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Re: A Worship Service Designed for Toddlers and Infants?
We moved to the area while I was pregnant & we were lookikng for the same thing - a church community where our children will be embraced and get involved, and not relegated to the back row. We visited a number of churches & the one where my husband and I resoundingly agreed would be the best environment for our children, plus where we both felt most comfortable was Orinda Community Church. Although not the largest church, it has the strongest family-like community. Everyone in OCC(from the very old to the very young) knows my childrens names, interests, and talks to them with sincerety, and has shown genuine caring.
Children of all ages are invited to join parents in the service. They even provide crayons and coloring pages for the little ones in the sanctuary. I was initially afraid of afraid of my baby cooing or my toddler prattle during the service, but have come to realize that everyone is realistic and welcomes all ages - some churches make you feel like you would at a formal restaurant, nervous that they might be disruptive, but at OCC it feels more like being with friends and family. They often simply smile if toddlers exhibit some normal toddler behavior, or babies do what babies naturally do! Almost all have had their own children at some point and been there. I have even had occaision, when as a new mother in need of a little rest, respite, and spiritual renewal, had members of the church offer to hold and comfort a crying baby while I take a few minutes to re-charge my own batteries, so to speak. As they grew older, my daughters could not sit still during the music and enjoyed dancing in the aisles, which at first I was afraid would disturb the older church members, only to be told they found it such a joy to see them enjoying the service and the music in their own way.
Every service each week includes ''time for our children'' where all children are invited to come up and participate in a part of the service where they talk about the sermon for the day in childrens terms and involve some activity that makes it fun and meaningful for the kids. Children are then welcome to either stay in sanctuary for the reading and sermon with their parents or go to the Learning Center where they offer activities for all ages. Infants are nurtured and cared for. Toddlers play and continue to discuss the sermon for the day and do a craft related to it which they can bring home and remember it by. School age children have additiuonal discussions, activities, and sharing of joys and concerns with each other. They are involved in choosing a long term project which has meaning to them, and have raised money for Heifer, plant a fruit tree, fed sandwiches to the homeless, visited other churches, planned fun outings, etc..
Every year OCC plans a number of activities where all ages have fun, such as a family picnic in the summer, a Yosemite weekend in the spring, an Oktoberfest barbecue in the fall, a craft & carol night at the start of advent, etc.. OCC is so welcoming of kids and makes them feel such a part of the family - my preschoolers have begun to participate during announcements, and my young daughters feel comfortable to share their joys and concerns with the church - whether a grandma is ill, or a relative is coming to visit. OCC is a member of the United Church of Christ.
One of the other things we love is that they welcome everyone, wherever you are on life's journey, and provide a forum for discussion for those seeking spiritaul understanding. Members include people with a variety of backgrounds - from people raised in catholic church to agnostics. My husband, for example is half jewish and did not attend church or synagogue as a kid - he felt uncomfortable in a number of churches. However, he always felt comfortable at OCC. As children become teens and have more questions, the openess to question as part of their own seeking and understanding and development of their own personal faith is an important part. I look forward to being welcomed as my daughters reach that age. Jackie
Re: Family friendly church for Uk transplants
I invite you to check out my church, the Orinda Community Church. (www.orindachurch.org). Just off the highway in Orinda, it is progressive, welcoming to all, has a great children's program, and services feature amazing music. The congregation is friendly and we have members from all around the East Bay. The church also organizes excellent speakers and workshops, and has a new group learning about global warming and what we can do as individuals. It is part of the United Church of Christ. Anne
Re: Church for middle age and beyond?
Hi Community Seeker, I'd like to recommend my church, the Orinda Community Church. This church grew out of the community over 50 years ago, and is affiliated with the United Church of Christ (well known for it's long progressive history, and more recently for being President Obama's church.) In addition to activities for children and families, we have a lot going on for adult seekers, including after church forums on interesting topics (last Sundays featured recent research on ''Jesus the Jew''), an active ''green church'' group helping us become more sustainable, retreats at Yosemite, amazing choir music, and much more. Check out our web site: http://www.orindachurch.org/. anne
Re: Liberal Church in Lamorinda or Walnut Creek
I recommend that you check out my church, the Orinda Community Church in Orinda. It is an open-minded, grounded, friendly community that is welcoming to all kinds of people. A number of years ago the congregation adopted an official ''open and affirming'' statement, making it clear that they welcome all regardless of sexual orientation, race, age, ability, etc. When my family moved here from Berkeley, we found a great community at OCC.
As they say on their web site: Orinda Community Church is a warm, intelligent Christian community where you are encouraged to think for yourself. At OCC you can connect with people, explore spiritual issues, serve the community, and make a difference in a changing world. OCC has a place for you.
Sunday services are 10 am. I'd be happy to tell you more if you'd like, just contact me. anne
They specifically say they are ''open and affirming'' and I believe they have the tolerant and non-judgmental attitude you seek -- my husband calls it a ''liberal intellectual'' church. They are into political action, good works, and environmentalism -- he's on the ''Green'' church committee. However, there's not a lot of diversity within the church population itself -- mostly white folks, honestly. There's spiritual diversity, though -- I'm an atheist, and I've always felt comfortable there.
However, the associate pastor, who we loved, just left for the East Coast, and they're in the process of hiring to replace her. My husband says that some of the temporary pastors giving sermons are not quite up to par, so don't judge the church by the temps! anon
Re:Raised Catholic, looking at other churches, help us choose
I recently discovered the United Church of Christ, through our local congregation at the Orinda Community Church. I had never heard of this protestant group, but it has deep progressive roots.
This church is wonderful, providing warm and accepting community, and the kind of ''Berkeley'' values we wondered if we had left behind when we moved through the tunnel. In fact, our church right now is housing homeless families in a county-wide church run effort that was a response to Orinda's public refusal of a shelter last winter.
The UCC has been in the news lately, because they made a TV ad aimed at those who feel unwelcome in the religions they grew up in. Its message is ''whoever you are, wherever you are on your spiritual journey, you are welcome here.'' The reason this was in the news was that two networks -- CBS and NBC -- refused to air the ads because they include same sex couples in the people pictured! You can read all about the UCC, and see the ads, which are very moving, at http://www.ucc.org/
A last note; the church has a sense of humor. When I went to the site just now to get the address right, I saw this on the home page: ''SpongeBob recieves unequivocal welcomes from the UCC.'' anne
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