NEPTUNE – In a society filled with continual stimulation it is often difficult to disconnect and find a quiet place to be present in the moment. Hamilton UMC in Neptune Township is hoping to provide that place of solitude for many who may be seeking such reprieve with its Saturday Service of Sacred Space.
Offered on the first and third Saturday of each month at 6:30 p.m., it is open to all who wish to attend, according to Pastor Jessica Campbell.
“We live in such a fast-paced and stress-filled culture,” she said. “People long for a space to disconnect from technology and to just slow down from the busy pace of life. This service was started to provide a sacred space for people to be renewed and re-energized by being still and quiet. Through prayer, healing, candlelight, meditation, sacred music, and silence, people are given a comfortable way to center and reset.”
The concept for the service was initiated after a day-long visioning retreat in June 2016. At the retreat “it was lifted up time and again that people were hungry for meaningful spiritual growth and also an alternative time to Sunday morning worship,” said Hamilton UMC Music Director Maria Sottile. “Our desire is to establish this Saturday Service as both an alternative option for those who can’t regularly attend church on a Sunday morning as well as an alternative experience to our worship styles offered during Sunday morning services.”
Campbell added that attendance at the reflective service has ranged from six people up to 40 people. The 45-minute experience allows one to pause, slow one’s pace and sit in a quiet, peaceful atmosphere in the divine presence of God.
“When there is a specific issue, hardship, sadness or concern within local communities or perhaps a story in the news that captures our collective consciousness, we may focus our Saturday service on that theme. For example, we may focus a given service for those suffering the devastation of recent storms or at Christmas, this service is designed for those who are experiencing a solemn time during the otherwise festive holiday season. We would love to have people come and find a place that is welcoming, relaxed, and offers release and rejuvenation,” Campbell continued.
Sottile said that she has received much positive feedback from those who have attended the service.
“People have said that they feel ‘refreshed’ and ‘more relaxed’ after attending. As the music director I offer music that speaks to one’s heart and creates a serene background to the entire experience,” she said. “Most often our Saturday Service of Sacred Space is exactly that…an intentionally, non-cluttered 45 minutes of quiet time with God. As music plays, each one can come and go from the space freely, light a candle after a silent prayer and upon occasion, enter into a group experience such as guided meditation.”
Campbell believes that our society has sacrificed by obtaining technology that keeps us “connected” and “plugged in” on a twenty-four hour cycle.
“We need to re-claim our quiet time and create un-plugged moments for ourselves. Once you carve out a moment of time and devote that time to silencing all the sounds in your busy mind and pressing the ‘pause’ button on your hectic life to just be still…even for a moment…you realize how much you need this quiet time to regain your inner balance,” she said.
For more information go to www.hamiltonumc1.org. Hamilton UMC is located at 858 Old Corlies Ave. in Neptune Township, N.J.