Celebrations of Life
As a combined American Baptist Church and United Church of Christ, Williston-Immanuel is a Christian church with the belief that its congregation is inspired and challenged as it looks forward to several special celebrations or festivals, especially “BAPTISM,” “CONFIRMATION,” “INFANT DEDICATION,” “COMMUNION” and “RIGHT-HAND OF CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP.” The United Church of Christ has historically referred to some of these as “SACRAMENTS,” and the American Baptist Churches in the USA has used the term “ORDINANCES.” Williston-Immanuel United Church, as a local congregation related to both national denominations, understands that as signs and symbols, some of these may not only point to a sacred reality but they may also be the means of communicating spiritual ideas and awakening personal responses within the individual who is experiencing them as well as the whole congregation observing them. As an emerging faith community, Williston-Immanuel United is comfortable using either term, believing that each is an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace, possessing a mystery whereby the grace of God is communicated.
At Williston-Immanuel United Church the sacrament or ordinance of Baptism is an observance ordained by Jesus Christ. The United Church of Christ encourages parents to bring their infant to the church to be baptized, in thanksgiving for the child’s life as well as in dedication to their own responsibility of nurturing that child in the Christian faith until the child matures and is able to understand the importance of his or her journey of faith. At that time the youth may consider a service of “Confirmation” which is their validation of the earlier experience of their baptism. The American Baptist tradition expresses a similar desire on the part of parents in a service of “Infant Dedication,” delaying baptism until the child matures to an age and ability to be able to understand its symbolism. In either situation, baptism by sprinkling-with-water or by immersion-in-water may be selected, recognizing that it is neither the amount of water nor the method of its use by the parents or the candidate that is important. In either situation the congregation shares the joy and excitement of new life, bearing a good deal of the responsibility to provide a church setting in which the child and/or youth may grow in faith.
Williston-Immanuel United celebrates “open” Communion, which means that everyone who understands its meaning is invited to participate. The broken bread and poured cup are deeply meaningful symbols of Jesus’ death on the cross for the remission of the sins of each person. Communion then becomes a ritual of memory and thanksgiving. The phrase carved on the Communion Table at the front of the Sanctuary says it well; “This do in remembrance of Me.” A church who practices “open Communion” believes that it doesn’t matter what a person’s age is, or where a person’s church membership may reside, or whether a person is a visitor or attends Williston-Immanuel regularly, or what lifestyle or orientation best describes that person—each who confesses that Jesus Christ is their Lord and Savior is invited to receive Communion.
New members are always welcomed. When a person wishes to become a member of Williston-Immanuel, contacting the Pastor begins a process. The Pastor meets with the inquirer, presents his/her name to the Deacons and then the Church Council, and the person is “voted in.” During a service of worship within a week or two, the new member is introduced to the congregation by someone who has already been a member of the church, the Pastor extends a simple handshake which is called the “Right Hand of Christian Fellowship,” and a membership certificate is presented. At the conclusion of the service, worshippers greet the new member in a receiving line at the front of the Sanctuary, after which everyone enjoys a more informal period of fellowship with refreshments. The way to begin the process is for the seeker to speak to the Pastor. (207-775-2301).
Williston-Immanuel is pleased to encourage people planning to be married to consider having their wedding ceremonies in the beautiful Sanctuary of the church. This would include people within the congregation as well as interested neighbors or visitors. Because there are pre-wedding-counseling and rehearsal schedules to align, as well as arrangements for the date-and-time of the ceremony and the needed church staff to help with it, interested persons should contact the Church Office at least six months in advance of their desired wedding day. In response, the Office Manager will provide documents explaining all the details included any related costs. The Sanctuary of Williston-Immanuel United Church is an absolutely gorgeous setting for a marriage ceremony, able to seat four hundred comfortably; the Greenough Chapel is ideal for smaller gatherings; and the Cloistered Garden perfect for setting up receiving lines and/or taking photographs. A Parish Hall is also available for receptions. Williston-Immanuel United Church is a very popular location for the weddings of couples who call and plan well in advance (207-775-2301) or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Download a copy of our Weddings at Williston-Immanuel United Church brochure.
At the time of the death of a dear friend, or someone in your family, the comfort of God’s love, the inspiration of the Scriptures, the reassuring presence of Williston-Immanuel’s Pastor, staff and congregation, and the availability of the church’s facilities, can be very supportive. You are encouraged to contact the Church Office to make any of these arrangements. Most Funeral Directors would be very pleased for your suggestion about using Williston-Immanuel United Church. This ministry is open to anyone. (207-775-2301)