Sun 19 Feb 2006
For my first visit to a religious site, I went to the Unitarian Univesalists Church of the Cumberland County. I visited the church with a group of other students from the class. The church was very different from what I expected. I grew up raised as a Methodist and attended the Methodist church in my town. I went to Sunday school until eighth grade when I attended confirmation and became an official part of the church. I went to the Unitarian Univesalists church expecting that it would be very different from the sermons in the Methodist church. Nevertheless, I was soon overwhelmed by the similarities between the two churches.
Generally I do not attend church that often. I always go on Christmas and Easter, but only sometimes go during the rest of the year. However, when I first entered the doors of the Unitarian Univesalists Church, I felt like it was very similar to the United Methodist Church. Before the sermon started, people gathered in a room and introduced themselves to me. They welcomed me and my other classmates and asked us to wear nametags like everyone else in the congregation. There were also posters explaining the goals of the church and what the church is actually about.
When the service started, it seemed both different and the same as the Methodist sermon. First of all, a minister led the congregation in both song and in the sermon. There were also basic elements that were the same. For example, the congregation rose to sing, the children were called upfront and led to a children’s session, there was an offering, and there was also a session where members of the congregation could share personal joys, sorrows, and life transitions. All of these would take place at the Methodist church. In fact, we would fill out prayer cards and a minister would then explain the situation and pray for whatever was written on the card.
There were also a few differences between the churches. To start, the front of the church had a sign that said it was a liberal church. Professor Cozort explained that this meant that the church celebrated different aspects of religions. For instance, sometimes a sermon would include teachings out of Hinduism or Judaism. It also meant that sermons were also related to certain holidays during the year. A sermon closer to Memorial Day would talk about death, while a sermon on Labor Day would be more concerned about work. During the sermon the day I visited on, the main topic was the power of one vote and women’s suffrage. It was different, because neither God nor Jesus was mentioned the entire sermon. There were also no prayers directed to God or Jesus and even the songs had something to do with women’s suffrage. The choir was not dressed in robes and even added in hand motions and gestures.
Overall, I felt welcomed into the Unitarian Univesalists Church of the Cumberland County. It seemed very much the same as the Methodist Church, but very different at the same time. There was a sense of unity among the congregation, and they did not turn away any new members. In fact they gave gift bags to any new members in attendance. Even though there was no mention of God during the sermon, it still felt religious because everyone in the congregation knew and cared about each other. There was a unity in the fact that any person in the congregation could chose what he or she wanted to believe. There was a lot of history of America involved in the sermon that was very different from what I expected of attending church. However, it was still an enjoyable and welcoming experience for me.