The highpoint of each week at the Congregational Church of La Jolla occurs at 10:30 A.M. on Sunday when we gather for Lord’s Day worship. All are welcome to attend any service held in our church: We do not require that you be a member or even that you be a Christian. Though you’ll be greeted and invited to coffee afterwards, you won’t be embarrassed or singled out during the service. There is no dress code. While some wear their “Sunday Best” to church, others wear T-shirts (La Jolla is a beach community, after all).
Our worship is dignified and simple and follows a program we call a bulletin. We tend to use the same order from week to week, with some things remaining the same, and most others changing. For example, we always pray the Lord’s Prayer, and sing the Gloria Patri and a Doxology, but the Bible readings and hymns are different each Sunday.
Because the Word is central to churches in our tradition, the Sunday sermon is very important. The pastor prepares it very carefully through reading, prayer, meditation, and research, and the result is not only a message preached from the pulpit, but a manuscript that each worshiper can take home for further study. Questions about the sermon are always welcome, and total agreement is not one of our expectations.
On the first Sunday of each month, the emphasis shifts to an act we call the Lord’s Supper, or Holy Communion. In this act, we remember that, on the night before his death, Jesus shared bread and wine with his disciples, telling them to eat and drink in remembrance of him. The communion liturgy (prayers, responses, etc.) we use varies from month to month, and is borrowed from different traditions, countries and languages. Before eating and drinking, the pastor always makes it clear that everyone is welcome at the Lord’s table. The bread is baked in the kitchen of one of our church members, and the cups are filled with grape juice (because some are unable to drink wine, it is important to us that we all drink the same thing). Persons participating in the Lord’s Supper remain seated and are served by a church deacon. We eat and drink together as an expression of our unity in Christ.
Occasionally we celebrate another holy action in our worship, and that is the welcoming of a new member of God’s family through holy baptism. This can occur at any age (from infancy through old age), and occurs only once in the life of the individual. In the case of young children, we do not require that parents be members of our congregation, but we do ask that they be able to affirm our church covenant. Because baptism is a covenantal act, we do generally require that it happen during the church’s principle worship service. When becoming a member of our church, we joyously recognize baptisms that have occurred in other churches. Though we recognize different modes, in our church we sprinkle water three times on the head.
In addition to our weekly Lord’s Day service, we also hold services on special days, such as on Christmas Eve and during Holy Week (the week leading up to Easter Sunday).
If you have any questions about worshiping at our church, don’t hesitate to contact the pastor or the church office. As we say in the UCC: No matter who you are, or where you are on life’s journey, you’re welcome here.