Back in 2016, a few of our church members, Mark and Leigh, Pete, Ellen, Peg, and Rick, participated in the first Diocesan gathering of “God in the Neighborhood,” a project of five Dioceses to develop local experiments of being church in alternative configurations.
The St. Pat’s team, a lay led group, presented the possibility to the Vestry for consideration. In the Fall of 2016, parishes were asked to commit to the project, and St. Pat’s decided to join up and figure out what our local experiment might look like. The conversation with the congregation elicited interest and direction.
The Bishop sought eight or ten congregations to participate. Support and resources were provided to enhance the projects and learnings will be shared between participants within the Diocese and those beyond in the Country. Our church’s initial assignment began in Gardiner, where this gathering was held, was to walk the neighborhood in small groups, observing what and whom we saw. A challenge is to define what “neighborhood” means, realizing that members attend St. Pat’s from eight or ten cities and towns beyond Holyoke and North Main Streets. The goal is to move beyond our walls… “into all the world,” as Jesus commanded, and not to wait for people to come join us where we are. Fr. Rick
“We haven’t failed: the world has changed”
-Bishop Lane in his second Convention address
The world has changed. More and more of our neighbors are encountering God in places other than church buildings and services. And more and more, if we want to encounter God with our neighbors, we have to go out into our neighborhoods and see what God is up to.
Over the next two years, Episcopalians across Maine will work with our friends in the Dioceses of Connecticut… Southwest Virginia… and East Tennessee, doing experiments in how we might join God in our neighborhoods, and coming together locally to learn from the results.
This will be exciting! We’ll have great support, from people like Dwight Zscheile (People of the Way), Alan Roxburgh, and Craig Van Gelder. We’ll help and learn from one another. And we’ll move step by step so that everyone can take part.
The first step was offered in May 2016, and churches in the Diocese were invited!
WHAT: Joining God in the Neighborhood, a one-day program that will offer ways you can meet God where your neighbors are, and that will invite you to consider trying a few experiments in company with others
WHEN: Saturday, May 21, 2016 10 am to 3 pm (coffee’s on at 9:30)
WHERE: Christ Church in Gardiner, Maine
WHO: Everyone! We especially hope that a clergy person and at least a couple of lay leaders will come from many congregations, big and small, all across Maine
WHY: Because God is doing a new thing, and we’re part of it