New worship service changes tune

Frigid temperatures Sunday morning, Jan. 7, did not deter scores of hearty church-goers from attending the first of a new worship service at Wilton Congregational Church. In addition to a traditional service at 9:30, the church introduced a more casual, music-oriented service at 11. It drew 81 people, which the Rev. Anne Coffman said was “great, considering how cold it was.”

The new Sunday service is an outgrowth of a service the church used to offer once a month on Saturday evenings. Although people enjoyed the service, attendance began to decline.

A task force was implemented in the fall of 2016 to investigate, and it concluded people preferred going to church on Sunday mornings. It suggested a second Sunday worship. The 10 a.m. service was moved up to 9:30 to allow for another at 11.

“We in no way want to take away from our original service,” Coffman said, but surveys indicated a more casual, musical service would attract people who might otherwise not attend church.

The earlier service, she said, tends to be a bit more formal, with a choir, songs from the hymnal, and people more likely to dress up. The second service is led by a worship band with guitars, drums, and other instruments. People tend to wear jeans and bring their coffee. “Not that we don’t allow coffee at our earlier service, but people just don’t bring it,” Coffman said. The second service is also a little shorter, at about 45 minutes.

It will take time to figure out who the constituencies are for each service, and so Sunday school and child care will be offered for both services. High school and middle school students may sit in the balcony with the director of youth ministry. The 11 o’clock service is planned for every Sunday, although there may be a schedule change in the summer, Coffman said.

“We have a body of about 10 people that make up the worship band,” Coffman said. The band is led by Joan Wallace, and some of the regulars are John Taylor, John McNeil Johnston, Kenny Mercer, and Brad Scheller. While the performers may rotate, Coffman expects there will always be singers and someone playing drums, guitar and bass each week.

“We are real excited about this,” Coffman said. “We invite people to bring their coffee, bring their kids, and enjoy.”

Information: 203-762-5591.