"I'm visiting for the first time. What can I expect?"
You walk into the church from Washington Street after a hearty Sunday
brunch. The first thing you notice is an odd and wonderful juxtaposition:
everything about the building you are in says “organized,” “staid,”
“well-behaved,” “frilly,” and yet the unmistakable rhythm of a drum set and the
thrum of an upright bass, speak of something wilder, more uncontainable and
mysterious. As you follow the sounds, you meet a smiling usher who hands you a
worship bulletin and guides you into the Guild room.
Several things strike you at once. The guild room emulates
the home of a beloved grandparent, with comfy stuffed couches and chairs, dark
wood trim, white walls, pictures of other beloved "family" members on the walls, with a fireplace and reading nook at one end - but the space has been subverted.
The rectangular, formal space is set up in the round, and you walk in on a
level with the band and the worship leaders—all of whom, incidentally, are dressed
pretty much as you are. The space is dim, lit almost as much by the many
candles as by the ornate chandeliers overhead.
You sit down at a card table, someone offers you coffee, and
worship begins. The service is structured and yet informal. As the group
progresses through ancient rhythms of prayer, teaching, and song, people move
about the room at will, getting up when moved to light a candle, or to refill
their coffee, tea, or hot coco.
The service is participatory: you are invited to call your
prayers out during prayer time, to talk back during the sermon (which more
readily resembles an interview), and to celebrate an Agape Feast together. The
old stories are made new through intimate, eclectic, full-body worship. The
music is a combination of jazzed-up church music and straight jazz
reinterpreted by its "churchy" context. After the service, the worshipers gather
for conversations with the musicians and the pastor or, for visitors, a tour of
the church. You head out relaxed, challenged, Spirit-filled, ready.
Sound like your Sunday cup of 'jo? Then come, let the
Wildvine musicians, Pastor Emilia and the Holy Spirit be your guides as you seek to
freshen a long-held faith or go deeper with a new one.
Upcoming Event: Join us for Jazz Sanctuary ONLINE at 1pm on Sunday, June 21st!
May Jazz Sanctuary on Youtube
Full Length Audio Recordings of Worship Services
First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ 177 North Main Street | Concord, NH | 03301 603.225.5491