Ten years ago an adventurous group of fifty or so people formed Union Church, a missional community of University Presbyterian Church. We met in a space we rented on 10th and Union on Capitol Hill for Sunday worship, asking the question, “How can we live as the church – God’s called out and sent people in our city – as a blessing?”
Believing that worship is simply our response of loving our Creator, Redeemer and Guide with all of our being, in relationship with one another and with a passion for God’s beloved world, we experimented with our Sunday morning worship focus. One Sunday a month became devoted to dialogue encouraging people to view conversations with one another as acts of worship as they turn in to a circle of 6-8 and spend time listening to one another’s perspective on scripture, who God is, and who God invites us to be. One Sunday focuses on acts of service, believing that our response of living faith in community should not be a side project but central to our understanding of God’s character. We prayed about who we could partner with to love our city and suddenly saw doors open for opportunities of meal provision, environmental care, visitation and support in the larger community. For the remaining two or three Sundays we placed an emphasis upon teaching, singing, praying and breaking bread as we learn from Acts 2. We unearthed a rhythm of worship that was expressed in the weeks of the month; First and Third Sundays – Worship with Sacraments; Second Sundays – Worship with Dialogue; Fourth Sundays – Worship in Action. This rhythm of worship has become our “reality” of communally knowing and experiencing our Trinitarian God.
In 2010 we settled into our current home in South Lake Union (SLU), 415 Westlake. The streets were nearly empty as we prayed that God would pour grace upon the community to which we had moved. After exegeting the neighborhood, we decided that what was most needed in a space were a venue and a café where people could work, connect and where a cross-section of people from low-income housing to Microsoft, Amazon and PATH could mingle. The church community would share the space but the building would not be called a church. Fast forward now to a neighborhood that is pulsing with life. 36,000 people work in the neighborhood, almost a 50 percent jump just since 2009.