On Being a Worship Associate

Sue Bickford, Worship Associate

Each Sunday, our service runs pretty much like clockwork. (OK there have been some glitches over the years, but generally they get handled well.) From the outside, it would be hard to guess the number of people that contribute to having the Sunday service come to fruition week after week. It is a true team effort.

By Sunday morning, the focus is on the chancel. Usually, on our chancel, we have three people: the accompanist, the minister/speaker, and the Worship Associate (WA). The Worship Associate plays a bit of an MC role. They arrive early and make sure the chancel is appropriately outfitted. Then the WA gets the service started, moves it along through the familiar rhythm of introducing UUSM to visitors, reaffirming our covenant, getting food gifts and money offerings collected, and getting children off to RE. We run the business side of the house. Our Worship Associates make it all look so smooth. Did you ever wonder how that happens?

Well, you can find out. We are recruiting for Worship Associates. It is a fulfilling position from which to serve the church. We meet once a month and those meetings train us, connect us, and alert us to how the Worship services are evolving over the year. The meetings are full of heart and creativity and learning about liturgy.

Being a worship associate has helped me to really dig into the sermon topics, feel part of the church in a new way, and learn more about church members. Many hands make light work, and our monthly meetings are fun. Please consider coming to our worship associate meetings and seeing if this is a volunteer service you might enjoy!   —Chela Metzger, WA

Worship Associates are asked to sign up for six services a year, that’s one every couple of months. New Worship Associates are mentored through their first few services by a more experienced WA. More connections are made both to people and the rhythms of the church year. Typically WAs stay in that position for about three years.

In my role as WA, I love that the structure of the year and the services pushes me to think about ideas in a deep way that I might not otherwise have done. I love that I can share those thoughts and get more ideas shared back with me. I love that I am part of a team of wonderfully thoughtful people who teach me so much.

Technology is also involved. I even love that. Would I have understood Slack, Google docs, and Zoom nearly as well as I do now without being a WA? I doubt it.

Standing up in front of a group of supportive congregants who want to journey through each service with me is a joy. Being a WA is one of the most gentle places to test out my public speaking skills. I never feel judged. Services where I am in front of the congregation always feel to me as if I am connecting with fellow travelers, not performing for an audience.

Want to stick your toe into the WA water? Send me a message at worshipassociateschair@uusm.org or to Rev. Jeremiah at minister@uusm.org. We’ll answer your questions, send you an application, or give you a call. The hard work and coordination of putting together a service is all worth it when Sunday morning flows smoothly from the prelude into a coffee hour full of conversation and smiles.