Sun 19 Feb 2006
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Today, I attended a service at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Cumberland Valley at 10:30. The subject of the service was “What is the value of one vote?” and was concerned with women’s suffrage. I did not know what to expect from Unitarian Universalism, but at first glance, the service appeared very similar to a Protestant service, with a similar structure, and even some similar songs in the hymnal. Among the congregation there seems to be a very strong bond. The church bears much resemblance to a Calvinist-style church, such as the churches of the United Methodist religion. There is a certain simplicity to the church, but the atmosphere is light and it is unlike the austere and spartan feel of many Protestant churches, and the atmosphere seems to carry much less gravity than that of a Catholic church and Mass.
As for the service itself, it is evident how much thought, planning, and research goes into the event. The Offertory, Prelude, Postlude, and the songs all serve to support and convey the central idea of the service. The sermon, although lacking what may traditionally be expected of a sermon, still allows for religious reflection to what ever degree the worshipper may wish. There is an open-mindedness that reminds me of the discussion groups promoted by many Christian churches. There was a great sense of unity and civic concern in the service, from the sermon to the energy with which the choir sang. In such an environment, even a civil war song and the American love song “Senandoah,” felt spiritual.
After the service, during coffee hour, there was a definite sense of community. Even though each person free to follow whatever they believe, there is a sense of community, civic responsibility, and love that binds the congregation together. The members were welcoming and open to talking about the church and the congregation.
As a United Methodist, I found many similarities between the service and a service in my own church. I noticed the same feel of concern for the world around us, that I feel in a United Methodist service. The idea of an entire service based around the history and ideals of women’s suffrage, although somewhat far from the religious overtones of a Methodist service, still seems familiar. Methodist services often have civic and social undertones.