• Urban church life and outreach
• A rector works toward the congregation’s vision for its mission
• A hiker’s mission in leisure – re-creation
• “Make a Difference” – excerpts from a sermon of 11/14/04 on mission in daily life
• Sunday at Church X for folks with little church background – member mission “by any other name smells as sweet”
• Neil Elliott’s articles on “Reclaiming the Christian Just War Tradition” and “The Just War Criteria” – wider world
• Dr. Phil for mission at home
• The Richest of Fare: Seeking Spiritual Security in the Sonoran Desert by Phyllis Strupp – spirituality
• Sermons: “Coping with Two of Today’s Temptations” to set a context for member mission and “Member Missions – the Next Step in Mission” to introduce member mission
• A spirituality of power
• Loren Mead
Urban church life and outreach
Mary Ann (see WTMATM, pp. 87-92) had made sure that all the nearby children were welcome as part of the vacation Bible School at St. Luke’s and All Saints Church in Union, New Jersey. That openness caught on in the congregation as a whole. The current part-time Filipino priest finds it easy to connect with Filipino residents and help them find their way into the congregation’s worship and life. The congregation continues its community service. Four times a year, members staff the cooperative ministry of housing for the homeless. One member coordinates a “furniture assistance program” that picks up and stores used furniture for people who need it. Two rented storage sheds as well as the church basement are filled. Recently, fifty boxes of used clothing were picked up and distributed. Apparently, visitors like to see community concern and stay. Sunday congregations have increased from 15 to 35.
Contact: Mary Ann Samila, 617 Salem Road, Union, NJ; 07083-9413; 908-686-7317
A rector works toward the congregation’s vision for its mission
Mary Martin, rector of St. John’s, San Bernardino, CA, was asked to help with the visioning section of the coming workbook. She commented: “I have a dream that St. John's can become an iconic place, with a congregation that reflects all classes and colors of the children of God.” Presently, she sees the congregation picking up three of the daily mission fields as a church.
1. Building up our sense of community as a congregation, paying special attention to our longtime members who may feel neglected (our mission field of church); particularly as we expand our ministry to the Spanish speaking in our midst.
2. Serving our homes by strengthening our visiting of shut-ins (our mission field of home).
3. Serving our local community through continuing to strengthen our ministry with the children of the neighborhood and their families (our mission field of local community).
Then, a first try at wording a vision might be: “We seek to grow as an ethnically diverse and all-inclusive church family; to build up home life, especially for our older members and shut-ins; and to serve all the children of our community and their families.”
That would be the heart of it to be framed by words of our faith such as:
“To live out our baptismal covenant now and in the near future, we believe St. John’s is being called to grow as a church family; to nurture our longtime members as we are welcoming to all the diverse people who live in our community; to build up home life, especially for shut-ins; and to serve all the children of our community and their families.”
[The first step in a developing a congregation’s vision / purpose / mission statement is for the clergy person to begin with a process similar to Mary’s above. Next, comes sharing and revising it with the official board; after that, with the congregation. Incidentally, the Diocese under Bishop Bruno has sent a man, who speaks Spanish and who is going to be ordained to the priesthood in two weeks, to start a ministry with the Spanish speaking.]
: The Rev. Mary S. Martin, St. John’s Church, 1407 N. Arrowhead Ave., San Bernardino, CA 92405; 909-889-1195; email@example.com
A hiker’s mission in re-creation – leisure
Here you see Bruce Stephan, at dusk, trying on a pack for a future hike - Lake Champlain and the Green Mountains behind him.
Bruce Stephan of Essex, New York says: “Hiking gets me out onto God’s green earth. From a mountain I see all things not built by people but as God gave them to us. And it is great to share nature with friends as we hike . . . Hiking gives me a chance for meditation and reflection and a chance to say thank you to God. God is showing me how beautiful the world is so I can show others.”
|Bruce manages the NY office of a project management consulting firm that provides services to large public projects like the new $2 Billion World Trade Center Transportation Hub that soon will be rising like a phoenix from the ashes of the Trade Center bombing. Bruce has a special affinity for the site, and quite a good reason to thank God. Both he and his wife were on high floors of separate towers of the Trade Center on 9/11. They did not find out that they both survived until late in the afternoon that day. More. Remember the car hanging from the edge of the roadway after the Oakland earthquake. Bruce was the driver who found he could climb out to safety and went back to bring his passenger to safety as well
“Make a Difference” – excerpts from a sermon on 11/14/04 on mission in daily life
We [St. Anthony’s] are the homeland for the missionaries of this church . . . the missionaries are you and me and our mission field is where we live . . . in our homes – that can be the most challenging of mission fields at times with our loved ones, in our neighborhoods, in our work place, in the wider world . . . where you and I can make a difference . . . by choosing to be different in Christ.
As you know, we lost Julie’s [his wife] sister, Mary, to breast cancer . . . You noticed Julie’s new hairdo a few months ago. She had very long hair and suddenly it was much shorter . . . She had donated her hair to a place that makes wigs for cancer patients because Mary had lost her hair. The mission field was not in Africa but our home . . . The mission of Jesus Christ is not about spiritual enlightenment. It is about engaging the powers and principalities of evil, sin, and injustice and bringing Jesus’ victory into the world. Mary faced the evil of cancer and we faced it with her . . . Someone gave us a prayer quilt for Mary – a quilt sewn with Mary’s name on it and all the sewing done with prayers . . . She wept over it because it was rose colored and she loved roses . . . and she died with that quilt – covered in prayer . . .
We joined her in the battle and Jesus joins us as you and I encounter evil, disease, sin, suffering, and injustice in our homes, in our neighborhoods, in our work places, in the wider world. Jesus invites us into the campaign. The stewardship campaign you have been hearing about has to do with your and my opportunity to support the homeland . . . where we go to find the support, the strength, the guidance that we need to be the kind of people who make a difference. The world is full of people who are not making a difference. You and I can be just like that. Or, we can make a choice to be a part of a community that is making a difference by choosing to be different in Jesus
: The Rev. Jonathan Coffey Jr., Rector, St. Anthony on the Desert, 12990 East Shea Blvd., Scottsdale, AZ 85259; p:480-451-0860; f: 480-451-4413; firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday at Church X for folks with little church background – member mission “by any other name smells as sweet”
“To make the most of daily life and work – powered by God” is the purpose of Church X, a new church plant located in the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts. Note its spirituality: to be “powered by God for life and work.” About 50-60 people of all ages came to three orientation sessions for “a new church in the Boston area for unchurchy people” last February. “X” is used because the name has yet to be chosen. The congregation expects to use only rented space and not own real estate. The “worship gathering” is alternate Sundays at 10:30 am. “Team meetings” – for planning and further training – come the Sunday between at the same time. Starting in January, the “worship gathering” will be weekly with the “team meeting” held the hour before, 9:30 - 10:30 am. Sunday congregations have averaged about 30 people during the “pre-opening” phase.
With a special eye on 20 - 35 year olds with little church background, worship is patterned on the Episcopal Prayer Book and mixes hymns and contemporary songs accompanied by an electric guitar, a bass, drums, and, sometimes, a cello and flute. After the readings, the children meet for Godly Play and the youth meet for a discussion group. For adults, sermon time is an illustrated talk, a presentation using PowerPoint that includes back and forth time for examples or responses for about 20 minutes. During this time, people are free to use response materials – play dough, clay, sketch pads – which will be placed on the Table as part of the offering. Then come ten minutes or so of spontaneous break-out groups of three, four, or five people discussing two or three questions. The first question is always “If you made an art thing, what is it and what does it mean to you?” Next, a musical selection allows time for reflection before communion.
Every second worship gathering, the illustrated talk time begins with an interview. The pastor asks a member chosen beforehand: “What’s your work – whether paid or not?” “What challenges and opportunities do you face?” “How does your faith help you?” “How can we pray for you?” Then that person is commissioned along with anyone else on a similar path in life who comes forward.
How did the pastor, Will Messenger, come to propose such a church? Will teaches faith and ethics in the workplace at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He saw two needs that he was not meeting. First, classes and seminars did not provide the ongoing community that genuine transformation requires. At Church X, the Sunday morning break-out groups begin to provide such community. Second, Sunday worship should be as much about getting equipped for daily life and work as it is for getting equipped for church. The illustrated talk at Church X connects what is said with life as a worker or a parent or being socially active. The monthly interview described above connects faith and life even more.
All this is surely member mission! Will comments: “The mission of the church is carried out by the members. The primary purpose of the gathering is to equip the members for mission as well as to worship God.” Of keen interest to MMNews
is the focus on God’s power
. A flyer uses parts of an arrow to diagram life at Church X with “Powered by God for life and work” as the point of the arrow – the point of all that’s done being to live and work powered by God.
: Will Messenger, Pastor, c/o 84 Lexington Street, Belmont, MA 02478; 617-489-8768; email@example.com
. [For a full worship service with the words used, visuals, and the sermon in Adobe Acrobat or MS PowerPoint, send a request to firstname.lastname@example.org
’s articles on “Reclaiming the Christian Just War Tradition” and “The Just War Criteria” from Episcopal Peace Witness, Pentecost 2004 are useful resources for groups exploring this pressing issue in the wider world – especially, in the season of “peace on earth.” Download copies from the website after 12/10/04 at www.episcopalpeacefellowship.org
and to Episcopal Peace Witness Newspaper on drop down menu. Or call 312-922-8628 or write EPF, 637 S. Dearborn, Chicago, IL 60605-1839.
: Christmas season’s highlighting of children and families is probably a good time to commend the immensely popular Dr. Phil. You’ll find him daily on the networks; in bookstores; even on NBC’s Today show answering questions from folks in distress. His insights are clear and usable; and his backup of those he works with is most generous. He can be a good resource for mission at home
. See www.drphil.com
for resources of all kinds.
The Richest of Fare: Seeking Spiritual Security in the Sonoran Desert by Phyllis Strupp (Sonoran Cross Press, 2004). An “apostle for the desert,” Phyllis weaves her love of and inspiration from all of the desert’s flora, fauna, and scenes with biblical insight, history, philosophy, science, and literature. The result as an ever so rich tapestry that draws you on from scene to scene, from page to page. As a Bible student myself, I found her biblical references both apt and suggestive. Her book does, indeed, nurture one’s spirituality. [AWS]
Sermons: “Coping with Two of Today’s Temptations” set a context for the first adult forum on member mission which followed the liturgy at St. Peter’s Church, Cheshire, CT; First Sunday in Lent, 2/29/04; based on Luke 4:1-13. “Member Missions – the Next Step in Mission” introduced Sunday congregations to member mission as part of a weekend of church-wide orientation to member mission at St. Anthony on the Desert, Scottsdale, AZ; Last Sunday after the Epiphany, 3/2/03; based on Mark 9:2-9. Both sermons were preached by the Rev. A. Wayne Schwab and are found on the web site at Making the Vision Work > Sermons.
FOR MEDITATION -- a spirituality of power
Perhaps, Church X and Will Messenger go to the heart of the Gospel for you with a spirituality of being “powered by God for life and work.” They look beyond the gifts of unconditional love and forgiveness to what may be God’s greatest gift – the Holy Spirit, the power at work in Jesus Christ is now shared with us. “The reign of God has [indeed] come near” (Mark 1:15b).
[Let Loren Mead’s email ignite a spark in you to write about member mission!]
I have been remiss -- I keep meaning to tell you how helpful I think your newsletter is. More than “helpful” -- encouraging. I am continually depressed by how the church keeps missing the point about all its activity. It isn’t about budgets and programs and planning and all that -- it’s about helping ordinary people do ordinary things that have extraordinary meaning -- because they are, in “religious” terms, sacramental. Ordinary things that carry extraordinary meaning. It’s not about orthodox thinking or being “right” about this or that issue. It’s not about what others do or think or believe. Your newsletter is one of the few places that I find that affirmed and supported. Thanks.
* * *
God is most interested in how we live from Monday to Saturday.
Sunday – all of church life – helps us to do it better.
* * *