First Unitarian Society in Newton

Ministries / Services / Lay-led Services

What Is a Lay-Led Service?

Lay-led services are creative, heart-felt events in the life of the society. They are designed and delivered by members of the FUSN community. Lay-led services tackle political, social, and religious topics, and generally include a focus on the spiritual implications for the individual and the community.  Examples of past services:

  • Crossing Borders: Slaves in the Family
  • Death and Dying
  • The Challenge of Disability

Any member of the community is welcome to submit a proposal to organize and conduct a lay-led service.

How Do Lay-led Services Fit into UU Beliefs and Practice?

Lay community member voices are a cherished centerpiece in the worship schedule in the FUSN tradition. These lay voices provide much appreciated guidance and help to clarify values and concerns that characterize the congregation. Much of community identity is expressed through the ideas and concerns honored in services. Also, Unitarian Universalist communities follow congregational polity, a structure that relies heavily on the power of the lay community and the concerns of the lay members expressed by the larger denominational body. 

How Often Are These Services Scheduled?

Typically, there are four-to-six lay-led services held during the worship year calendar.

What Are the Core Components of Such Services?

While most lay-led services include music, readings, and personal testimony, the only required components of a lay-led service are the collection and, if the service falls on the last Sunday of the month, a Candles of Remembrance ritual. At least one rehearsal prior to the day of the service is required. Creative approaches that vary from standard services are welcome - although there is no prohibition against following the standard format. If music is a component of the service, which it almost always is, there are FUSN musicians who have offered their talents for lay services.

What Resources Are Available to Help Me Conduct a Service?

The Worship Committee will work with the person responsible for delivering the service to ensure they have the help they need.  The Committee has developed a number of helpful materials, including a planning template and a musicians list.  Someone from the Committee will also help you organize an overall timeline for getting ready and assist you at rehearsals.

Note that while the professional FUSN music staff-director and choir-are not available for these services, Anne Watson Born has offered to consult with lay service sponsors regarding music selection.

Who Should You Contact to Begin? 

You may contact co-chairs of the Worship Committee Charlie Watts and Holly Haynes or Marylou McArdle, Karen Edwards, or Nancy Stanton. If you decide to organize the service, request a proposal form from one of these people or fill out an application and submit it to the committee.


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