No matter who you are, or where you are on life's journey, you are welcome here at University Congregational United Church of Christ. Young, old, sure of your path, or still searching --- we invite you to join us in imagining love and justice - as Jesus did - in acting to change the world.

We would love to welcome you at our in-person service each Sunday at 10 am. A digital service is also offered on line on Sunday evening at 5 pm. Our service is streamed on YouTube and Facebook. You will find the links just below this section on our home page. The weekly 5 pm service is  available on line after it is initially presented on Sundays..

We strive to walk in the path of Jesus, and to offer an authentic welcome to everyone who walks through our door or joins us online. If you are new to us, we would love to get to know you and answer your questions about our church, even if we cannot greet you in person. A member of our Welcome Committee, or a pastor, would be happy to correspond on email or talk with you on the phone. Click here to arrange for a meeting.

Our in-person worship service starts at 10 am and includes hymns, prayers, scripture reading and a sermon. It usually lasts about an hour and fifteen minute.. During the 10 am service we also offer live-streaming to a nearby room that offers those with compromised immune systems to be more isolated. We also offer a separate space for children, with supervised play and crafts during the 10 am service. Sections of the 10 am service are programed into the 5 pm digital service, which is offered as a "vespers."

Children are an important part of our community, and are welcome for all or part or the service.

UCUCC Parking Map

View for detailed Google Map.

Parking can be a challenge in the University District! Persistence, patience and an early start are keys to success.

UW has free parking on Sundays. Enter the main campus gate at NE 45th and 17th Ave NE and turn left past the toll booth. It's about a three-block walk to the church. The UW Meany Garage at 15th Ave. NE and NE 41st St. is a five-block walk.

The church also owns three parking lots - Lot A is across the street from the church on 16th Ave. E. Lot B is beneath Sortun Court, just north of the church on the east side of 16th Ave. E. (It closes at 2 p.m.) Lot C (for those with difficulty walking, young children and visitors) is at the corner of 15th NE and NE 45th St., next to the church.

If you need to be assured of a close parking spot, you can call the church office before noon on Friday to reserve one: 206-524-2322.

From time time we host lunches for people who are interested in learning more about our church and/or possibly becoming a member.  We are also happy to meet with you over coffee or at the church to explore and explain a range of topics about our church, from history, to theology, to membership. Click here to arrange a meeting with a Welcome Committee Volunteer or pastor or to set up a meeting and/or to learn when the next Welcome Lunch is planned.

Thank you for your interest in our church community.

We are an inter-generational church and strive to be family-friendly, with an active ministry for children and youth. All ages are welcome in worship. We also offer nursery and child-care, Younger children begin the 10 am service with us and usually leave after about 15 minutes. Older children have the option of leaving for a special sermon time. Junior high and high school youth meet at 9 am and then often sit together in worship. Give us a call at 206-524-2322 for more specifics or email Margaret Swanson, our Director of Children, Youth and Family Ministries..

Our programs for children and youth continue during this pandemic. Sign up at the bottom of the home page to receive our Children's Ministries and/or Youth Ministries newsletter.

Hearing Impaired: Our sanctuary has an induction loop system that uses the T-Coil mode of your hearing aids. You can get the necessary equipment just before entering the Sanctuary on the right or ask any usher.

Visually Impaired: We offer each Sunday's program in large print for easier readability.

Wheelchair Access: The front entry is wheelchair accessible as are the rest rooms. Please don't hesitate to ask for assistance.

For many of us, it’s hymns that stick in our heads and we sing them over and over, sometimes aloud and sometimes in our heads. But not me.

No, what sticks in my head are songs by James Taylor, Carole King, the Beatles or most recently: Kenny Rogers. Specifically, “The Gambler.”  (I highly recommend listening before reading on.) It was written by Don Schlitz so I deeply thank him but it’s gravelly voiced Kenny Rogers who made it come alive.

There are some deep truths in these lyrics and when I first started training as a chaplain, I thought of this song all the time. I had a strong need to connect with every patient. I hadn’t yet learned that it’s just not possible. That’s when the refrain, “Know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em,” planted itself in my brain. Over the years it’s come back to me in different situations and right now it’s on “repeat” in my head.

I think an exegesis of this song is in order and you’ll see how it squares with the same advice from Jesus.

Our story of The Gambler starts out like this:

On a warm summer’s evenin’ on a train bound for nowhere,
I met up with the gambler; we were both too tired to sleep.

 “Too tired to sleep?” That seems impossible and yet I’ll be a gambler and bet everyone  has been there for different reasons: tending to babies, new job, caregiving, anxiety or depression.

So we took turns a starin’ out the window at the darkness
‘Til boredom overtook us, and he began to speak.

Perhaps we stare out a window, but most likely we stare at the darkness—trying to sort out and make sense of our troubles. Boredom is our friend here. It’s when we have nothing to distract us that we begin to think about life’s bigger questions.

He said, “Son, I’ve made my life out of readin’ people’s faces,
And knowin’ what their cards were by the way they held their eyes.

I can relate to this verse. I’ve made my life out of reading not only faces, but also jiggling legs, clenched fists and hunched shoulders. And also sensing the energy in the room—not just hospital rooms, but also restaurants, libraries, Link trains and sanctuaries. We all have these skills to varying degrees.

So if you don’t mind my sayin’, I can see you’re out of aces.
For a taste of your whiskey I’ll give you some advice. “

This verse is just like the conversation where the medical team comes in and says, “We’re out of options. We can treat you, but we can’t cure you. We’re out of aces.” Or our love interest says, “I’m done with you.”  Often we know we’ve been out of aces for a while, but we’re in denial. So dying patients want more chemo, we stay in a dead-end relationship, we write another letter, we make another phone call, we try and try.

So I handed him my bottle and he drank down my last swallow.
Then he bummed a cigarette and asked me for a light.

 The Gambler asks for some “liquid courage,” some whiskey, before he gives his advice. This tells me it’s going to be hard to hear. And in the darkness, he asks for a light—or as I interpret it, a Light. I think that’s good counsel right there! Always ask for the Light, for some divine inspiration before giving advice. (And before taking it.)

And the night got deathly quiet, and his face lost all expression.
Said, “If you’re gonna play the game, boy, ya gotta learn to play it right.

 He’s talking about poker and he’s talking about life. If you’re going to live a life, then you have to learn to play it right. Think the Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes, Paul’s chapter on love.

You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em,
Know when to walk away and know when to run.

This is the hardest part of the advice and goes back to being in denial. When you’re out of aces, it’s time to fold ‘em. In life, if we’ve given it our best (medical treatment, relationships, jobs, communities) and there is no promise of change on the horizon, then it’s time to go. Time to fold ‘em.

This is what Jesus was getting at when he sent his disciples out to teach. Mark 6:11, “And whenever a village won’t accept you or listen to you, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave; it is a sign that you have abandoned it to its fate.” (The Living Bible)

In first-century Jewish culture, shaking the dust off your feet was the equivalent of saying, “I wash my hands of you.”

Here is The Message translation: “If you’re not welcomed, not listened to, quietly withdraw. Don’t make a scene. Shrug your shoulders and be on your way.”

Reading that translation made me rethink something I’ve written about here before. I thought we should have some kind of ritual for people who leave our community. I’ve changed my mind about this.

Besides writing a letter explaining the departure, why make a big deal of it? Those who have left have already offered their wisdom, their gifts, their opinions before deciding to leave. They knew it was time to fold ‘em, to shake the dust off their feet and move forward. Blessings upon them. I understand but I have to say, I really, really miss you. 

You never count your money when you’re sittin’ at the table.
There’ll be time enough for countin’ when the dealin’s done.

I interpret this to mean, be grateful but don’t spend your life crowing about your many accomplishments. Don’t be greedy. There will be time to count your triumphs, when the dealing—when life—is done.

The next verse is basically a reiteration of “hold’ em, or fold em.”

Every  gambler knows that the secret to survivin’
Is knowin’ what to throw away and knowing what to keep.

Knowing what to “throw away,” is not about simple decluttering, it’s about our very survival. Maybe we tried hard to stay involved, but now it feels like it’s killing us. We need to let go of what is killing us.

‘Cause ev’ry hand’s a winner and ev’ry hand’s a loser,
And the best that you can hope for is to die in your sleep.

Every hand is a winner or a loser, depending on how we play it. Some of us are dealt much better cards in life, some of us have the deck stacked against us, but our survival and our happiness depends on how we play the cards we are dealt.

And when he’d finished speakin’, he turned back towards the window,
Crushed out his cigarette and faded off to sleep.
And somewhere in the darkness the gambler, he broke even.
But in his final words I found an ace that I could keep.

 I believe the Gambler died in his sleep—he broke even! Even better, the listener recognized the value, the wisdom in the Gambler’s words. He found an ace he could keep. And so can we.

You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em,
Know when to walk away and know when to run.
You never count your money when you’re sittin’ at the table.
There’ll be time enough for countin’ when the dealin’s done.