MEET YOUR TEAM: The Innovative Ministries Team

Team Meeting @ Farmhousewritten by: The Innovative Ministries Team

What if we could engage with the wider body of the church in a way that we never thought was possible? What if we, the prophetic people, took advantage of our ability to work with the Spirit, moving forward as a people of faith into the unknown, to face the challenges of our time?

Well, we can!

The Community of Christ is in a unique place right now. Autumn and spring are happening simultaneously. As we speak, the World Church (International Headquarters) is dealing with an issue where our income is not matching our intended mission plan. Consequently, we are bunkering down to weather the storm with cuts to staffing and intentional missional work. However, at the same time, we are seeing God work in amazing ways through new and exciting opportunities. We do not feel that one needs to be fixed before the other taken care of. We believe that spring can happen (and does happen!) whilst parts of the church take care of financial matters.

Traditions, culture, our global nature and ideological differences all lead us to different places. Does this mean change should not occur? No. This just means we need to work harder to ensure we move forward together.

Innovative Ministries Team retreatOver the coming weeks and months, the Innovative Ministries Team (formally the Young Adult Ministries Team) is moving forward in spring. Moving for change. We are working hard to ensure that new and exciting endeavours are seen as ways we can accelerate growth. Growth not only in discipleship and faith, but also in providing further opportunities to give. We know that if young adults are not intentionally engaged, we will not always respond. Our lives are complex and multi-faceted. We need to prioritise more than ever before where our 24hrs in a day goes. Unfortunately, this includes our spiritual lives.

So, what does this mean for us?

We, the Innovative Ministries Team, believe that there is a way to engage the church in missional and relational change that can “move the church forward to a place of significance” (priority) in the lives of young adults. This change requires us to risk. However we believe that inaction (or being focused solely on the autumn stage) is a bigger risk to the life of the church. We want to engage with the wider body! We want to ensure that we do not leave tradition and history behind, rather using it as our platform for faithful action.

Our team has developed a purpose statement that we believe will drive us (and you) towards positive, creative action:

By providing a resource of support and creative thought, we aim to inspire new expressions of meaningful communities.

We create opportunities for positive change that move the church forward to a place of significance while acknowledging our tradition and community identity.

We advocate for young adults and for opportunities that empower their visions and passions, resulting in a broader dialogue between diverse populations and church leadership; critical to the success of the Community of Christ.

With leadership development as a core value, we will provide experiences that develop individuals to serve through skills training and personal growth opportunities.

– Innovative Ministries Team (2014)

This is who we are. This is the change we want to see. This is the spring we are experiencing and the hope for the future, the summer, we are anticipating! We hope this reflects what you want to see in your community, too. We want to do this WITH YOU.

Come with us on this journey.

Follow what we’re up to, share posts, thoughts, comments, and ideas – and most definitely contribute your own.

This is OUR initiative. This is OUR community!

Facebook.com/CofChristYoungAdults

Twitter.com/CofCYoungAdults

yaministries@cofchrist.org

 

Peace Colloquy Prayer Retreat

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POVERTY: GOD WEEPS #godweeps #PC2014

  • Learn how our inner lives impact our actions in the world
  • A deep spiritual life gives us courage to face issues of injustice
  • Discover what it means to draw closer to a God who weeps over needless suffering

This year’s Peace Colloquy Prayer Retreat will be an opportunity for those who have a passion for justice and a desire to grow deeper in God’s Spirit. It will be a day of spiritual practice and renewal. We will be focusing on how global poverty and our own spiritual lives are intricately connected as humans living on an interconnected planet. You are invited to join us as we prepare for a weekend of formation about what matters most to the God who weeps. If cost is an issue, please contact Katie Harmon-McLaughlin.

What:             Prepare to experience “Poverty: God Weeps” with this pre-event prayer retreat to focus on the importance of connecting our spiritual formation with justice and peacemaking.

When:             pre-event from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Friday, October 24

Where:           Community of Christ Walnut Gardens Congregation, 19201 R. D. Mize Road, Independence, Missouri  64057

Registration:  Pre-registration is required and opens in August. Cost will be $45 if you register by September 24, $60 after September 24.

Join the Facebook event here

For more information, contact:

Katie Harmon-McLaughlin, Spiritual Formation Ministries, khmclaughlin@cofchrist.org

Shalom Place: Spiritual Practice at IYF 2014

By Katie Harmon-McLaughlin of Wickliffe, Ohio, USA
Re-blogged from: Daily Bread

Be still, and know that I am God!  — Psalm 46:10 NRSV

 

8-29aThree teenage girls moved attentively and reverently through the spiritual practice stations in Shalom Place during the International Youth Forum (IYF) at the Temple in Independence, Missouri. They did not chatter, but participated, eager, in each practice invitation. I watched them deliberately tie knots into string and then run their fingers slowly over it as they engaged in a form of the examen practice. It seemed like they were searching for something, and they were doing it together. With the murmur of activity just outside, something of Spirit drew them into this quiet, still place.

I held each of them in prayer. I was curious about the experience they were having. I wondered what these moments at IYF would mean in their spiritual development as disciples of Jesus Christ. How was the Spirit forming within them in that very moment as they held string in their fingers and bowed their heads in prayer?

I glanced over at the Expressions of God wall and smiled at the phrase someone had written, “She’s awesome!” I noticed electric candles flickering at the Holding in the Light station and prayer request cards in the basket. Each day I read the concerns and held them in the light of God’s healing love. Staff and campers shared issues of identity, health, relationships, and desire for God-connection. I am in awe at the ways our lives come together in these shared sacred spaces—untold stories and concerns and hopes intermingling as vulnerability beckons.

All week at IYF in Independence, Missouri, Shalom Place served as a space of prayer, practice, and rest. I was impressed by the responsiveness of those who volunteered as a presence to our youth during this transformational experience in their lives. People responded as though being available to our youth and holding them in prayer was a sacred privilege. They generously offered their time and prayer to the youth and staff that came in seeking God in the form of a new practice, a moment of silence, or the yearning for a deeper conversation. Words of blessing from evangelists hung around the room embracing the youth in a spirit of love and care. People from nearby and far away, sent beautiful words of support and guidance, and held our youth in prayer.

I am grateful to the IYF team for making spiritual practice a priority by designating this space. My prayer is that this time in the life of our youth will continue to awaken them to the God who is always present and inviting them to experience and live Christ’s peace.

Prayer for Peace Listening God, we whisper, and you hear us. We cry out in pain, and you hear us. We sit in lonely silence, and you hear us. We praise you with thankful hearts, and you hear us. Hear our answer to your call for peace, “Here I am, send me.”

Spiritual Practice: Prayer of Examen Spend a few moments recalling your day. If it is morning, recall yesterday. Let all the details, events, and conversations drift through your memory. Offer gratitude for the day and pray that you might be aware of how God was present with you. What did you notice or feel that brought meaning? As you review your day, pay attention to the times you could have been more Christ-like. Offer a prayer of confession, seeking forgiveness for the times you were unaware or potentially caused harm to yourself, others, or creation. Pay attention to the moments your life was in harmony with God’s vision for creation. Pray that you will be even more aware the next day of God’s presence with you and opportunities to respond to that presence. Amen.

Peace Covenant

Today, God, I will ask local IYF attendees to tell their stories, and I will listen. Or go to the church’s website and see the photo gallery at http://www.cofchrist.org/iyf/.

The Messiness of Oneness

Photo by: Noela Inions

Photo by: Noela Inions

(Written by Erica in October 2008)

I’ve been blessed to participate in a thriving and mission-driven Community of Christ congregation. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I began to have some doubts.

Years ago, a small group of disciples recognized a need in their community. They recognized their own giftedness and skills that could help, and they bravely explored a call to minister to their community in a new way. Church for them began to take a whole different shape. They had to rethink what church would look like in order to serve their mission. As they sought to follow God’s unfolding call, they darkened doors of opportunity and met the challenges of ministry that those opportunities held.

It was not a simple or easy process to become a community shaped by God’s call. It was not a quick process. But gradually it became the congregation that I attend today. It’s a ministry that touches lives every day. And it creates disciples.

Not too long ago, the group convened a business meeting. After a weekly worship service, we gathered with our usual casual atmosphere.  But when the meeting began we realized that the business we would be discussing was much more than “casual”.  We would be dealing with issues that hit right at the core of the congregation.

You see, over the last few years, as the congregation has followed God’s lead, little by little we have grown! Our vision was expanding. We were succeeding! Now we were discovering that if we were to continue to grow, it could require substantial change.

So in that business meeting we began to envision the future for our ministry. We were faced with some questions. They cut to the heart of who we are, our identity.

What do we call ourselves?  Why?

To whom do we choose to minister?  What does this mean for our mission?

Where do we meet to accommodate that mission?

What would we be willing to change in order to grow?  Is change really necessary?

One by one, members – long-time congregants and new participants – offered their hopes, ideas, and concerns to answer these questions. As you would imagine, these are issues with a lot of history.  Some had built this ministry with years of dedicated love and effort.  Some felt a strong responsibility for the future of the congregation. Everyone held deep love and concern for this community as it is and as it will be.

As each of us layered our perspectives on this issues…as the meeting stretched on…and a sense of urgency mounted…tension grew.  Tempers shortened.

We struggled through the process as gently as we could, but we were not approaching answers. The tension continued to rise.

Finally at one point, in the intensity of the discussion, one person accidentally misspoke. A comment was made that was received as hurtful. The tension reached its limit. We burst into a small confusion of frustration, disappointment, and bruised feelings. One person stormed out. The agenda was lost in the need to care for those who felt injured and to clean up the mess the meeting had created. We decided we would have to come together again to approach these big questions. And again. And again.

But in that moment many in the room were left feeling unsettled, unfinished, embarrassed, offended, worried.

What is this?!  This is supposed to be sacred community!

Then one long-time member who has served as a mentor for many, including me, stood. “Let’s close with a prayer.” He motioned for us to all to form a circle and link our hands. And he prayed.

He acknowledged that each of us are fragile and imperfect creatures, trying our to serve in the best way we know how. He thanked God for the blessed community we have had the joy of building. He thanked God for the deep concern and love each one has for the welfare of this ministry, and those it is called to serve – though our ideas and experiences may be different.

Above all, he thanked God for the unifying love we all share in our collective discipleship of Jesus Christ. Finally, he thanked God for the hope we have together in the God’s continued and faithful ministry through our community.

As that prayer concluded, a spirit of peace rested in the circle. The wounded emotions and frenzied concerns of the congregation were soothed. We could see again that our stumbles and disagreement were far less important than our unity and hope in Christ. God’s presence among us would heal the brokenness that would come when we stretched our community in search of our mission.  And in fact, to be faithful to God’s call into the future it would be necessary for our community to meet the messy challenge of discussion, discovery, conflict, and confusion. Even in the moments of discord God was forming us into a community that could best reflect God’s will.

Our challenge was – and is – to recognize Christ’s unifying presence in the midst of the journey. And to let Christ be guide to us all on the path.

Article Reflection: Asking Supportive Questions

good intentions

More than a handful of times, I’ve had this conversation:

“Are you married?”

I respond, “No, I’m not.”

They respond, “Oh, don’t worry. You will be.”

And I’m left standing there, awkward and somewhat speechless.
All of a sudden feeling insecure about my life choices.

The backhanded compliment.

How do I respond to that? … Thanks?

 

Sometimes, I think, people ask questions with good intentions. But sometimes I wish they would think through their “intentions” a bit more to how they make the other person feel.

Maybe they didn’t intend to patronize my life choices, but I can’t deny, it’s how it made me feel.

This article, by Amanda Bast, was shared with me by a friend. I think many of you can likely relate to her thoughts.

And, it’s not just about our relationship status.

Recently, a good friend of mine wrote a letter to some of her church leaders, expressing similar sentiments but on an entirely different topic.

She wrote about how their young adult group had been facing a great deal of conflict and resistance to their efforts to engage in the church community. Not because their efforts were bad or seen as negative. But they were new and different. And didn’t fit into the current structure or ways of doing things.

They would try new models and programs, new ways of being communities of joy, hope, love and peace. They met weekly to discuss how to best address conflicts in their community, how to approach situations to compassionately help people deal with change in the church and get on board with a vision they felt passionate about. They would raise issues and identify inconsistencies that the structure of a worldwide church organization sometimes presents, asking for dialogue, and the opportunity to work together to create more inclusive communities that reflected the values of their members.

Their efforts were often met with more challenges and questioning. Policies and procedures that were meant to be enforced – but really didn’t represent the needs of the current population.

She wrote:

Following these experiences was our natural assumption that we were being targeted and disempowered, intentionally. What deepened these emotions was our sense of confusion. Why are we being met with such negativity, such dishonourment? Why are we being told what we can’t do instead of being asked, “how can we help or how can we facilitate”? We were nervous to make any decisions, to ignite any creativity-a gift that is at the core of who we are. Even as I write these words I am extremely nervous and hesitant to share.

The good intentions of some felt like backhanded compliments to the others. It left this group of passionate young adults feeling emotionally drained, unmotivated, and unsupported by their church community.

Maybe that wasn’t how it was intended, but I don’t think any of them would deny, it’s how it made them feel.

There are times that dealing with the structure of organizations, even a church, can be challenging. Both sides of the table having good intentions. Both sides wanting to do what is right. What is best.

Many of us (even, all of us) are on different paths. We each have different way of doing things. Neither necessarily wrong. Just different ways of seeing the world based on our past and our individual life experiences. Different ideas of what “should” happen. It’s just who we are and where we are.

So in reflection on these issues:
How can we ALL better encourage and support others (young adults or not), rather than patronizing or demeaning the passions, choices or situations of others? How can we address faulty systems stemming from structures put in place in different times?

Addressing differences of opinions, approaches, and perspectives in a loving and respectful manner is vital to our ability to survive as a community and to truly exemplify unity in our diversity.

We find ourselves at a challenging crossroads. An intersection of tradition and innovation. Old and new paths. But all within the blessings and confines of community.

How can we best uphold and support those who believe in, and find truth in, new ideas and visions? New ways of being and living? Even when they don’t fit into the current structure or social expectations we have created for ourselves?

How can we best uphold and support those that believe in, and find truth in, the current structure and social expectations we have created for ourselves?

We’re all hurting. We’re all trying to figure this out. We’ve all experienced those painful, prodding questions. We’re all looking for someone to validate what we’re experiencing. If these past few days have taught me anything, it is this:

I am not alone, and neither are you.
Amanda Bast

 Photo from: mentoringleaders.com

Upcoming Peace & Justice Events you won’t want to miss!

john dear

Shalom Place at the Temple to Host Peace Activist John Dear
Join the Noon-hour Conversation April 3rd

Internationally-renown peace activist, John Dear, will be at Shalom Place, Thursday, April 3rd, for a noon-hour conversation on his latest book, The Nonviolent Life. A Nobel Peace Prize nominee for his peace witness over the past three decades, Dear is a Catholic priest who has authored or edited more than 30 books expressing his conviction that

“my vocation is to follow the nonviolent Jesus by teaching and preaching the Sermon on the Mount, resisting the culture of war and injustice, and proclaiming and welcoming God’s reign of peace and nonviolence.”

Check out the Facebook Event

 

bike4peacePUMP UP YOUR TIRES AND BIKE FOR PEACEMAY 1ST, 2014

Sponsored by the World Church Peace & Justice Team, the event is open to all without charge.

Round-the-world Bike for Peace Tour Includes stop at Temple World Plaza
Public are Invited to Welcome Norwegian Cyclists May 1st at 3pm

Bike for Peace is a Norwegian-based not-for-profit dedicated to promoting peace, disarmament, and democracy. On May 1st a four-rider team will arrive for ceremonies on the World Plaza at 3pm, accompanied by local riders as they cycle from Kansas City to St. Louis. Speaker will be Bike for Peace president, Tore Naerland, who has organized peace and friendship rides in more than 110 countries since 1978.

If you’d like to participate in cycling from KC to Independence, or for more information, please email Lu Mountenay at lmountenay@cofchrist.org. Part-way riders meet at Graceland University campus, 1401 W Truman Rd. (less than 1 mile from the Temple). All are welcome, with or without bikes, to gather under the international flags and rally for peace.

• Speeches:
New mayor of Independence
Nicki Cardwell, Emmanuel Cleaver’s community rep
Cathi Cackler Veazy, post Hiroshima visit
• Group singing and live music
• Have your photo taken with Hazmat Harry
• Contests: oldest and youngest riders
Best “peace” bike decorations (all ages)
• Handouts, and much more.

See you at the World Plaza, River and Lexington on May 1.

 

Changing the Story

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What if we could change the story about Christianity? Change the story about Community of Christ?

Currently, the story I hear around congregations is one of death and concern for the future. One that talks about times gone by where there were lots of people in the pews, there were three services on a Sunday, and when our youth groups had 50 kids in them. Those times were good times. We talk about them with fondness and consider it the pinnacle of what we looked like when we were successful as a church body. We regularly mention the names of great patriarchs passed and recall testimony of their visionary contributions. In comparison, we look at the state of our congregations today. A small amount of youth scattered around areas, buildings closing their doors, and reunions getting smaller and smaller.

This is one story. But what about the others?

Like the story of a woman who has battled depression her whole life, raising her children in a home where even she struggles to get out of bed. This woman, carrying her black dog beside her, with what seemed like a last gasp of dignity, asked for help. Help that came in the simple form of a food basket and a cup of tea. Welcomed, dog and all into the community, this woman found a place she felt comfortable and accepted, a place where she could give of her time, and found a friend.

This is our story.

Or the story of a young adult who lost his way in life, walking the fine line between jail and death. This man, through the simple act of a caring question was moved to tell his story and change his life in a way so drastic that even his family couldn’t believe what was happening. A change that enabled him to have a stable job, a roof to live under and a caring community.

This is our story.

We hear a story about how Christianity is withering like a fig tree, where no one goes to church and Christians are seen in society as conservatives and by some as exclusivists. We are seen as people who exclude, rather than include. As organisations that abuse power and tax law rather than generous and compassionate givers. What if we have become that story? What if we have lived into that story without even knowing it?

What if we were to write a new story?

Jesus re-wrote the story for his people. He created a new life that threw tables, saved a single sheep and hugged an erratic runaway. He changed the story of religion, moving it from a place of exclusivity and power to a place of refuge for the poor and the mistreated. A place where people now conversed with the God within, rather than the God on high. A place where religion was not about sacrificing goats but sacrificing the pursuit for short-lived glory.

What if we changed the story?

books

What if at our meetings we talked about how we were making a difference in the lives of people rather than losing people? What if we were to talk about how to include people rather than mandate against certain life choices? What if we were to harness our power for love and compassion by stopping to have a conversation with someone about their spirit rather than the weather? What if we were to dismantle patriarchal legacy and embrace the simple, profound vision that God calls us to actualise? What if you, nay, what if I chose the path to transformation by simply choosing to think about what I have rather than what I am lacking? What if instead of telling the story of how one congregation has closed due to lack of numbers and instead chose to tell of the amazing generosity they continue to give to the community and beyond? You’re not too old, too young, too shy or too busy. You can ask someone how they are. I can respond by telling the truth when someone asks me how I am.

Tell a new story.

“Here in this place a new light is streaming. Not in the dark of buildings confining, not in some heaven light years away, but here in this place the new light is shining; now is the kingdom and now is the day.”
– “Gather Us In” – Community of Christ Sings #72

 
GATHER US IN
Words and Music: Marty Haugen, 1950–
Words and Music © 1982 GIA Publications, Inc.
License number:  74431
A Community of Christ Sings resource
http://www.CofChrist.org/hymnal

Photo of books from: http://venturegalleries.com/blog/why-do-we-love-books/