This segment explores “What it means to create congregations that can be laboratories of learning about how to practice our faith.”
Materials and Preparation
- A People So Bold DVD
- DVD player, TV/screen, and speakers
- Chalice, candle, and matches
- Singing the Living Tradition (1)
Time: 50-75 minutes
A. Chalice Lighting
Welcome participants. Recruit a volunteer to light the chalice.
Offer opening words 445 from Singing the Living Tradition as the volunteer kindles the flame.
B. Building the Sacred Fire
Introduce the first speaker, Dr. Mark Hicks (see Participant Biographies in Appendix A).
Watch “Transformative Faith,” and pause at 6:00 with these questions on the screen:
- Where do you hear “yes” to help transform you and your community?
- Where do you find the breathing space to create the sacred fire?
- What kind of spiritual practice helps you find your truths?
Help frame the questions for participants by explaining:
Each of these questions is about how you connect to your source—your source of inspiration and hope, the very ground of your being.
Invite participants into a process of reflection and discussion, utilizing two or more of the following modes.
- Offer a time of silence for individual reflection and writing on all three questions.
- Form the group into pairs or triads in which participants take turns sharing their responses and ideas.
- Bring the whole group back for a summary discussion, asking for highlights of the small group discussions.
C. Crisis and Clarity
Speakers in this segment are: Rebecca Parker, Jill Schewendemen, Louise Green, and Meg Riley. Introduce speakers that have not already been introduced to the group. (See Appendix A for speaker introductions.)
Pause the DVD at 13:00 to consider the questions on the screen:
- Has a crisis clarified or changed your congregation’s priorities about spending resources of time, attention, and money?
- What else besides crisis might shift congregational focus?
Lead a discussion with the whole group, encouraging participants to speak from their own experience. Invite them to share stories and impressions from their perspective within the congregation.
D. Expanding Church
Play the next, brief section of the DVD, in which Kate Lore presents a metaphor for a prophetic congregation.
Pause the DVD at 14:20 to reflect on the questions
- What are the walls at your congregation now?
- What would it take to expand them?
Invite participants to gather in small groups to consider and discuss these questions. Offer 5-10 minutes for discussion, then ask for small groups to share highlights of their small conversations with the large group.
Invite participants to gather in a circle, if possible. Close with the words of one of the panelists, Rev. Dr. Rebecca Ann Parker:
Your gifts—whatever you discover them to be—
can be used to bless or to curse the world.
The mind's power,
the strength of the hands, the reaches of the heart,
the gift of speaking, listening, imagining, seeing, waiting
any of these can serve to feed the hungry,
bind up wounds, welcome the stranger,
praise what is sacred, do the work of justice, or offer love.
Any of these can draw down the prison door,
hoard bread, abandon the poor, obscure what is holy,
comply with injustice, or withhold love.
You must answer this question:
What will you do with your gifts?
Choose to bless the world.
The choice to bless the world can take you into solitude
to search for the sources of power and grace;
native wisdom, healing and liberation.
More, the choice will draw you into community,
the endeavor shared, the heritage passed on,
the companionship of struggle,
the importance of keeping faith,
the life of ritual and praise, the comfort of human friendship,
the company of earth, its chorus of life welcoming you.
None of us alone can save the world.
Together—that is another possibility, waiting.