Worship at Circle of Mercy
We worship in a circle, reminding us that we all come as equals. In the center is a table, a sign of God’s abundant bounty, to which all have access. The table holds the bread and cup of communion, the sharing of which is at the heart of our gathering every Sunday evening, as we remember Jesus’ sacrifice and the promise of resurrection hope.
Also central is a reading from scripture and reflection upon it, offered by one of our co-pastors, a member of the congregation, or one of several friends locally, nationally, and internationally who pass through the Circle.
We mark the traditional seasons and holidays of the church year, as well as commemorate contemporary examples of faithful witness. Each service includes a time for the congregation to name joys and concerns, ranging from personal petitions to pleas for our nation and the world, which are gathered up in prayer. Our worship is participatory and experimental, making use of drama, poetry, and the visual arts, as well as testimonies of faith and litanies of confession and praise, celebrating the expansiveness of God.
We intersperse silence and music, drawing from an eclectic array of traditions including African-American spirituals, Taize chants, ancient church hymns, Appalachian folk melodies, and the harmonies of places as distant as El Salvador, South Africa, and Scotland’s Iona Community. Our music coordinator, Brian Graves, blesses us with original lyrics and blends the gifts of various congregation members with talent on piano, drums, guitar, violin, flute, hammered dulcimer, and voice. Occasionally standing bass and cornet appear in the mix as well, all making for a “joyful noise.”
Children are welcomed in the circle and at the table, and are encouraged to contribute their gifts of drama, dance, art, and spontaneity. Each service includes a special time focused on our youngest members, and spiritual formation classes convene for both children and youth September - May in the hour before worship. Adult spiritual formation gatherings are offered from time to time as well.