CC Faith UMC CU At Home

The Rev. Sheryl Palmer, right, pastor of Faith United Methodist Church, and volunteer Linda Hays work on a puzzle Wednesday with Dennis Irons, left, at C-U at Home’s Phoenix Drop-In Center.

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CHAMPAIGN — Looking for an unconventional worship service because traditional church just isn’t your thing?

Faith United Methodist Church in Champaign is partnering with C-U at Home, a nonprofit organization that helps the homeless, to offer a creative approach — a once-a-month evening service at the local men’s winter emergency shelter.

The community is invited to join them.

This new service will be, in part, another way for the church and C-U at Home to continue working together since the operation of the winter shelter for homeless men was transferred this year from the former to the latter, according to the church’s pastor, the Rev. SHERYL PALMER.

Plus, she said, “we’re being challenged by our denomination to come up with new ways to reach people and speak to people.”

Some churches have tried meeting in bars and restaurants to try to appeal to those who are uncomfortable in traditional worship settings, and that option was considered by her church, Palmer said.

But a service at the men’s shelter provides another opportunity for the church to continue to be available to shelter guests, she said.

“Now that we have turned the reins of the men’s shelter over to the great folks at C-U at Home after administering it the past three years, we are exploring new ways to be in ministry together and to reach out to our community,” she said. “And this monthly service is our first attempt at something new.”

Faith United Methodist has already remained involved with the men’s shelter and C-U at Home through a group of church members who volunteer each Wednesday afternoon at C-U at Home’s Phoenix Drop-In Center for the homeless, Palmer said.

The new service will be held at the Phoenix (70 E. Washington St.) on the first Monday of each month beginning next week.

Palmer said this service may appeal to not only those who would be uncomfortable worshipping in an established, traditional church but also to folks who are socially conscious and comfortable being in the midst of those less fortunate.

Services will be less about preaching and more about conversation and listening, Palmer said. Included will be some music, scripture, contemplation and discussions about life, and communion will be offered to anyone who is interested, Palmer said.

“We plan to hold this right in the middle of where the men sleep, and that’s part of it, to create a sacred space there,” she said.