Are you considering checking us out for the first time?
We know it can be a bit scary to come into a new community, so we wrote this to let you know that we are hoping you will visit and, if you like what you find, stay awhile.
Here is a bit of what you can expect:
We meet in a beautiful (temperature-controlled) space in a newly renovated synagogue that belongs to Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, which is a welcoming congregation for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. Because they have thought so carefully through the architecture and hospitality of the space, we are happy to say we have gender neutral bathrooms.
One of our community members will greet you at the front door and invite you to go downstairs, using the stairs or elevator. Before our service begins, we gather in the welcome area for chocolate, fruit, seltzer, and a time to greet each other. We provide coloring books for artists of all ages who want to color over conversation.
We then move to the worship area, where the service begins in song. After this our pastor welcomes us and makes announcements, we take a piece of paper and write something we need to let go of to be present in the space — “anxiety about work,” “yesterday’s phone call” — and put that in the offering basket. Musicians play as we do this, helping us enter into a more meditative frame of mind. We then sing again. All of our songs are led responsively so all can participate.
If you arrive after 7pm, a member of the synagogue staff will let you in (press Administrative Office buzzer), and then come on downstairs to the Kuriel Chapel. The door will be closed to remove the noise distraction of the common area, but please open the door and come in anyway. You will be welcomed! Being on time is not a requirement.
Readings and Sermon
Our musicians lead us into a creative exploration of a Bible reading. Our pastor preaches a short sermon, or reflection, and then she invites responses from the community. You can respond, or not; it is up to you. After this, we listen to music led by our musicians and enter into a time offering financial gifts and prayers.
Offering and Community Prayers
For the financial part of the offering we accept money through credit cards, checks or cash. Again, there is no pressure to give; it is up to you. Then a community member invites us to offer prayers, and we spend several minutes speaking prayers into the circle and sitting in silence.
We then celebrate the Eucharist, which simply means “thanksgiving.” You might have heard of it as Holy Communion or The Lord’s Supper. This part of the gathering is sung, using the same words each time. The music, though is improvised and therefore a little different each gathering. The bread we use is homemade gluten-free banana bread (and it is delicious!) and the juice we drink is homemade Concord grape juice canned by the community each year. The community comes up to take a chunk of the bread and then dip it into the cup with the juice, and then our musicians are served. Truly all are welcome, no matter your belief, questions or non-belief.
At the end we pass the peace, often through hugs and greetings. And then, we clean up together.
We hope this will help you feel more at ease when you join us. If you have any questions ahead of time, or just to let us know you are coming, contact Mieke, our pastor.