Fall Worship Schedule
Why are we continuing with one worship service? There are three main reasons.
1) The pandemic has crystalized a deep sense of longing amongst covenant partners for meaningful connections and relationships within our church. This is a longing that existed well before COVID. But COVID certainly hasn't helped us connect and relate, and has even made the problem worse. So, church leadership believes it's vitally important to cultivate opportunities for connecting and relating. Doing one worship service in the fall makes more space for that aren't trying to sandwich discipleship and community time into very short time slots between two worship services.
2) In August, the Session approved a new strategic plan that will guide our big picture decisions as we move forward. The overarching goal of this strategic plan is the concept of “belonging to God and one another.” In an effort to cultivate authentic belonging to God and to one another, a task force has been charged with reimagining and casting new vision for the way Sunday mornings at First Pres enable congregants to experience God in worship, be equipped as followers of Jesus, and engage in missional living. We anticipate that this task force may recommend some changes to our Sunday morning rhythm, focus, and structure. Thus, we want to avoid introducing a fall schedule that is different from what we’ve done this summer, and that may also change again as we discern the Lord’s leading as a part of this new strategic plan.
3) Our current attendance doesn’t warrant a return to two services.
Why are we rotating venues and including different styles and expressions in the one worship service?
We believe that God loves and is honored by a diversity of different styles, expressions, languages, and people, as reflected in the vision of the heavenly throne in Revelation 4 and 5 in which every tribe and tongue of people throughout all the earth and throughout all history together worship at the throne of God. We long for our worship to reflect this unity-in-diversity as we seek to love, honor, and enjoy God with all our heart, soul, body, mind and strength.
Many of us at First Pres have deep affection for a particular worship venue or worship style. These preferences are natural, and the desire to worship in our own “native heart language” isn’t bad! But we as a congregation have an opportunity to grow by learning to focus our attention more on the God we are worshipping rather than on our preferences. We are invited to respond to the summons of Hebrews by “fixing our eyes on Jesus,” instead of fixing our eyes narrowly on the preferences that divide our congregation.
God’s story can be told, God’s salvation can be proclaimed, God’s love can be experienced, the Spirit’s comfort can be felt, and Jesus can be welcomed as Savior and as the One directing our worship whether our prayers are spontaneous or scripted, whether music is led by guitar or organ, whether songs contain the theological robustness of hymns or the reflective simplicity or passion of some modern songs. Diverse musical and stylistic expressions are like color fragments in the great kaleidoscope of worship, pointing together toward the big picture which is the God we are worshipping.
God’s story can be told in both the Sanctuary and the Worship Center. In fact, in their own ways, both of these spaces uniquely help draw us into God’s presence and God’s story. The Sanctuary is full of natural light and color, and it reminds us of God’s grandeur and glory. The Worship Center, with its flexible lighting, enables low-light settings that can create intimate space for individual reflection and prayer. The technological abilities in the Worship Center also enable creativity and artistry on visual levels that are hard to replicate in the Sanctuary. The sound of voices raised in song in the Sanctuary reverberates beautifully in collective praise to God, whereas the driving beats of drums and synth in the Worship Center remind us of the power and energy of God. Each space is beautiful and important in its own way. Rotating venues is a physical reminder that our God is a big God who goes beyond our expectations and who doesn’t fit into the box we often try to put Him in.
As we alternate between our two worship venues, and as we tell God’s story using all sorts of styles and expressions, it is the hope of church leadership that we learn to value and embrace worship expressions that are different from our own preferences, first because they reflect the diversity of God’s kingdom, and secondly because doing so enables us to love and celebrate our brothers and sisters who have preferences different than our own.