“Spectrum of Faith” Ggathering: A Summary

A Summary on the March 26th “Spectrum of Faith” gathering…….

No one was really sure what to expect. About forty of us gathered in the dining room for lunch and then a time of “visioning,” of looking to find ways to share our “Spectrum of Faith” with the broader community. The tables were beautifully decorated, as was the sanctuary earlier (Thank you, Alice Davis!), and the food was terrific.

Rev. Beverly Prestwood-Taylor arrived just before 12:30, and we began shortly thereafter. We split up into pairs and took turns telling our conversation partner about a “peak experience” in our lives, a moment when we felt especially close to God, especially alive, full of joy and/or experienced transformation.

Then we talked about our church’s “Core Factors,” the ways in which people of Second Church are most engaged and energized. What is it that brings life to our church? What are the activities or events or gatherings that give abundant life to the church, without which it wouldn’t be the same? Responses included: outreach into the community, Caboose, music, pastor, people, our Communion Statement, welcoming of people regardless of spiritual background, welcoming community groups to use the building, and humor. There were many others.

Rev. Beverly then shared three pillars of growing churches in the 21st century. The first is Worship, particularly worship that is participatory, engages all the senses, blends ancient, old-fashioned, and contemporary, and is casual. The second is Outreach that is out in the world (not solely through donations of money), involves time, not “charity” but relational, and goes to where people are already. The third is Spiritual Growth, or spiritual practices that everyone can be involved with, rather than just those provided by the pastor.

Then we gathered in groups based on our interest in one of these three pillars and came up with ten specific ideas that not only address these trends in the 21st century, but are also compatible with the personality of our congregation. We wanted ideas that might truly work at Second Church. The list was amazing, and it is too lengthy to share here. Each group that developed a list then chose one option from the list to act out in a short skit. The skits were both meaningful and hilarious! (There is talk of sharing them in worship on the Sunday after Easter . . . )

Each of us then voted on one idea from each Pillar that we thought would be best for our church. Those receiving the most votes included having more contemporary music in worship and incorporating talent from our church in worship (Worship), finding ways to bring in existing members and others to special services (Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, etc.) and doing a labyrinth (Spiritual Growth), and picking one or two needs in the community and focusing our effort on them and having concerts or other musical events for the public (Outreach).

Finally, we sat in silence and pondered our own personal gifts and how God is calling us to use them. Each person who felt so called by God then put their name on the Pillar that they would like to help develop at Second Church (Worship, Outreach, or Spiritual Growth). If the number of names in each one is any indication at all, we have an exciting future into which God is calling us!

I have not been to any gathering at Second Church that was as meaningful, hopeful, enjoyable, and funny! The creativity, energy and engagement were terrific. Rev. Beverly could see what I’ve been enjoying for over eight years: this is a congregation that enjoys being together.

A summary will be written and shared at the next Executive Council meeting. A special thanks to Rev. Beverly Prestwood-Taylor for her superb leadership!