Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
Who is the service for?
The Basic English Service (BES) was created for refugees, English as a Second Language students, and any other internationals whose difficulty with English sets up a barrier to full participation in the regular Church of the Servant (COS) services.
Between 60 to 90 people typically attend each week, and anyone is welcome. Some children from the congregation have enjoyed attending because this service is easier for them to understand than the regular service. Our first Basic English Service was held in April 2009.
When and where does the service take place?
The service starts Sundays at 11:00 a.m. in Room 4 off the café. A regular service takes place at the same time in the main worship space. Both services last about an hour and a quarter.
What is the service like?
In all parts of the service we use simple English vocabulary and short sentences. The service is less formal and more multi-cultural than the main service. We begin by learning or practicing new songs. The children and some adults play rhythm instruments to accompany our singing.
Instead of using paper liturgies and hymnbooks, we project the words of our songs and liturgy on a screen (along with images). Before the intercessory prayer, we have a time of sharing joys and prayer requests. We celebrate communion every Sunday. The service ends with participants joining in a circle and singing “My Friends, May You Grow in Grace.”
What is the mission/purpose of the service?
Church of the Servant desires to welcome, enfold, and disciple people of all cultures and language groups. In order to serve those who find the terminology and liturgy of the COS to be a barrier to full participation, a service in basic English is provided, including audio-visual elements, participatory prayers, and music.
The purpose of the Basic English Service is to reach out with encouragement, fellowship and edification for all who attend, in order to express the unity of believers and to embrace those not yet enfolded in Christ’s family. Through a variety of worship styles, art, and music, the worshippers are encouraged to believe, confess Christ as Savior and Lord, and become members of Christ’s church.
How diverse is the group?
Our international participants are primarily from Asia (e.g., Nepal, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia) and Africa (e.g., Sudan, Liberia, Congo, Rwanda). People of all ages come.
What is the relationship between this group and the larger COS body?
BES is a smaller, less formal worship service with an emphasis on simpler English and visual communication, but in many ways it is patterned after the larger service. Monthly joint communion services, shared celebrations of holy days, and celebrations of baptisms and professions of faith help unite the church membership. A new program, called Church Neighbor, is also intended to help integrate BES with the larger congregation.
Is there fellowship that extends beyond this service?
We’re learning and growing together. Some BES attendees have come to faith in Jesus Christ and have requested baptism, and we have provided classes to prepare them for this important step. An ongoing class known as “Our Faith” meets Sundays at 10:00 a.m. This group gives participants an opportunity to continue their education in the Bible and its teachings.
The Church Neighbor program pairs immigrants with other COS members to foster friendship and introduce newcomers to the larger congregational life. Shared activities, such as dining together and exchanging cultural information, help immigrants to feel welcomed and connected.
Are volunteers needed?
Yes! We need volunteer preachers, artists, and musicians. We need volunteers to be “church neighbors” for our attendees. We have an urgent need for transportation to and from services for some of our participants.
Who are the leaders?
The BES committee chair is Helen Bonzelaar. She shares the responsibility for coordinating the services with several committee members. We use the services of various volunteer preachers from within the COS congregation.