- Table or stand for chalice and worship materials, and a cloth to cover it
- Small candles, enough for all participants, and a sand-filled container, OR a bowl of water and small stones, enough for all participants
- Prepare an attractive worship table in the center of the circle, including a lit chalice and the sand-filled container and candles or the bowl of water and stones.
- Write the words to the Serenity Prayer on newsprint, and post it where all participants can see it: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
This worship time offers a model for leadership groups to acknowledge the anxieties and the challenges in the congregation while lifting up that which supports and deepens the congregation’s vision and mission. It is a technique to help congregational leaders intentionally hold space for creative ideas and emerging leadership.
I invite you to enter into a time of silence and to bring into your hearts and minds all those in the congregation and in our families who are facing challenges.
Pause for 30 seconds. Then say:
I invite you to hold in your hearts and minds all those who have offered their gifts of love and service to the congregation. Enter into silence for a time and call to mind those who are newly emerging as leaders, both adults and youth, and feel your heart fill with gratitude at the gifts they bring.
Pause for 30 seconds. Say:
I invite you to hold in your hearts and minds the challenges faced by this congregation. Enter into silence for a time, and call to mind, one at a time, the myriad issues currently facing the leadership. In the silence of your heart, embrace the challenges, knowing that these are signs of a living institution.
Pause for one minute. Then say:
I invite you to embrace your role as leader, understanding that you and your spiritual well-being are crucial to the well-being of the congregation. In the silence, I invite you to honor your own spirit and your own service to your faith community. In the moments that follow, I invite each of you to light a candle [or put a rock into the water] in silence, symbolizing your own spirit, fully engaged and ready to face the challenges of leadership.
After everyone has lit a candle or placed a stone, invite participants to follow your lead and repeat together a prayer that will be familiar to some, often attributed to theologian Reinhold Niebuhr:
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Including All Participants
If any participants have mobility impairments that make it difficult for them to move to the worship table, distribute stones before beginning this activity. When the time comes, pass the bowl so that all can put their stones in the water.