Doing Brunch at Church

by Greg Syler on April 23, 2014

I'm not at all certain that church is competing with soccer, as I’ve heard it argued, or any number of Sunday activities (where, once upon a time, nothing was open or scheduled). Church, especially Sunday morning Christian worship, especially for young adults, I believe, is competing with the relationships in which people find meaning and their honest quest for peace. nday activities (where, once upon a time, nothing was open or

Exhibit A: Sunday brunch.

Sometimes breakfast isn’t just breakfast. It’s about who we want to be sitting down at table with. It’s about those relationships that matter and the ways people find peace and meaning, especially if both members of a couple are working and the week that looms ahead is way too stressful. I suspect the reason so many people and, especially, young adults are “doing brunch” every Sunday morning – and not “doing church” – is because they’ve found, at those tables, a community, a family, a source of refreshment which is not merely bodily.

At St. George’s, Valley Lee we offer breakfast on at least one Sunday each month. Obviously, it’s not such a new idea (people do tend to eat in the mornings), although the fact that a lot of us aren’t doing it may be one of the reasons people have such a hard time coming to worship on Sunday mornings. I’m not talking about coffee hour or nice people; that kind of goes without saying at churches (hopefully). I’m talking about a breakfast café, not just putting out food, a place with the same level of excellence and attention to people’s relational and spiritual needs as is found in those frequented brunch hot-spots, yes, on a Sunday morning, yes, in a church.

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Permalink  |  0 Comments Hospitality, Youth & Young Adults

Fifty Days

by Richelle Thompson on April 21, 2014

Easter Monday can be a drag.

I feel like the bunny in this picture. Our daughter inadvertently left her rabbit on the couch near a window while we went to church. When we returned, she found flat rabbit instead of chocolate bunny.

For many of us, and particularly for clergy families, Holy Week is a marathon of services. As always, the time is amazing, experiencing the passion and resurrection, but man, come Monday, I’m exhausted. And I don’t think it’s the post-candy letdown.

I wonder then how I can take the joy from Easter Day and let it fuel me through the fifty days of Easter. In many ways, Lent is an easier season to observe. There’s a push all through Lent to engage fully in the season. We talk about our Lenten disciplines of prayer, fasting, and study. Books offer daily meditations for Lent, and the church holds special workshops, We’ve given something up or taken something on, and we’ve followed Lent Madness like a hawk. 

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Permalink  |  0 Comments Christian Formation, Communications

Tell Me a Story

by Jeremiah Sierra on April 21, 2014

I’ve seen a lot of Tweets and Facebook posts about the atonement, recently. I find these somewhat interesting, but in an abstract, academic way. They don’t really stick. 

Earlier this week I came across an interview with poet and professor at Yale, Christian Wiman [link: ], who seems to have a similar experience. In it he says: 

"I seem immune to ideas that have no concretion to them. Most systematic theology—modern theology, I should specify, like Barth or Balthazar—just bounces right off the stone of my brain. I don’t mean that I don’t enjoy it—I do—but it seems not to stick with me in any meaningful way, seems ungraspable the minute I’ve closed the book.

"Embodied theology, though, ideas about God that have some music and physicality to them, ideas, that is to say, that aren’t primarily ideas—these sorts of works I understand and love and am able to carry with me in my life and faith."

I love ideas, and I think theology is important and useful, but I also find it easier and more interesting to connect to stories. 

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Permalink  |  0 Comments Prayer & Reflection

Ode to Copiers (and their Machines)

by Richelle Thompson on April 17, 2014

Most of us move through Holy Week reflecting upon the final days of Jesus, his death, and incredible resurrection. But for the few, prayers also beseech toners to stay full, rollers to track the paper, and jams to stay the stuff of Smuckers.

Church secretaries and volunteers have to prepare and copy about a gazillion extra bulletins this week. In addition, there are Easter lilies to order, Altar Guilds to organize, and priests to manage. For church staffs, Holy Week is tough. Add to that the expectation and desire to be thoughtful and reflective, to travel a spiritual journey through the final days of Jesus. It’s like trying to cram for finals and also write your memoirs. 

Here’s how you can help: gracefully overlook any typos. Call to see if you can help fold the bulletins. Don’t call to add a last-minute announcement. Send flowers or chocolate. Don’t make appointments to complain. Do thank them for their faithful work. And, if you really want to make a difference, pray the copier won’t die. If you’re unsure of what to pray, consider this prayer written by Father Tim Schenck of Lent Madness fame.

Ode to a Copier
A Prayer for Holy Week

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Permalink  |  0 Comments Prayer & Reflection

Wine and Design

by Erin Weber-Johnson on April 17, 2014

How can a congregation reclaim a sense of activism in the face of worry?

Cinda Lavely, ECF Financial Resources consultant, works with parishes wrestling with discernment. She writes:

“What can we do?” I hear this all the time, and with it comes a fog of worry – a bottomless question without a safe answer. Parishes are always confronted by the seeming vastness of their challenges, and know they must be inclusive in finding their solutions.

"St. Nicholas-on-Hudson in New Hamburg, New York, decided to bring this problem back to basics. While discerning what their parish was called be and how their building could best serve the congregation, it became apparent that their tiny undercroft could probably be redesigned to be more efficient and space-conscious. But there were a wide variety of ideas on how to use the space. 

"Their solution? The planning committee invited the parish to a night of “Wine & Design.”

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Permalink  |  0 Comments Stewardship, Vision & Planning

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