In all, this was quite a lovely morning. This church is across the street from my apartment complex hidden down a little path that goes right up a hill. The church is a Frank Loyd Wright inspired building, white brick and modern looking set against a grove of trees.
Inside the building, there's a small hallway leading into the chapel. The chapel is cruciform with the pulpit standing at the front which also happens to be a corner with how the building is laid out. The ceilings are white and vaulted in the shape of a cross and walls covered in rock work. Christmas decorations were still left up (12 days of Christmas end tonight).
The atmosphere was very welcoming. I've never seen a more friendly group of people in my life. I think at some point, every single person there came over and introduced themselves to me. The congregation was primarily made up of senior citizens, though there was a younger crowd which all sat together composed of teenagers and young adults. As far as style, people were dressed in everything from suits to punk rock, which I found refreshing.
The service was pretty laid back. It was structured similarly to a Catholic Mass, but with some noted differences and a much stronger sense of informality. The hymns were lovely and traditional. They sang one that I used to love to sing when I was Catholic, "Christ Be Our Light."
The readings were done in a dramatic way, with the pastor and a couple members of the congregation playing different roles from the story, and between parts of the reading, hymns were sung.
The sermon was lovely, given by a pastor who is openly gay and seems like a genuinely kind man. His sermon was on the good and the bad of the world. How though we face real problems with violence, war, famine, climate change, etc; there is still much good in the world including a lowering of crime for the past several decades, lowered HIV infections worldwide the past couple decades, rising literacy rates and standards of living in many countries. It was nice to hear about hope in a world filled with such pessimism.
Communion was simple, essentially French bread that congregants dipped in either wine or grape juice and the blessing over the communion elements was done by both the pastor and the congregation, which I felt added warmth to the ceremony.
At the very end, the congregation gathered around the perimeter of the chapel and sang a hymn of friendship and peace before everyone greeted one another with a handshake and a wish of peace.
Afterward, the coffee hour was nice, chicken salad sandwiches and fruit salad were served and I sat at a table listening to the members wax on poetically about how beautiful it was that Utah now has legalized gay marriage and how repulsed they were at the backlash on the issue.
In all, it was a great experience. I would go back. Lovely people, lovely service, lovely bit of hope in a dark world.