Welcome to Centenary United Methodist Church

Downtown Richmond, VA

Centenary United Methodist Church is a Reconciling Congregation, extending hospitality and encouraging full participation of all, regardless of age, race, national origin, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, marital status, educational or economic background, and physical or mental ability.

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This Week at Centenary

Join us for worship on Sunday, December 4 at 8:40 am (informal) and 11:00 am (traditional). Senior Pastor Matt Bates will preach "Don't Let Your Sins Keep You From Christmas" based on the scripture reading Matthew 3:1-12. 

Read our weekly newsletter here.

A Letter from our Senior Pastor, Matt Bates

Matt img 125005Dear Centenary Family and Friends,

For the Second Sunday of Advent, we meet John the Baptist. In some ways, he feels like an unwelcome intruder into this season of joy and cheer. He's like the relative at Thanksgiving dinner who brings up uncomfortable subjects that threaten to ruin the mood of harmony and goodwill you'd hoped would pervade the day.

John shows up in his clothing made of camel's hair, eating locusts and wild honey. And he doesn't tell the Pharisees and Sadducees, the leaders of his own tradition, how much they are admired and appreciated for the spiritual work they're doing on behalf of the people. He calls them children of snakes, tells them they need to repent of their sins and start bearing fruit that shows they've been changed by God's grace. It's not pleasant at all!

One writer points out that you have to admire John's courage. Most of us like to point out the sins of people who are at some distance from us geographically, politically, and theologically. I'm especially good at that. But John speaks the truth to the people closest to him, the people who guide and govern the very tradition from which his own faith is born.

That's a hard thing to do - to be honest about the sins and shortcomings of the people we love the most, the people of our own family, tribe, community, or nation. But do you know what is even harder? To consider all the ways we ourselves have sinned.

Now, I'm not trying to lay a guilt trip on you. Lord knows, many of us have spent much of our lives running from traditions that are very good at that. But the uncomfortable question John puts before each of us this Advent season is, "Where is my life out of synch with God's purpose? Where does my own self-centeredness still persist? Where am I resisting God's call to change inwardly or to serve outwardly?"

We often forget that the purpose of repentance is not to for us to assume a burden of guilt for our failings. Rather, repentance is the invitation to let go of attitudes and actions that stand in the way of us fully experiencing God's grace and presence. Repentance is the invitation to move from death to life, bondage to freedom, discouragement to praise.

It's appropriate for us to lament all the ways our world is out of tune with God's will and purpose and long for that day and time when Christ's presence overcomes every trace of injustice, violence, and evil. But it's also appropriate for us to consider the state of our own souls, to surrender the burden our own sinfulness creates, and to  believe that God is ready to set  us free and do something completely new in and through us.

I look forward to seeing you Sunday as we seek to open ourselves to the healing, transforming grace of God.



Weekly Services

Our weekly services are open to all, regardless of age, race, gender, or sexual orientation. We invite you to attend any of our weekly worship services and encourage your full participation.

  • Informal Worship Service: Sunday @ 8:40am
  • Sunday School (all ages): Sunday @ 10am
  • Traditional Worship Service: Sunday @ 11am

Childcare is offered during all Sunday services.

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Upcoming Events

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Get Involved

We offer several programs for children, youth, and adults. Our arts programming includes the visual and performing arts, as well as instrumental and choral music. These programs are open for all to participate and enjoy. Come be a part of this exciting and lively community!

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