’t necessarily promising to stay forever and ever. When you join, you tell the community, “I’m in,” “this is my spiritual home”, and the community promises to support you on your journey together- to care for you, show up for you, challenge you, be accountable to you, and help you to be your best self.
Okay, so how do I join or become a member?
Talk to the Pastor about scheduling a membership meeting with her (to discuss who we are, what it means to be a member, and to talk about any questions you might have). Then at church on a Sunday, the pastor will ask you some questions, all shared ahead of time- no surprises, ask you to make some promises to the congregation and the congregation to make some promises to you, and we make it official. Then there’s applause and maybe cake.
Why does the pastor sometimes say “She” when talking about God?
Using masculine pronouns to talk about God is a matter of convention. The English language doesn’t offer alternatives. But God is not male or female. God is both, and God is so much more. The pastor sometimes refers to Mama God because we’ve been so acculturated to hear God, He that we imagine God as a man (usually an old white man), that the sound of the feminine pronoun pushes us to think outside our little God boxes. God doesn’t fit in a box either.
What do you believe about science and evolution?
We like them ( though the pastor admits that science was not her favorite class in school). God and evolution are not incompatible.
What do you believe about the Bible?
The Bible is not a rule book. It is an ancient, massive book of poetry, songs, visions, histories, laws, parables, and more. It was written over thousands of years by multiple authors with multiple perspectives. It is a story of relationship with God. We take it too seriously to take it literally, so as we try to gain insight and wisdom, we read it contextually- with an eye to the history and how the Bible relates within itself. It makes us angry, incredulous, inspired, and confused. We seek always within it the spirit of Jesus, so we prioritize love of God and neighbor over any Biblical Law that in word or practice or spirit violates his commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves. The Bible shows us that even the devil could quote scripture out of context.
What do you think about God and Jesus?
Most BUCC members believe in God. We are all impressed with Jesus’ life and teaching. We don’t know exactly how God and Jesus are related (no one does), but we really enjoy wondering about that.
All this, and we’ve only just started talking about our wonderful little progressive country church! If you’re wondering what you believe; if you want to be with other people similarly curious; if you admire the example of Jesus; if you want community; if you want good music, if you want people trying to be honest and kind, if you want to go to a welcoming progressive church, come check out BUCC.