WHO WE ARE
Have you ever walked away from a conversation with a Christian, or watched what Christians say and do in public to suppress others' rights and demean people who are different, and said, "I'm done! I've had it with Christianity!"?
So have we. And that's why we're here. We're a church trying to undo the church, to recover the church. To live and practice the Gospel.
We are a theologically progressive, liturgically traditional, extravagantly welcoming, inter-generationally affirming, and inclusive religious community. We choose to worship in a beautiful sanctuary with stained glass windows, and we use hymnals: we affirm the traditions of the church, but we are not exclusively tethered to them.
We're not for everyone. The mixture of traditional church structure with progressive, LGBTQ+ affirming values is unusual in our area. We might be for you.
We do not require our community members to sign a statement of faith, but to covenant on a faith journey with us. We acknowledge the historic creeds of the church as what they are, historic creeds, and we believe that the greatest works of the God of scripture are yet to come, that "God is still speaking," still speaking through the church.
So no matter who you are, or what you are, or where you've been on life's journey, you are welcome here!
This inclusive message is offensive to many. We preach an offensive faith: forward-moving, future-affirming, tradition-embracing, un-traditionally inclusive, unapologetically exorcising racism, homophobia, and systems of hate.
Our Prayer service is at 9:45 AM on Sundays (more info below).
Our Sunday worship service is at 10:30 AM year-round, we often start announcements at 10:25 AM. Childcare is always available.
Our Saturday evening service is held ten times per year (see below).
What to Expect at the 10:30 AM Worship Service
You should expect to be welcomed, valued, and respected. Some visitors what to not be noticed while they're checking us out, some really want to be announced that they are here, and we know that sometimes coming into a church for the first time or the first time in a while can be jarring, especially if you've been hurt or carry trauma.
Regardless, we look forward to meeting you and offering you hospitality.
Children are especially welcomed to worship and 4 times per year we have a messy church service primarily designed for children to learn and worship with adults. Children typically begin the church service with family or guardians and are then dismissed after a participatory activity; the children assist Pastor Chris in baptisms, healing services, and reconciliation rituals. Childcare is available beginning before the service.
What is the 9:45 AM Prayer Service?
Shortly stated, it's a time to connect, seek healing, and reflect.
This is a brand new ministry at St. Paul's, and it's still evolving, and would love to welcome newcomers. We gather in the "choir loft" area in the front of the sanctuary for prayer. On first and third Sundays, the service will be directed and lead by one of our leaders. Whenever there is a fifth Sunday, if you're able, bring a light dish for breakfast to share for a prayer breakfast in our multi-purpose room.
The prayer ministry maintains a method of sharing prayers in real-time electronically to each other during the week as an option for those who would like to participate in this way.
Saturday Worship: The Sacred/Profane Community
The Sacred/Profane Community is an experimental faith/post-faith community that meets once per month on a Saturday evening. It is something that has processed out of our summer Vacation Beer & Bible School, which is a Bible introduction experience for adults.
It is "contemporary" in that we discuss tough, complex issues in a deep way. It is "Biblical" in that it usually begins with the Bible before turning to a social problem or question for consideration.
It is not "contemporary worship" that has a band that plays 1980s praise choruses or cover songs. There are other churches and bars that do that quite well.
What we do, however, is learn and work through ideas and problems. From a theological point of view, we model and train Biblical hermeneutics, or interpretation. Many of the issues we discuss would be forbidden in most church settings and even in seminary classrooms.
Some of our themes include the following:
Perpetual Virginity and the Birth of Rape Culture
The Invention of Whiteness
Atheism for Lent?
The Descent into Hell
If a monthly church experience with open questioning appeals to you, then this is for you! If you are a happy member of another religious community but would like to go deeper, then this is for you! We serve beer, but you can bring your own beverage.
This community is for ages 21 and over, and paid child care is always provided.
Religious Education for Children and Adults
Teaching Children the faith is an important part of what we do in our community. Our Sunday School program includes paid staff, is in compliance with safe child policy (and state law), and focuses upon age-appropriate and developmentally-appropriate learning of the progressive Christian faith, with an emphasis upon lifelong faith development.
You will see inclusive images and symbols in our children's education spaces. This is intentional. Teaching tolerance and diversity is part of our ministry.
Most of our adult education opportunities outside of Sunday worship are short-term and can happen at different times. Some examples of recent adult education offerings:
Introduction to Spiritual Direction
Prayer Workshop based on the Iona Community
Advent reading group
Introduction to Islam
Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet
The death penalty
Study on gun violence
A Course in Miracles
Pastor Chris also offers Confirmation classes for teens and adults as needed or requested.
Emmanuel's Closet: Food and Clothing Pantry
Emmanuel's Closet is a community ministry shared and staffed by local churches of the Dallastown Ministerium, and is housed at St. Paul's UCC. The pantry is for residents of Dallastown and Red Lion School Districts, and is open Saturday mornings year-round (except on holiday weekends).
An Open and Affirming Congregation of the United Church of Christ
For more information about Open and Affirming congregations of the United Church of Christ, click here.
A QUICK LOOK
9:45 AM Prayer Service
10:30 AM Worship Service (announcements start at 10:25 AM)
During the church hour, we offer a nursery and Sunday School for toddlers to grade 6. A youth group is separately available for teens grade 6 and up.
11:30 AM Fellowship hour
Regular Communion schedule
Usually the first Sunday of the Month. All are welcome to the table. We offer non-alcoholic and gluten-free sacrament (explained in our weekly bulletin).
What to expect when you visit
You should expect to be greeted at the door, we will give you a first-time visitor packet. Other members of the church will welcome you and you will be received by the pastor.
Children arrive with parents or guardians and stay in the worship service until a children's time, when they are dismissed for children's church.
As an Open and Affirming congregation, we welcome individuals with developmental, intellectual, or physical disabilities into our worship space.
Average Sunday worship attendance
70, typical range from 65-90. We have roughly 30 children registered for Sunday School.
Deeper worship experiences
The Sacred/Profane Community
Lent & Holy Week services
Interfaith Thanksgiving observances
Religious Education opportunities
Children's Sunday School
Child care during worship
Seasonal adult classes
Summer programs for children
Youth and Adult Confirmation Classes
Adult Vacation Beer & Bible School
Community and justice opportunities
Emmanuel's Closet (community pantry)
Congregational Social Justice Ministries
NA Meetings (Wed. evenings)
National Night Out
Interfaith and Ecumenical ministries
Annual fundraiser dinners
Weekly fellowship hour
Outdoor Ministries through Penn Central Conference