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Worship Services at First Parish Church of Groton

Services begin at 10:00 am each Sunday morning, when all ages gather in the sanctuary and listen to the ringing of the church bell, and the voices of our children’s choir, youth choir, or adult choir. Our service includes music and silence, singing and prayer, candle lighting. The children gather at the altar for a story, which the adults anticipate as much as the children. We light candles to mark our joys and sorrows, anniversaries and milestones and at least once a month, the children stay to light candles with the adults before going to church school. We listen to poetry and sermons and reflections shared by members and friends of the congregation. We are a crying people and a laughing one, and keep boxes of tissues in all the pews to remind us that laughter and tears are expected here.

More details on our Sunday services are below; see also the FAQ page.

This is not

  the age of information.

Forget the news

  and the radio,

  and the blurred screen

This is the time

  of loaves

  and fishes.

People are hungry

  and one good word is bread

  for a thousand.

— David Whyte

Regular Sunday Services

Sunday services are led by our minister, Rev. Elea Kemler, and are held in the Sanctuary on the second floor of the Meeting House at 10:00 am during the church year (the first Sunday after Labor day until the third Sunday of June).

Services begin with music and the ringing of our Paul Revere church bell. Then there is a musical Call to Worship, Welcome and Announcements given by a member of the congregation, singing, and the lighting of the chalice, the symbol of Unitarian Universalism.

Children begin in the Sanctuary with their families each Sunday for about the first 20 minutes of the service. After the weekly lighting of the chalice, the children are invited to come to the front of the church to hear a story and engage in an always lively dialogue with the minister. Following the Time for All Generations, the congregation sings the children and teachers to their church school classes.

Almost every week there is a chance to light a candle during the part of the service known as Candles of Celebration and Concern. This is a time to share briefly a personal joy, sorrow, milestone, or important event in your life that you would like the community to know about. Children have the opportunity to light candles along with adults on the last Sunday of the month before going to church school.

Usually, the Adult Choir sings two Sundays of the month and the Children’s Choir and Youth Choir each sing one Sunday of the month. There is often a Reading from sources either ancient and modern. There is always a time of Prayer and Silent Meditation and an Offering. On the majority of Sundays, there is a sermon from the minister. The service ends with a sung Benediction, during which members are invited to stand and face the center aisle and sing to one another as a way of blessing each other for the week ahead. The congregation then sits and listens to the Postlude. At this time everyone is welcome to come forward and light a silent candle of joy or sorrow. We remain seated in quiet until the last candle is lit.

All are welcome to stay after the service for Fellowship Hour with coffee, tea, good food and a children’s table with child-friendly snacks. Visitors are seek out those with a blue mug — they will be church members who are particularly willing to welcome you, answer any questions, and hook you up with others sharing your interests.

There are several special Sundays in the course of the church year. These include Brown Bag Lunch Making Sunday on the Sunday after Christmas when we make hundreds of lunches for area shelters; Jazz Sunday; and Animal Blessing Sunday when all creatures great and small are welcome to come to church. Check the website or monthly church newsletter or call the church for more information about upcoming services.

Early Worship Service

A small circle meets for worship most Sundays in the church year. It is organized for all religious education volunteers and for anyone else who would like to gather early for worship in an intimate, informal setting. The service meets from 9:00 – 9:30 am in the minister’s study in the parish house and includes lighting the chalice, sharing joys and sorrows, and hearing the morning’s reading and sermon, led by Rev. Kemler. All are welcome.

Friends of Summer (a.k.a. Small Church)

Services are held year-round at First Parish. In normal years, Sunday “Big Church” runs until mid-June; now that the church is virtual, the Sunday worship services from the minister's living room will continue uninterrupted.

In addition, this summer we will be meeting via Zoom on Wednesday evenings for Small Church. Services are led by talented members and friends of the congregation on a wide range of topics — everything from poetry sharing to hymn singing to our place among the stars.

Here is the schedule for summer 2020. Earlier years are also available ( 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, and 2006 ).

Orders of Service

You can get a feel for our regular Sunday services by downloading a recent Order of Service here (in PDF form). We keep one full year’s worth of these available on this site.

2020 — March  08 ,  01 ; February  23 ,  16 ,  09 ,  02 ; January  26 ,  19 ,  12 ,  05 .

2019 — December  22 ,  20 ,  15 ,  08 ,  01 ; November  24 ,  17 ,  10 ,  03 ; 2 October  27 ,  20 ,  13 ,  06 ; September  29 ,  22 ,  15 ,  08 ; June  16 ,  09 ,  02 ; May  26 ,  19 ,  12 ,  05 ; April  28 ,  21  (Easter Sunday),  19  (Good Friday),  14 ,  07 ; March  31 ,  24 ,  17 ,  10 ,  03 ; February  24 ,  17 ,  10 ; January  27 ,  20 ,  13 ,  06 .


3 Powderhouse Road … Groton, MA 01450-4700 … 978-448-6307 …   …  

Most recently updated 2020-07-15