Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Early Winter News From Your Home Church

The Early Winter White Spire is out. You can download it in pdf and read it on-line.

It contains all the heresies that are fit to print including our Christmas/Solstice schedule, my worship guide for the season of Winter, the via creativa, and other newsy items about your favorite tree-hugging church in the woods.

We will be welcoming new members on January 9th, so I thought I would use that opportunity to share my thoughts about our congregation's place in the cosmos. This is From the Pastor's Computer:

Dear Friends,

On Sunday January 9th we will be welcoming new members to our congregation. John and Jennifer Gardiner, Gerald Tolley, and Jo Wyckoff have indicated that they will join our congregation on that day. If you would like to join them in joining us, well then, let me know at johnashuck [at] embarqmail [dot] com. After worship, the deacons will prepare a reception for us.

About three times a year we have a Sunday to welcome new members. It consists of having someone introduce you to the congregation during worship. There is no exam. No hazing rituals. So why join? What is the point? Joining does allow one to become an officer in the church and to vote at congregational meetings. That is probably not that big of a deal. There are a number of folks who attend but never join. That is fine. What I really think is important is for folks to participate, whether one is an official member or not.

I do think that joining does indicate a willingness to stand with a community through thick and thin. It indicates a willingness to be part of a community with shared ideals and to support that community as it carries out its work. We hope and expect that members will support our work with their time, talent, and treasure. In turn as connections are made, folks may find that the community will support them as well. Friends will be made, fellow travelers in whom we can confide and share our joys and struggles. Becoming a member is saying, “I believe (for the most part at least) in what you all are doing and I want to put my name on it.” We are looking for folks who are ready to offer what they have to make a more compassionate world.

In many ways we are a typical congregation. In other ways we are not. We don’t make a big deal about doctrine, dogma, or creeds. Someone once quipped that we are BYOG (bring your own god). Our roots are in the Jesus tradition but we find value and seek wisdom from other faiths as well as from the store of human wisdom as expressed in the arts and the sciences. We are located within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). We appreciate and engage with that tradition even as we push back at it.

We are affiliated with The Center for Progressive Christianity and the United Religions Initiative. Creation Spirituality as articulated by Matthew Fox and others has made a big impact on our life together. We are informed by historical Jesus scholarship such as found in the Jesus Seminar and others who are helping us redefine a faith for a new millennium.

We are active and outspoken regarding environmental justice, economic justice, social justice, and peacemaking. We are a More Light congregation that advocates in word and deed for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. We are all these things because people have BTOG (brought their own god) to the mix. To use that old Presbyterian standby: “we are reformed and always being reformed.”

We are also folks who get together to enjoy a good potluck and some good tunes. We like music and hope you’ll add your voice to our critter choir. We are nothing special here. Just Earthlings. In time you will find that we have all the same struggles, doubts, foibles, and inconsistencies as you’ll find with any group. We try to challenge each other to be real. Spending time together is good for that.

You will find a lot of talent and creativity here. We welcome your talent and creativity. I think we try to be a “permission giving” congregation. What I mean by that is that we won’t burden your creativity with a whole lot of red tape. If you see a need and think you might have a way to address it and would like to use the building, we will likely give you permission. Unless it goes directly against who we are or if it looks like your activity might burn down the place, we’ll probably give you the OK.

If you want to host a concert for a benefit, start a healing ministry, take on a social justice cause, we will give you the space, help you print up a flier, and give you the spiritual mojo to get going. What we are less likely to do is do it for you. So if you have a good idea and that good idea means that some other alpha male or alpha female has to do it, it probably won’t happen. You are your own alpha.

I hope you will find fellow travelers here. I hope you will take the initiative and keep reaching out to make friends. We won’t invade your privacy. We won’t push. If you don’t show up for a while we probably won’t call you. But if you have done the work to make friends here, they might. In many ways we are kind of like a bar or tavern. We won’t make friends for you, but we will create the space so you can do that important work. If you see something missing in our community, come talk to me, and maybe I can offer some resources so you can create something new. For my part, my door is open. You can reach me and find an empathetic ear.

Not everyone likes this kind of church. Some folks want a church where they can “be fed”. There are many feeding troughs around that will take care of that. We might encourage you instead, to hunt. You’ll be challenged here to think. Rather than prop up your faith, we might instead take a few whacks at it so you can build up a stronger one. Rather than give you Sunday School answers, we will invite you to ask adult questions. We think the joy is in the struggle and the quest.

If this sounds interesting, give me a call.

Blessed Be,
John

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