Woodville and Peniel United Churches are friendly, welcoming people. Really!!
When you decide you want to come to church, we will make sure there is a place for you. There is no dress code; please come and be comfortable.
When you first get here
When you arrive at the church you will have to go *upstairs for the service (there is a lift at Woodville if you need a little extra help, and a chair lift at Peniel.) When you come into the sanctuary, you may think the front seats are reserved because everybody is sitting at the back. That is actually not the case. People are a little shy about sitting at the front, but you will score major brownie points with the minister and other worship leaders if you choose a seat further up.
At Woodville you will be greeted by someone very friendly. This is a different person each week, but they will welcome you and give you a bulletin (like a program) with the order of service and announcements. Our service is also projected on the wall though – all our prayers, words to songs, sometimes videos and other images.
How long will it last?
Plan to be at church for at least an hour. We don’t sit for the whole hour – we stand up to sing four or five times, and often we serve coffee and goodies during the service. On the days we serve refreshments, please feel comfortable getting up whenever you need to refill your coffee or tea, or simply to stretch.
We start our services with announcements, and then we have an opening that we call “Call to worship.” This is a bit like the huddle before a football game except we stay in our seats. Usually we stand up to sing, but if you don’t feel like standing you don’t have to! We sing from a hymn book called Voices United. You can read the songs in the hymn book with the musical notes, or you can simply look at the front wall where we project the words.
Are my children welcome?
Early in the service we have a “Time of sharing”, where the minister talks about the theme of the day with the children. If there are no children there, she still talks about the theme of the day as though there were children. It’s a more informal, interactive moment in the service and probably will appeal to those of you who learn better by doing, rather than having someone talk at you.
If you have children, or you are a kid, Woodville has activities related to the theme that children can do in their pews, or at a small table at the back. Children are welcome to stay during the service with their parents. Peniel does not have a Sunday School program at this time. We do not have a nursery at either church, but we also love having babies in worship, so it works well.
What kind of music do you have?
Cheryl Standon plays the piano for us each Sunday. We usually like to have some extra music as well, where our choir will sing, soloists will bless us with their musical talent or our youth band plays. Do you have a gift here to share? Let us know!!
We read parts of the Bible. Usually we have one reading from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament, as well as a Psalm that relates to one of the readings. Psalms are really songs, but we don’t sing them. Not sure why – we should! But usually we sing one line in response to the readings, which is cool too.
What is a sermon, and do I have to be quiet?
Then we get to the sermon. This is the part that the minister spends hours and hours writing as she tries really hard to tie in what is going on in our communities and personal lives, with what God is calling us to do. Sometimes we really need to be reminded that God is always doing wonderful things for us… What you hear in the sermon is the minister’s opinion. Sometimes she will ask you questions, and it really is OK to speak out and answer! Don’t be shy! you can ask questions of your own too – if we don’t have time to go into it all, we can talk after, or we can make room for that discussion another Sunday. Traditionally people did not speak in church, and there are many people who are still more comfortable sitting quietly and listening, saving their reflections and discussions for later. That is more than OK!
Often there is a time of silence or meditation worked into the service. The hope is that you can pray, process, and ask for the Spirit to guide you in a new way. It’s also a time you can close your eyes and nap if you didn’t get much sleep the night before… but we really hope you will be engaged, and discover what a fabulous opportunity it is to pray with a large group of people. Even silence with a large group of people is very moving, and not something we experience a lot in our culture!
How much does it cost?
After the sermon we will sing another song, and then it comes time for the offering. OK it’s always a little awkward to talk about money, but we really need to: we use the word offering on purpose – you make the offering if you can, if you want to, if you feel called to. We don’t demand it. While we depend on the weekly offering to offset the operating costs of being a community institution, we also do not want people to feel they must give money if they simply cannot afford it.
After the offering we have the prayers of the people. Before the prayers, the minister will ask if there are any concerns or joys that anyone would like to share. If there is something that you want people to pray for, please feel comfortable speaking that out loud. If you are not comfortable, you can speak to the minister ahead of time, or simply pray quietly to yourself and God will still hear.
What is the Lord’s Prayer?
At the end of the prayers of the people we say the Lord’s Prayer. The words are on the wall if you are not sure how it goes. This is the version we say:
Our father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come thy will be done on Earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, Forever and ever. Amen. †
After the prayers we sing a quiet little song that helps us to gather our thoughts again, and then we sing our final hymn or song.
After that we send you out with another huddle-type piece called “Sending forth”.
When you leave, our prayer is that you will feel blessed, beloved, that you will know you are a child of God and gifted beyond your imagining.
*From January until Easter, Peniel folks worship downstairs because it is easier to heat the smaller space. Makes for really cozy gatherings!
In July and August, Woodville, Peniel and Trinity United from Cannington worship together. We spend three weeks at one church, then move to the other churches. We will post a special schedule for summer services, and for any other services that vary from our routine.