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CTS is a member of the Metropolitan Washington, D.C. Synod of the ELCA

For Visitors

You may have already read our Who We Are page and know a bit about our community. If you haven’t, be sure to look there. Here is more information to help you gain a deeper understanding of us and to know what to expect when you visit.

Openness to all: As a sacramental community, we take very seriously our Lord’s example – God’s love is not meant just for some, it’s for everyone. Jesus had this peculiar habit of opening his arms to those who were excluded, who didn’t “fit in,” who others turned their back on. We are called to look beyond exclusion to inclusion and to welcome all. We try to do this in many ways. For example, CTS was the first Lutheran church in Montgomery County, MD to subscribe to the principle of Reconciling in Christ, in which we affirm our commitment to be an open and accepting community to gays and lesbians. Our doors are open to all and we have members who have immigrated to this area from throughout the world. Our membership comprises people from many faith backgrounds, including Roman Catholic, Baptist and Episcopal, as well as lifelong Lutherans. And we work to extend our community to those in great need, the homeless, the unemployed and those who are suffering.

Dress: We don’t have a dress code so please dress comfortably. We welcome YOU, not your clothes. You may see an occasional suit and tie, but most people dress in the same attire they would wear if they were visiting friends or a local restaurant.

We enjoy and welcome children at worship: Children are important in the life of our church family and we enjoy and welcome them at worship. We recognize noisy children and crying babies for what they are – gifts from God and signs of new life for which we give thanks. There is a children’s time during the 11:00 a.m. service when they may want to come up and join the other children for a special lesson. Activity bags are also available if your child is restless. We also have a children’s nursery near the sanctuary where you can sit with your child or leave him/her with a nursery volunteer. Ask an usher to help you. Between the early and late services, we also have Sunday School at 9:50am. Ask the greeter, usher or Pastor to help you find the appropriate group.

Preaching: Like most liturgical churches, we follow the Revised Common Lectionary which takes us through the Bible in three years. Pastor Parsons draws on the weekly lessons for the core of her message.

Worship: Worship is at the core of our relationship with God and we see the liturgy (which literally means, “the work of the people”) as our communal response of gratitude for God’s love in Christ. We cherish the great traditions of the church catholic and we explore new styles and ways of worshipping God. This means that you’ll experience a variety of worship opportunities at CTS: a traditional liturgical setting, formal services with incense and processions, services with jazz or rock music, African services with music from Liberia or Uganda and services written by our Confirmation youth. Please read the Worship page for an overview of services, both on Sundays and during the week.

Entering: When entering our church, a greeter will hand you a Visitor Prayer Request form. This form is a way for you to share some information about yourself and to invite you into the prayer life of our congregation. If there is something or someone for whom you’d like us to pray, we will include it in our daily prayer service. But don’t feel pressured to fill it out – it’s an invitation, not a requirement!

An usher will hand you a bulletin. You may sit where you wish, but feel free to ask the usher to guide you. Also be assured that you can turn to any of our members who will be glad to help you with any questions you may have during the service.

Order of Service: The outline of the day’s service is in the bulletin given to you by the usher; refer to it to follow the service and see what hymns we’re singing. Page and hymn numbers in the bulletin refer to the Evangelical Lutheran Book of Worship (ELW) that you can find in or near your seat. The readings and psalm for the day are typically printed on an insert in your bulletin.

Sharing the Peace: We are a warm and loving community and express this freely in sharing of the peace. Feel free to participate as you are comfortable.

Offering: At the Offering, you will see that rather than passing a plate or basket, we all go up to the altar whether or not we are actually presenting a gift! This ritual symbolizes that we offer ourselves to God’s work in the world. The usher will guide you and you can just follow the person who leads you out of your row. If you choose, you may leave an offering in one of the baskets held by the acolytes which supports the work of our church. Envelopes are available from the usher if you prefer to use one. The acolytes also hold small cans; offerings placed there go to the World Hunger Fund. Two larger baskets at the sides of the altar are for food donations which go to Gaithersburg HELP to feed those in need in our local community. On the first Sunday of each month, we bring fresh fruits and vegetables.

Communion: At the time of communion, we go forward and gather around the altar – thereby joining all the saints, living and dead, who surround the altar and share in the body and blood of Christ. Again, the usher will guide you. We typically use baked bread, except during Lent when we use wafers. Wine is offered in two chalices; you may either drink from the first or dip your bread or wafer in the second.

At Christ the Servant, everyone is invited to and welcomed around Christ’s table to receive the bread and wine in which, we believe, Christ is present for us. If you choose not to commune, you are invited to join us to receive a blessing; please cross your arms over your chest to indicate this. If you are interested in learning more about Holy Communion or CTS, please speak to Pastor Kari Parsons.

Sign of the Cross: At various times throughout the service, you’ll see some people making the sign of the cross. They are symbolically reminding themselves and the rest of us of their baptism and it is a quiet way to mark the sacrifice our Lord made for us on our very person. If you are comfortable, please feel free to do so at times indicated by a small cross (☩) embedded in the order of service.