This page contains the answers to some questions that you may be asking about
Pilgrim Church. If you don't see your question, feel free to contact
us. As we get more questions, we will continue to expand this page. Some
of the work is in progress; these items are marked “to be written”.
About the UCC in general
About Pilgrim Church in particular
About our Worship
Renting the Facilities
About this Web Site
About the UCC in general
- What does UCC stand for?
- United Church of Christ.
- How long has the UCC existed?
- The UCC was founded in 1957.
- Does the UCC have anything like a Pope? Bishops? A “ruling council ”?
- No. The essense of a congregational Church is that that the individual
congregation decides how to worship, and what is appropriate for their liturgy.
So—in that sense—the real “control” of UCC churches
is “from the bottom up”, rather than “from the top down”.
There is no hierarchy of worship leaders or ecclesiastical rulers.
- So how is the national Church controlled?
- Every couple of years or so, representatives from UCC congregations around
the country meet in a gigantic gathering called the Synod. During this multi-day
event, the representatives debate and decide issues that affect the position
and course of the national Church. In this way, local churches make their
opinions known, and have a hand in how the national organization is run.
In addition, the national UCC has a paid staff that helps coordinate
and communicate between congregations.
- Is the UCC one of those “fundamentalist” religions?
- No. We are what might be referred to as a “thoughtfully
serious” Church. Our theology tends to be a moderate interpretation
of the scriptures, based upon modern translations. Because of the congregational nature of the UCC, each
congregation is different; however, the UCC in general tends to be a mainstream
- Is it “Church” or “church”?
- When referring to a Church as a body (as a national or worldwide organization),
one generally uses the capitalized “Church”. When referring to
an individual congregation or building, one can
talk about the lower-case “church”. The only exception is when
referring to the actual legal title of an individual church (such as “Pilgrim
Congregational Church UCC, Nashua, NH ”). But don't stress over it—if
you use the incorrect capitalization, no one here will yell at you.
- Where can I go to learn more about the UCC?
- The best place is the original national Church website at
About Pilgrim Church in particular
- When was Pilgrim Church founded?
- That depends on how you look at it. The current building was dedicated
in 1957; however, the congregation has ties that go back much farther. The
roots of congregational worship in the Nashua area—and therefore, our
back to 1684. For a more complete history, see our
- Where was the previous church building located?
- From 1882 to 1954, Pilgrim Church was located in downtown
Nashua on Temple Street, where the office building at One Indian Head Plaza
presently stands. In 1954, that church building was critically damaged by
Hurricane Carol, and was subsequently demolished. During the interim period
before the current building was constructed, the congregation worshipped
in the Charlotte Avenue school.
- Who runs the church?
- Ultimately, the congregation decides all matters in public meetings, by
voting. The biggest such meeting is the annual congregational meeting, which
occurs in January or February. In practice, it is very much like an old-fashioned town
meeting (as a pure democracy). For the rest of the year, regular business is delegated to various
Teams, whose chairs are elected by the congregation at the annual meeting.
- Who decides how the congregation worships?
- In essense, the congregation does. In practice, the Pastor and Worship Team
work jointly to create the worship liturgy and services.
- What are all these complicated terms that you use to describe the church
- Church construction has a long history, and various parts of a church
have specific names and significance. The sanctuary refers
to the entire space that is used for worship, including the area where the
congregation sits, as well as the parts occupied by the choir and Minister.
The chancel in
Pilgrim Church is the raised platform that includes the choir pews, organ,
and table. The pulpit and lectern are
the two podiums used for public speaking; traditionally, the pulpit is
used by the Minister (and/or other preachers) for the sole purpose of preaching
and leading worship, and is the taller of the two. The lectern may
be used by any person for any purpose, and is usually shorter and plainer.
Outside the sanctuary is the narthex, which serves
as a quiet foyer or entrance to the worship space.
In larger churches, cathedrals, and basilicas, there are many other specialized
parts of the church; however, Pilgrim Church is small enough that we don’t
have to worry about those.
- Who did the stained glass?
- Scott McDaniel (of Stained
Glass Resources in Hampden, MA) designed
and supervised the installation of our windows. (At the time he did the design,
he was working with Our Glass, which is the name inscribed on
the window. Click on the picture at right for a larger image.) We think he did a wonderful job.
- How many pipes does the organ have?
- 1440. We know because we had to take them all out during our building renovation project in 2004.
- Why does Fellowship Hall have an odd-shaped roof?
- The original architectural plan anticipated a two-story addition on the eastern
(Watson St.) side of Fellowship Hall. At that time, we chose to create a roofline
that could be easily extended to accommodate such an addition. In light of
current construction codes, we decided that a two-story addition was too
expensive. So we have a rather odd roofline. We are considering a mural on
the vertical wall …
- Why do the bricks look so old?
- The exterior bricks of the sanctuary and parlor were taken from the Temple
Street church, following its destruction in 1954. In addition, we have structural
beams in the sanctuary floor which were also taken from Temple Street. These massive wooden
beams were blackened in the fire of 1969; however, they are structurally
sound and continue to support our worship.
About our Worship
- What days are worship services held?
- We have regular worship services on Sunday mornings. During specific times
of year we have special services, which are announced well in advance (Ash
Wednesday, the week before Easter, Christmas Eve, etc.). At the
present time, we do not have regular worship services on other days of the
- What time is Sunday worship?
- We have one service on Sunday morning. During most of the year, Sunday
worship begins at 10:00 a.m. During the heat of the summer months (usually
July and August), we generally move the worship service to 9:00 a.m., to
help avoid the heat and let people get out earlier. The service typically
lasts about an hour to an hour and a half, depending upon exactly what is
- How will I know what to do during worship?
- Each service has a worship bulletin which is available as you walk into
the sanctuary. This has the outline of the service, and all parts to be spoken
by the congregation are in bold print. The bulletin also lists which
songs are to be sung, and notes which parts of the service are standing or
seated (if you are able, you should stand during those parts that are marked
with an asterisk).
- Who are those people helping the Minister?
- They are members of the Worship Team (or church members
who have volunteered). The Worship Team helps before the service
by serving as ushers, handing out bulletins, and answering questions. During
the worship service itself, the Worship Team members collect the offering and
assist in Communion and Baptisms.
- Who do I ask if I have a question?
- Before or after the service, feel free to ask a Worship Team member about
- Where are all the words to the songs?
- Most of the time, the song numbers in the bulletin refers to the Pilgrim
Hymnal, which are in the racks in the pews. Sometimes, a song may be included
in the bulletin itself.
- Why so much singing?
- Because we are descended from old Protestant denominations, and they all
liked to sing!
- I walked in one Sunday, and ordinary members of the church
led worship. What happened?
- Periodically, we will have Laity Sunday, in which members of the congregation
(“lay persons”) will lead the worship. This includes leading
the prayers, preaching, everything.
- Do I have to get up in front of everyone and speak?
- Not unless you want to. During most of our services, congregation members
simply take part in the prayers and responses listed in the bulletins, and
sing along with the hymns as well as they can. If you have an
announcement to make to the church, you can certainly do so during our time
of announcements and concerns (near the beginning of worship); however, this
is never a requirement. For special events like Laity Sunday, the Pastor
and Worship Team arrange participants well in advance, and they are always voluntary.
- What sacraments does Pilgrim Church observe?
- Baptism and Communion.
- Who can be baptized?
- Anyone, young or old, can be baptized. Baptism is
a prerequisite for full membership in our church. Parents who want to have
their children baptized meet with our church Pastor to discuss the meaning
of Baptism and the implications of the promises they make at the time of
Baptism. Older youth or adults who want to be baptized meet with our church
Pastor to discuss Baptism.
- If I get baptized, will I get dunked underwater?
- Not unless you want to be, and then you will have to bring your own tub.
Seriously, we do not have a large tank for full-immersion baptisms (as is
common in some other Protestant denominations). So the symbolic cleansing
is done by sprinkling water from a small Baptismal font onto the recipient’s forehead.
You won’t even need a towel.
- Who can receive Communion?
- All worshippers are welcome to receive Communion regardless
of age, baptism, or membership status. We believe young children learn about
its meaning as they partake of the sacrament in the context of our worship
and participation in the educational and mission life of our congregation.
- How often is Communion served, and how is it done?
- Our liturgy does not require
Communion to be celebrated at each service; in our congregation, we typically
have one Communion service each month (usually the first Sunday of the month).
The details of the service may vary; however, the common
thread is that we receive bread to represent the body of Christ, and juice
to represent his blood. Often we will walk up to the front of the sanctuary
to take the bread from the Worship Team members (symbolizing our individual
committment), and receive the juice seated in the pews (symbolizing our unity
Renting the Facilities
- Can I rent Pilgrim Church for a private function?
- In most cases, yes; however, we reserve the right to limit what kind
of functions can be held in the building.
- Who do I contact about renting part of the church?
- The church office manager acts as our
contact for all facilities use. She will ask you to fill out a standard facilities
usage form, describing the details of the event and the specific requirements
you have for your function. The process is described in more detail on our
- What limitations do I have if I rent the building?
- Who decides what is and what is not allowed?
- The church Operational Stewardship Team reviews all applications for
church use, and authorizes the details of each function.
- How far in advance should I reserve the building?
- At a minimum,
you should start at
least 2 months prior
to the date of the event. That allows us time to schedule and review the
application, as well as inform you of any potential scheduling conflicts.
However, our building is heavily utilized, so it is wise to contact the office
and fill out the facilities usage form as early as possible. We
have some events booked over a year in advance.
- I have a complaint about the facilities. Who do I see?
- Again, all contact about facilities is through the church office manager.
About this Web Site
- What does the little icon mean?
- It indicates a link to an external web site that is not maintained by
Pilgrim Church. It’s just an easy way to know whether you are leaving
our site before you click on a link.
Copyright © 2000-2013, Pilgrim Congregational Church, UCC, Nashua NH, USA. All rights reserved.