Worship at Neshoba
At Neshoba Unitarian Universalist Church, the goal of our worship services is to help both members and seekers to:
- Love their neighbors,
- Keep an open mind, and
- Make the world a better place.
Neshoba is committed to the spiritual growth and development of its membership. Because worship is the most central and public activity engaged in by our congregation, it should help members grow and learn.
Spiritually vital worship strengthens congregational life. Each worship service should remind participants of the Unitarian Universalist (UU) message of love and acceptance.
Worship is designed for those who hunger for something more in this lifetime. It should speak right to the deepest places of the human spirit and make room for the experience of mystery. At Neshoba we strive to make our worship services touch both our hearts and minds.
We believe worship should be practical and address issues that are relevant to members and the surrounding community. Worship should:
- Help lay people discover their gifts and live out their ministries in the church's ministries and in their daily lives. Therefore there should often be a strong charismatic lay presence in the service.
- Be a source of religious education for both adults and young people: there should be regular and high quality intergenerational elements to worship.
- Educate worshipers about UUA and UUSC history and current issues of importance like social ministries, advocacy or service.
- Be inclusive – esp. in language - and appeal to diverse populations within the community.
- Promote small groups that are a source of pastoral care, religious education, membership assimilation, and leadership development.
- Be – when appropriate - a call to action to anti-racism, anti-oppression and to being a Welcoming Congregation.
- Emphasize live music that is both excellent and eclectic in style and genre.
- Be marked by reverence, awe, celebration and joy. It’s OK to have fun. Applause is welcomed if participants are moved by words or music. Worship at Neshoba is informal yet respectful.
- Feature “Milestones” – a special sharing time when candles are lit for important joys and concerns.
Neshoba maintains a relatively stable order of service with a significant repertoire of worship elements – including some elements that the congregation knows by heart. We use the UUA’s “Singing the Living Tradition” hymnal for songs and responsive readings.
A Collaborative Process
The Worship Committee works with the minister and other staff on both the content and process of worship. It’s a team approach. No one person can provide creativity, variety and freshness on a continuing basis: collaboration is necessary to ensure that the readings, music, and sermon all work together. The worship space can - and should - be creatively adapted to enhance the worship experience. Well done art, drama and dance can be effective worship elements. Worship should be intentionally coordinated with all the congregation's programs.
A Note on Sermons
We expect sermons that reflect a good measure of intellectual rigor. Most pulpit guests should be highly literate and have widely read the writings of prophetic women and men. It is important that sermons simultaneously appeal to divergent spiritual traditions and practices. If possible, the sermon's theme should be articulated in language, metaphors, and symbols that are pagan, and that are Judeo-Christian, and that are Buddhist, etc. It is also helpful when sermons highlight UU traditions and history. For many, if not most, of our new members, Neshoba is their first UU congregation. Brief UU history lessons are appreciated.
The Worship Calendar
The worship calendar at Neshoba respects the major Jewish and Christian holidays (including a candlelight Christmas Eve service) as well as the changing of the seasons (solstice celebrations). Our tradition includes two communion services: Flower Communion in the spring and a Water Communion in September (the water is distilled, and then used in baby dedication ceremonies).