My Visit to a Service at WellSprings UU
My friend Will has been touting the fellowship and spiritualism of the WellSprings (Unitarian Universalist) Congregation in Chester Springs, PA, for a few months. His wife is out of town for the weekend, so he invited me to join him for this morning’s Sunday service. I enjoyed it.
It so happens that my wife and I are sort of shopping around for a new congregation as we’re becoming restless at Beth Chaim (Jewish) Reform Congregation in Malvern, PA, where we are presently members. WellSprings’ Sunday services are held at Montgomery School in a handsome building with good natural lighting and a wooden beam ceiling which ironically is reminiscent of Beth Chaim’s new building. I estimate that there were 70 folks attending this morning.
The music for WellSpring’s Sunday services is performed by a four-member — well, rock band — led by lead singer Teresa Nazario, wife of Lead Minister Ken Beldon. All the songs this morning were sing-alongs — for the upbeat numbers, clap-alongs — with the lyrics projected on a screen above the band for the benefit of the congregation.
The music selection today was impressively contemporary, as Will had led me to expect. I remember four of the five songs:
- Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground” (lyrics)
- The O’Jays’ “Love Train” (lyrics)
- Ben Lee‘s “We’re All in This Together” (lyrics — this song is not the song of the same title in Disney’s High School Musical)
- Indigo Girls‘ “Closer to Fine” (lyrics)
About a half hour into the service the 20 or so chidren in attendance left the sanctuary and went into a classroom for Sunday school. I’ll need to find out more about this if we seriously consider becoming members of the congregation.
Weeks ago Will had given me a CD with some of Beldon’s sermons, but I never got around to listening to it. (I may yet.) Today Beldon, a graduate of Oberlin College, my wife’s alma mater, spoke about the reality of interdependence. My mind wandered only about 30 percent of the time, which means I was focused significantly more than usual for me in this type of setting.
The sermon clocked in at about 25 minutes, a bit long for my taste. I have to agree with Will, though, that Beldon is an accomplished speaker. He never lapsed into monotone and as far as I could tell, rarely referred to notes. All told the service ran about 70 minutes.
Following the service there was fellowship and refreshments. I met a dozen or so members and they were all very friendly but not overbearing. As for the refreshments, WellSprings could take lessons from Beth Chaim. Today’s offerings were coffee, water, brownies, and cookies. Maybe they will upgrade that aspect some day.
At fellowship I also got a chance to chat with Beldon, 38, who is “the show” at WellSprings, according to Will. (Meaning: losing Beldon would be a gigantic setback for the congregation.) In our conversation I found Beldon to be engaging and genuine. He asked my religious background and shared that he was raised Jewish — Will had told me this but I had forgotten. Podcasts of Beldon’s sermons are available online (Adobe Flash Player v9 required), by the way.
The congregation is barely a year old.
UU has long held appeal. I agree with its core values and beliefs. I think my wife and our sons would have liked this service and the friendly people. One of these upcoming Sundays I’d like us all to go to a service there.
We also plan to visit Downingtown Friends Meeting. The primary appeal there is the peace activism I associate with Quakerism — plus we have friends who are members at Downingtown.