What to Expect
Even though Eldorado Universalist Churhc has a venerable history, it can hardly be said to be "stuffy" nowadays. A tradition of dressing up in your "Sunday go meeting clothes" and your "best bib and tucker" has gradually disappeared. Casual confortable seems to be the norm for attire these days in most churches as it is here with friendly accommodation for better dress if one is so inclined.
Depending on your choice of entry (steps with railing to front door) or side door (handicap accessible ramp), there will be a table in view with copies of the day’s program bulletin which indicates the ORDER OF SERVICE. Visitors and members are encouraged to take a program bulletin upon arrival. At some point, upon arrival or shortly thereafter, someone from the church will introduce themselves to first time visitors. A coat rack will be found at the rear of the church behind the last pew for those wishing to hang up coats and other outdoor gear during cold and inclement weather days.
Worship services begin at 10.30 a.m. Prior to the start of the service though there is usually some gathering music to allow folks to settle in to the location and the moment. Our minister, sometimes a guest minister or speaker, or even a member serving as a worship service leader will open the service with a friendly WELCOME to members and guests. Any ANNOUNCEMENTS of import will be shared by and with the congregation at that time. Announcements might mean an update on events that have occurred or are about to happen, reminders pertaining to the church calendar, or other items of general congregational interest.
The PRELUDE is the first musical selection for the morning and tries to set the tone for the sermon to follow wherever possible. In most but not all cases, the opening selection is tied in to the sermon topic. Typically, music for the service is instrumental in nature such as that by piano, keyboard, violin or guitar. Or, perhaps it might be some other instrument of the musician’s choice.
Next, in the Order of Service is an INVOCATION presented by the service leader or speaker.
The congregation is then asked to join in unison with the reading of the CHALICE LIGHTING which for the longest while has been:
May the light that we now kindle
Inspire us to use our powers
to heal and not to harm,
to help and not to hinder,
to bless and not to curse,
to serve you Spirit of freedom.
As one is physically able, the congregation then rises for the first HYMN of the service which for the most part will be found in the UUA hymnal "Singing the Living Tradition". If the hymn is drawn from another source, an insert with lyrics and/or musical staff will be inserted into the program.
While standing, the audience then reads together the AFFIRMATION which is found in the program as well as on one of the wall hangings at the front of the church:
Love is the doctrine of this church,
The quest for truth is its prayer,
To dwell together in peace,
To seek knowledge in freedom,
To serve human need,
To the end that all souls shall grow into harmony with the Divine.
Thus do we covenant with each other and with God.
The audience then retakes their seats on the cushioned pews. What follows next is JOYS AND CONCERNS. A member with a hand held microphone will walk around the church to audience members who have indicated by raised hands that they wish to share a Joy or Concern. When that issue has been shared, the person leading this portion of the service will restate the joy or concern and then "light" a candle at the front in acknowledgment. Accommodation has been made to modern times with small battery powered candles for this part of the service. When Joys and Concerns have been shared, one last candle is "lit" for all the joys and concerns that are unspoken but remain within our hearts.
The OFFERTORY follows and may be introduced by the minister or guest speaker in any number of ways. While users pass among the congregation with the Offertory plates, a musical selection will be offered.
One can visit any number of Unitarian Universalist churches throughout the country and find that the Order of Service is generally uniform with allowance for special touches or innovations provided by the host church. The SERMON is the touchstone of the service providing all an opportunity to reflect on issues that are theological or secular depending on the emphasis of both the congregation and the minister. Eldorado Universalist Church provides a fairly broad spectrum of sermon topics dealing with interpretation and amplification of passages, parable and stories from Scripture as well as examination of contemporary issues that impact not only the congregation but the community and the nation.
When the speaker has concluded his or her talk, time is provided for CONGREGATIONAL RESPONSE. It is during this time that audience members may share their experience of the speaker’s talk through general remarks or personal experiences which seek to interpret the sermon in their own minds. Again, all comments are able to be heard by the audience with the use of the hand held microphone.
With the world’s issues firmly resolved for the moment, a closing HYMN is sung, followed by a BENEDICTION, the EXTINGUISHING OF THE CHALICE candle, and a final musical selection for the morning, the POSTLUDE. With the service concluded, those in attendance might choose to chat in place with others nearby or make their way to the Social Room where refreshments and coffee are served during a time of FELLOWSHIP.There is always an ample amount of seating to be found on the comfortable furniture for holding conversation. Some however choose to stand and talk. Visitors are encouraged to join in this fellowship at the end of the service as this is an excellent opportunity to meet the members of the church, ask questions, continue conversation on the day’s sermon, and just "soak up the vibes".
RESTROOMS are located in the basement by way of a short flight of stairs at the rear corner of the church. For those who are "stair challenged" access to the restrooms can be had through the side entrance door a short ways from the front door. The basement has an enviable full service kitchen which has figured for eons it seems in the various dinners that the church hosts throughout the year. It is also where the children meet for their activities once they exit the service during Offertory.
For those who would like to take home literature pertaining to Unitarian Universalism, there are literature racks at the rear of the worship room which contain UUA brochures on a variety of topics designed to inform and pique your interest on the role that denominational UU churches provide today.
The Eldorado Universalist Church extends a very warm welcome to those considering visiting a church of this denomination. Please come with expectations and learn more about the UU faith tradition. Or just come because you’re curious. We look forward to meeting you!
FELLOWSHIP HOUR in the Social Room