A Warm Welcome from Gloucester
Welcome to the web-page for the Gloucester congregation of the United Church of God (UCG).
If you’re considering visiting or are wondering about what it’s like to meet with a UCG congregation in the UK, then hopefully this page will begin to answer some of your questions and encourage you to get in touch.
We’re different ages, from different places and social backgrounds but we all get along well because we share a common purpose: we want to live God’s way of life.
When Do We Meet ?
The time or venue for the service may be subject to change, so please get in touch before coming along. See below.
We start the service by standing up to sing three hymns from the hymn books that are provided.
That’s followed by a brief prayer, requesting God’s blessing on the service.
Emphasis during the Sabbath service is about learning about the Bible and what it means (Nehemiah 8:8).
Before the Sermon, we occasionally (but not always) begin with a shorter scriptural lesson, which we call the “Sermonette” and then announcements about what’s going on in the local and wider church congregations.
After any announcements we stand up and sing another hymn.
The Sermon typically lasts for between forty-five minutes and an hour. Occasionally we’ll watch a Sermon from a DVD that has been presented previously in another congregation.
If you haven’t already, you can listen to typical sermons here. Doing so will give you a good idea of what to expect.
That said, although listening remotely is convenient (and in some cases necessary), scripture teaches us that God wants us to fellowship together on His Sabbath (see Being Together On The Sabbath and Sabbath Assembly – Benefits To Us on this page).
Sometimes sermons (or “Sermonettes” if we have one) will sometimes be presented using PowerPoint slides.
Members of the congregation who have brought their own Bibles will often turn to read the scriptures as the minister refers to them (see Acts 17:11) and some of us like to take notes.
At the end of the Sermon, we stand to sing another hymn.
Then a prayer is given to thank God for what we’ve learned and to ask for His blessings during the coming week.
That’s the end of the formal Sabbath service.
Then we typically put the kettle on and sit down for an hour or so for informal conversations over some tea, coffee, cakes, cheese, biscuits and other goodies that we bring along by way of a bit of a “pot luck” as our American friends call it.
What Should I Bring?
You may want to bring a Bible to read along with the scriptures during the Sermon.
Some of us also like to bring a note-pad and a pen, so that we can take notes and review the content of the Sermon during the coming week.
If you want to bring a laptop or a tablet along to look up the scriptures and/or take notes, that’s fine too.
What About Children?
Children of all ages are welcome (Matthew 9:14).
If you have younger children feel free to bring along say a rug or a sleeping bag to lay on the floor, and then they can choose to either play with quiet toys, puzzles, drawing or colouring books, or have a nap.
If they make a bit of noise during services, don’t worry. We don’t expect them to “be seen and not heard”.
There are quite a few teenagers in the Gloucester congregation. Some bring tablets or laptops and quietly play on them whilst they listen to the message.
I’m a Nursing Mother
If you’re a nursing mother, we’ll make sure that you’ll be OK if you want somewhere private to feed your baby, just ask one of the Mums.
Do Get In Touch First
If you’d like to attend please call Frank & Dot (above) on 01886 832881 first.
Alternatively Bryan and Tanya (below) can be contacted on 01452 855283.
They will know the full details about what will be happening when you’re planning to attend.
They’ll also be able to make sure that someone will be there to welcome you and give you any help that you may need.
What Should I Do If I’m Unsure About Coming?
Feeling a bit apprehensive about coming to Sabbath services for the first time isn’t unusual.
Why not give Frank & Dot or Bryan & Tanya a call and have a chat about it?
They’re easy to talk to.
Will I Be Expected to Do Anything Else?
You can help us set up the hall if you’re a bit early and to put the chairs away afterwards if you wish.
In the same way that we keep the Sabbath, we also keep the Festivals that are commanded by God in the Bible and which the first century Church also observed.
Except for the Day of Atonement, which is a commanded fast, we bring additional food and drinks and share an enjoyable sit-down meal together on Feast days.
From time to time we also hold church social events.
Members from other United Church of God congregations often attend and there are usually quizzes and games.
A recent one that we held had a Hollywood theme and everyone came in fancy dress.
I Live Too Far Away
If you do live too far away to attend, sermons are available as MP3 or DVD recordings by request from our UK office. For those with broadband Internet connection, you can listen to typical sermons here.
Why Come to Sabbath Services?
Of course, you can get lots of Bible study information over the internet and even watch or listen to United Church of God Sabbath services on line.
However, the Sabbath (Saturday) is a great opportunity to spend time with people who, like you, are learning to live God’s way of life.
Importantly though, the Sabbath is a weekly Feast that God commands us to observe together.
Being Together On The Sabbath
When God explained His laws to His people this principle was very clearly established.
Leviticus 23:3 Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein: it is the sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings.
Strong’s Concordance explains that a convocation is: “something called out, that is, a public meeting (the act, the persons, or the place); also a rehearsal: – assembly…”
So God commands us to have a holy assembly or meeting on His Sabbath.
The Bible also warns us in Hebrews about “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together” in Hebrews.
Hebrews 10:23-25 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
Sabbath Assembly – Benefits To Us
So Hebrews tells us then that assembling together is to help us to “hold fast” to our faith, to “consider one another”, to provoke each other to do “good works” and to encourage each other.
Arguably, these are things that we can’t really do on our own.