People have lots of reasons for considering a church. Some are longtime churchgoers new to town and looking for a faith community. Some want a spiritual grounding for their kids. Some are exploring the idea of faith — or the idea of community with people who care about something larger than themselves. Some are looking for a more open and inclusive expression of Christianity. Whatever your reason, you’re welcome here.
Come for the community
Generally speaking, church people are nice people — or at least they’re trying to be. At Holy Covenant, our folks value the relationships they find and develop here. And when we meet visitors, we quickly welcome them into our family. Our church claims about 300 members, and we see about half that number most Sundays — just the right size to get to know people and make meaningful connections.
Come for the music
We love music. Some of us love classic church hymns, some prefer contemporary choruses. Some like the solos and duets, some enjoy hearing the choir. So we offer a bit of everything in most of our services. Holy Covenant is blessed with wonderful musicians who sing, who play harp and guitar and violin and bass and trumpet and cello and drums and clarinet and French horn… You get the idea. Under the direction of our multi-talented Music Director, our Music Cooperative enriches our services and helps to create a truly sacred experience.
Come as you are
Back in the day, people wore their Sunday Best to church — but times have changed. At Holy Covenant, we have no expectations for attire. Many adults opt for business casual — but you’ll see everything from blue jeans to suits. Kids and teens generally dress as they would for school. In short, what you’re wearing isn’t important. You are.
Come with any ability
We’re accessible. From the handicapped parking spaces and wide zero-step building entry, to the large-print bulletins and audio amplification devices — we seek to ensure a warm welcome for people of every ability. Naturally, our restrooms are accessible and service animals are welcome. If you or your children have special needs, please let us know so we can make your visit as comfortable as possible.
Come with the kids
At Holy Covenant, we love children — and they’re welcome to remain at your side in our services, even if they’re a little squiggly. Early in the worship service, we offer a Children’s Sermon, after which children eight and under have the option to leave the service with a trained teacher/caregiver for fun stories and age-appropriate activities. When the service ends, you can collect your children from the Sunday School wing. For babies and toddlers, we offer a staffed nursery during Sunday School and worship. And speaking of kids, you might enjoy this article from The Washington Post —
Come on your way to IKEA
Harris Boulevard lies just one exit north of the IKEA exit on I-85. Enjoy a relaxed morning, join us for an hour, then head just down the road for an afternoon in the Swedish wonderland. You’ll arrive right in time for a Swedish meatball lunch!
Come — even if you find church mystifying
People familiar with church sometimes forget that church traditions can be confusing for those new to church. Or even to those new to a different form of church. So to make your visit more comfortable here’s a short list (in alphabetical order) of words, concepts and practices you might encounter at Holy Covenant —
- COMMUNION (aka The Lord’s Supper, Eucharist)
On the first Sunday of each month, we celebrate Communion. According to tradition, as Jesus’ Last Supper with his disciples drew to a close, Jesus handed out some of the bread and wine to those gathered and asked them to remember him whenever they shared this “meal.” We repeat this ritual with bread and grape juice, inviting all who are able to come forward, accept a piece of bread, dip the bread in the cup, then consume the dampened bread. As you accept each element (the bread, the juice), the person holding the element (known as a celebrant) will speak a short phrase to remind you of the meaning of the element — something like The Bread of Life or The Cup of the New Covenant. The words vary, but you’re invited to say, Amen after each phrase is spoken to you, signifying your acceptance of God’s love symbolized by this service. Because we believe that all are welcome at Jesus’ table, we invite everyone present — guests, children, questioners, everyone! — to participate in Communion. If you’re unable to walk forward, feel free to remain seated; once those who have gone forward are returning to their seats, just raise your hand and our celebrants will bring Communion to you.
- FRIENDSHIP BOOK
Well, it’s not really a book — it’s a little folder where you write in your name and contact information. You’re not required to provide your information, but we would love to know you’ve visited.
- GATHERING ROOM
The first big room you come to when you enter Holy Covenant is a large multi-purpose room with seating areas, coffee, and lots of space to gather. The atmosphere here is pretty active, with people greeting each other, organizing their children, and sometimes setting up after-church events. In the gathering room, you can catch your breath before you enter the relative stillness of the Sanctuary where the service is held.
- HYMN & HYMNALS
What would church be without music?! The traditional music of church is the hymn — a religious song with several verses (aka stanzas), often written a long time ago. Several hundred hymns are bound together in the hymnal, which at Holy Covenant includes updated language and songs from modern composers and even other cultures.
- INCLUSIVE LANGUAGE
In the United Church of Christ, we believe God to be non-gendered: both (and neither) male and female, Mother & Father, He & She. More often that not, we avoid pronouns (like He) and just say God. Most of our songs use non-gendered (inclusive) language for God, and we use phrases like Creator, Christ & Spirit instead of the traditional Father, Son & Holy Spirit. If you look closely, you might see people saying the words they prefer regardless of what’s printed in the hymnal or worship program.
After the sermon, the ushers will pass offering plates down each row of people in the church. You are welcome to add a gift to the plate when it comes your way, or to simply pass the plate along. Theologically, an offering is a gift of thanks back to God — and the church uses the offering to continue its work in the community.
- PASSING THE PEACE
In some services, we invite participants to “pass the peace” — extend a hand of welcome to those around you. The traditional greeting for this moment: the peace of Christ/God be with you. But you’re welcome to say peace be with you, just peace, or even hello if you prefer.
Our primary worship space, with movable padded benches arranged in an arc facing the altar and the pulpit. Sit anywhere you’d like and enjoy the quiet and peace.
- SITTING & STANDING
We do both, and the printed worship program will indicate the standing parts with an asterisk — typically for the opening, for singing, and for the reading of Bible passages from the Gospels (the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John). That said, feel free to remain seated if you’re uncomfortable standing.
This is what we call the Sunday morning service — but we also believe that worship or honoring God can be done in hundreds of ways, both in and outside of the church building.