It’s hard to believe that only a month has passed since UCE added a second service on Sunday morning. From my perspective it’s been a smooth transition, and I’ve gotten feedback that members are enjoying their church experience and are satisfied overall with the change.
There have been some surprises. One concern of mine was that the first service might not be well attended at first, and that it would feel empty. I’ve learned that “well attended” is subjective. While the 60 or so people who have regularly attended the first service certainly haven’t filled the room, a number of them have reported that the service has been special to them in other ways. First, that there is a sense of intimacy they didn’t expect. In a church our size, that feeling of closeness is something that is often lost. I’m glad that we’re able to capture that feeling for our early morning attendees. Second, several families have shared that they were able to attend church despite obligations that usually would have prevented them from coming. Third, more than a few Sunday School teachers have shared their gratitude for being able to serve in our religious education program and attend worship on the same Sunday.
The surprise of the second service is that it feels, for me, like nothing has changed whatsoever. The seats are full. The choir wows us with their beautiful music. There is energy and vitality before and after the service as members, friends, and visitors gather into beloved community — expectant and ready to be transformed by our communal experience.
In all, I complete this January with a sense of gratitude for this successful transition, but more, for your open hearts as we faced change together. There were questions, concerns, deep feelings and doubts — and throughout all of it we stuck together knowing that we all love this place and its work for a better world. We put our values of encouragement to spiritual growth and affirmation of the common good to the test. It’s good to know what we can do when we are curious, flexible, and focused.