Open, Welcoming and Affirming
Williston-Immanuel United Church offers a personal welcome to everyone, affirming common values as well as unique differences. Acceptance without conditions, affirmation without discrimination--these are among the motivating goals of Williston-Immanuel United Church of Portland, Maine.
The campus of Williston-Immanuel United Church is located in the heart of Portland's Arts District, at 156 High Street. Its series of modified-English, Gothic buildings in granite is located on the corner of High and Deering Streets, directly across from the Westin Portland Harbor View Hotel.
There is also a bike rack by the Church's rear entrance, and a few do use it.
- Limited, free parking for 12-15 cars is provided behind the Church buildings, off of Deering Place.
- Behind the Congress Street Sub-Post Office, a 10-car, free parking lot, owned by the State Theatre, is made available for Williston-Immanuel's use on a first come basis.
- At the indoor parking garage within a block north of the Church on High Street, Williston-Immanuel provides free parking using "chaser tickets" which are available during the coffee hour after worship, or at the Welcome Table. They are valid for the 3 hours between 9 am and noon.
- Four or five cars may be parked in the Church's alley, off of High Street and directly to the east of the Church's front doors. (If the alley is roped-off for the State Theatre, the capped meters in front of the Church are reserved for Williston-Immanuel during Sunday morning worship and study hours.)
There are three entrances:
1) High Street front entrance to the Sanctuary;
2) Deering Street Cloister gate entrance, leading to the Narthex and the Chapel;
3) Rear entrance from the parking lot off of Deering Place, all week long.
We now offer assistance to worshipers who experience hearing difficulties. A pocket-sized Williams Sound System receiver is available from a greeter or usher prior to each Sunday's service of worship. Also, there are now ADA-approved lavatories on the main floor by the Church Offices and on the lower level, at the front of the Fellowship Hall.
The worship space has magnificent architecture, glorious stained glass, a state-of-the-art pipe organ and two grand pianos, plus comfortable pews. The church's Sanctuary and Church House are a modified form of English Gothic. The material used is granite, so fitly joined that the whole structure has been called "a poem in stone." Groundbreaking was held on April 28, 1926.
The worship service contains a meaningful blend of traditional and contemporary elements. There is freedom and encouragement to experiment with new forms of worship and music. A Children's Time is a part of each worship service. Some worshipers dress formally; others dress casually; the choir and clergy wear robes. The experience of worshiping with Williston-Immanuel is not easily forgotten.
A fellowship time for casual meeting, where snacks and beverages are provided, follows each worship service.
Sharing Our Space:
Williston-Immanuel United Church accepts the responsibility and stewardship of using its buildings through many different expressions of Christian mission and ministry. Therefore it shares portions of its space with many groups and organizations who are committed to caring for the greater Portland community in creative, ecumenical and self-help activities. While this is dynamic and always changing, at the present time the following ministries share Williston-Immanuel's space:
CIRCLE OF HOPE of The Metropolitan Community Church, semi-weekly meditation and fellowship in the Church Parlors, since 1994.
FURNITURE FRIENDS, an administrative office on the 2nd floor of the Church House for a program providing helpful furniture to new residents in Portland, beginning in 2014.
GRACE STREET MINISTRY, an office and storage space on the 2nd floor of the Church House, responding to personal needs among people on the streets of Portland, since 2012.
HEARTFELT SCHOOL, a weekday, Waldorf-inspired, early childhood education program in a suite of rooms on the 2nd floor of the Church House., since 2013.
MAINE COUNCIL OF CHURCHES, with administrative headquarters on the 2nd floor of the Church House, since 2011.
NOSOTROS–WE THE PEOPLE, an English as a 2nd language and radio/TV production office for the Hispanic community, on the 2nd floor of the Church House, since 2013.
SUDANESE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, worship and Sunday School in the Chapel and Fellowship Hall on Sunday afternoons, since before the bicentennial.
Williston-Immanuel United Church is also the venue for several 12-step programs each week, series of personal music lessons, the frequent choral rehearsal space for various, Portland-area, performing groups, numerous concerts, and an annual jazz-camp-for-youth in the summer. Historically, Portland's WAYSIDE COMMUNITY MEALS and many cooperative programs with the PARKSIDE NEIGHBORHOOD ASSN, began or were catapulted into existence through years of support from Williston-Immanuel United Church. Collectively through the years these programs have touched or continue to uplift thousands of people with vital, outreach ministries. And this is why Williston-Immanuel considers using the Church space to be "very good stewardship," …the way the Church's forebears would have wanted.