I visited Grace Place on October 14. Due to all things going on in my life, I am now posting about it. Grace Place is a small congregation: they run 40-50 in their Sunday 10:00 a.m. service. I was very happy to see a small congregation doing well in the city. Before this the churches I’ve visited were huge. It was nice to see something smaller, since I will be beginning very small.
What I had never seen before was that no one was up front during the singing, prayer or psalm reading. The piano would introduce the song, and the priest, Father Tim Curtis, would sing loudly to get us started. He also led from the side in reading the Psalm. The only time people were up front were for the reading of the Scripture, the sermon, and Eucharist. After the songs, prayer, and Scripture Readings, there was sermon. The associate pastor, Sonny Lopez, preached. It was nice to see a woman preaching. I haven’t seen that since I stopped attending the First United Methodist Church with my husband last year (they have two female pastors on staff who preach regularly). She preached a sermon I needed to hear: that Christ is the one who empowers us. We walk in Christ’s power not our own.
After the sermon was a time of community prayer. After Father Tim prayed the pastoral prayer, people were invited to voice their prayers and thanksgivings, which they did. There were several prayer requests, thanksgivings, and praises. It was a time of true communal worship. I think I am going to be doing this in my own services. After passing the peace and the offering, we gathered around the altar for communion. Their altar is circular, so we all could stand around it as a family and receive the elements. Then there was the sending out and benediction. One of the really nice things about this service is they have cut out all of the getting up and down, bowing, genuflecting, and crossing yourself. So you didn’t have to worry about what you should be doing if you didn’t grow up in a high liturgical tradition.
I really liked the small community feel. But that is a personal preference. I lived in a small town and grew up in small churches. The thing I really liked is that this church is a community. There were coffee and snacks after the service, and everyone talked. I was warmly welcomed and talked with several people about the church. The same thing happened when we passed the peace during the service. Everyone took the time to talk, and there was a lot of hugging.
On Wednesday Grace Place has a noon Eucharist, which is a very simple service. There is no music and the liturgy is cut down to its basic components. It’s a quiet service of reflection and short sermon then Eucharist. It is a nice oasis in the middle of busy week if you work, live, or go to school in the Printers Row area. Centering Prayer is 12:00-12:15, and the Eucharist is 12:15-12:45 p.m.
Grace Place is very intentional about community and worshiping as a community. I really enjoyed worshiping with them and getting to know some of the people. I’ve been dropping in on the Wednesday Eucharist every other week or so.
I want to finish the post with the creed they use. They do not use The Apostle’s Creed or The Nicene Creed in their liturgy. They use this creed from A New Zealand Prayer Book/He Carakia Mihinare o Aotearoa:
You O God, are supreme and holy.
You create our world and give us life.
Your purpose overarches everything we do.
You have always been with us.
You are God.
You, O God, are infinitely generous,
good beyond all measure.
You came to us before we came to you.
You have revealed and proved
your love for us in Jesus Christ,
who lived and died and rose again.
You are with us now.
You are God.
You, O God, are Holy Spirit.
You empower us to be your gospel in the world.
You reconcile and heal; you overcome death.
You are our God. We worship you.
The picture is of a service at Grace Place from their website: Grace Church Chicago.