New to Woodside? 

if you're thinking of visiting woodside,

We want you to feel at home right away. So we made a list of questions we might have if we were new. If these aren't your questions, please call or email or send a facebook message. 

When and where?

Our primary worship is 11 am Sundays. We're located at 1509 E Court Street, right next to Mott College.

i heard you were closing. 

Nope. Woodside has been around since the 1830s (before the 1960s, known as First Baptist Church), and expects to be around another century. It is true, however, that we've decided to sell our building and move to a smaller place -- a way for us to be more engaged in the community, and less tied up with building care. We don't know exactly when this will happen, but we'll do our best to make a big splash when the moment comes, so you don't miss any important news. Meanwhile, we are right here at 1509 E Court Street, and we'll look forward to welcoming you there.  

Will I be welcome?

Oh yeah. You can read it in our statement of belief. We welcome everybody! No exceptions. Woodside is enriched by our diversity. Our community includes white and black; straight, gay and trans; old and young; families, couples and singles; folks from a variety of religious backgrounds -- or none at all. Whoever you are, whatever your story, you're welcome here! 

Will I be embarrassed?

We won’t single you out or make you stand or bring you a boutonniere or Woodside pencil as a special gift. (However, we have pencils if you want one.)

Will I know what to do?

We think so. You’ll be greeted by an usher who will give you a worship bulletin. Most things are in there, but sometimes you’ll need to use a hymnbook.  

Will I be included?

Part of welcoming everyone means including everyone. Worship often includes holy communion, a meal of community, of remembrance, of renewal and grace. We invite everyone to join in without requirement of any particular theological understanding. The bread is gluten-free; the wine is alcohol-free; the meal is free. Practically nothing in there at all, we say, except the power of God to make us new.

Is anyone going to pressure me to join?
Will I have to sign anything?  

Sounds like you have concerns about being able to check us out without awkwardness. Please, count on it. We have people at Woodside who have worshipped for years without joining, and others who join after a few months. We do pass around attendance pads each week, but this is just so we can know who you are (and keep track of members). We’d love you to sign it, but there’s no requirement. (Pastor Deb likes to write notes to folks, and this is where she gets the contact info.)
Be prepared: someone will almost certainly invite you to coffee fellowship in the parlor after worship. Sometimes this is a full brunch, sometimes snacks. Conversation is good and people just enjoy visiting. Totally casual. New people have said they always feel comfortable here, and we hope you will, too. If you can stay, please do. If you can’t, we understand!

What’s worship like?

Sunday morning worship has a shape like this: welcome and prayer, which we sometimes read aloud together; a song; usually 2 readings from scripture; the choir often sings an anthem or we sing a song; Deb preaches for about 20 minutes, followed by a song or instrumental music; we gather an offering, sometimes read together a statement of faith, more prayers, Holy Communion, and another song. Everything you need to know is in the worship bulletin. And if you find anything that is confusing, we hope you’ll tell us, so we can make it better.

And music?

Our music is quasi-traditional, whatever that means. We use mostly piano and an acoustic guitar, sometimes other stuff. We have a small choir which usually sings. They rehearse on Wednesday evenings, but also gather before worship to practice for the day -- and include people who aren't available on Wednesdays. You’re welcome to join in!  

Is there an alternative to Sundays or anything happening during the week?

Ever get to the end of a Sunday worship and think "now what" or "i'd like to dig into that a little more"? Or maybe you just can't groove with Sundays (never or not yet). Daybreak is another interesting part of life at woodside -- a chance to explore our faith together in a challenging, safe environment... (read more here.)

Another cool thing is that Wildroot Cafe moved in. Woodside wants folks to feel comfortable and welcome, so we asked Wildroot to provide coffee on us, free to the community. You can find Chris and the others in our chapel (accessible from the main lobby or from a separate west entrance). Besides great coffee and a beautiful and peaceful space, there's also free wifi. Come and have a cup, hang-out, be yourself. Tuesdays through Thursdays, so far; we'll see where it goes from here.  

What accommodations can you make
for people with special needs?

  • For those with mobility challenges, we have cut-outs in the pews for wheelchair seating, and all the action in the sanctuary happens on the main floor. We also have accessible parking, a ramp entrance and separate restroom facilities. An elevator is available for activities and events in the lower level.
  • For those with hearing issues, we have personal receivers which connect you directly to the microphones; please ask the usher if you need this. We have also frequently offered an ASL interpreter for those who sign; if this is your need, please let us know and we'll do our best. 
  • For those with challenged vision, we have large-print editions of our worship folder, including all the songs, and we print everything in fonts shown to be easier for folks with dyslexia. Again, just ask the ushers.
  • For those with dietary restrictions, be aware that our holy communion is alcohol-free, gluten-free and nut-free. 
  • If you have some other need, please let us know and we’ll try to address it.  

Will I be dressed appropriately?

Yes. You’ll worship with people in jeans or suits, heels, tennis shoes or flip flops. Some wear hats. Pastor Deb wears a robe (which changes with the season); she usually wears Birkenstocks.  And she has been known to preach barefoot.  

Where do I go?

Some people think finding our parking lot can be a little like finding the bat cave. You can enter through the circular drive off Court Street and choose a parking space in the front; or you can come to the main parking lot in the back. To get there, either follow the circular drive around the building, OR turn north off Court Street onto Maxine, then take a left at Montclair, which looks like a private drive. It leads to our parking lot! There are two entrances there, one with a ramp. As you come into the building from the back, the lobby (“narthex”) and the sanctuary are to your left. If you enter from the front, you'll step directly into the main lobby. As you enter the sanctuary, there's usually a table with coffee. Please help yourself! 

What about my kids?

Children are, of course, welcome at Woodside, and we always try to make sure their needs are tended. We have Faith Exploration (what others might call "Sunday school") during worship during the school year, in response to parent input. Kids from infant to 6th grade will have classes while we worship; we have a licensed, professional teacher on staff, working with our younger ones. During summer, we have childcare available in the nursery. For special events, we offer professional child care, as needed. Just let us know. 

Is there Sunday school?

Yep, we have classes for children and adults, which we also call "faith exploration." (But we tend to go on hiatus for May, June, July and August.) While we are focused on teaching the stories of faith to the youngest participants, we want to help teens and adults ponder what it all means in their lives – exploring the edges of faith and discovering who we are as people of faith.

So, classes for kids are during the worship service, 11 am each Sunday September through Easter. For adults, we have several classes and forums at 9:30 -- and child care available during this time. For more info about anything education related, go here.

What if I’m not sure what I believe?

Welcome to Woodside! We believe that faith grows and changes, ebbs and flows. Wherever you are on your journey of faith, there’s likely someone here in the same place. We don’t have all the answers, but we like to say “if you’re searching for something, come to Woodside and we’ll help you look.” 

WHAt's with the red circle?

Back in the 1950s, when Woodside became Woodside (we used to be the First Baptist Church of Flint), and fair housing was a giant community issue, Woodside's pastor, Dr. Franklin Elmer, gave us what he called The Flag of Humanity. This simple flag, a red circle on a white field, has been carried in community demonstrations since then, on the front lines at Selma, locally in the fight for fair housing, anywhere there is a need for justice. It went to President Obama's first inauguration, and more recently to Standing Rock, to marches in DC, and somewhat regularly to Lansing! It's our symbol of our ongoing commitment to the common good. 

WHY DIDN'T PASTOR DEB ACCEPT MY
FACEBOOK FRIEND REQUEST? 

Please don't take it personally. Social media has put a new wrinkle in ‘relationship standard operating procedure’ for clergy. Pastors have always been urged and/or required to live by particular standards in developing relationships with congregation members. Among those rules for healthy pastorates, the need to keep clear boundaries between professional/pastoral and personal relationships. Pastors have individually been somewhat free to figure out what that meant, but all of us have had to reflect and determine what seems best to each. My practice for these nearly 30 years has been to avoid overlap between my congregation and my social circle. This has worked quite well. So, with the advent of social media, I and other clergy have had to set parameters for connections such as Facebook friendships. My own approach is not to have Facebook friendships with members of my congregation, with staff or interns currently working with me, or with anyone under the age of 18. I know some other pastors have different approaches; I respect that. But this system works for me. I just wanted you all to know, so that no one of you thinks I’m singling you out for rejection. Thanks. 

We don’t always get it right.

Sometimes our answers seem self-serving. Sometimes we’re in a bad mood (though not usually all at the same time). Sometimes we’re distracted by the wrong things. And sometimes we just don’t know what to do. People can be that way. But we keep trying. And we laugh a lot.

If you’re looking for a place to ponder faith, a place you don’t have to have it all together, a place to be yourself and build relationship with God, a community of grace, we’d like to be your place.