5/26/11

GROUNDWORKS MAY 29; KIDS; MEANING

This Sunday May 29 we will be Church Beyond the Building together in Belltown. When churches venture into new territory, an inevitable question arises: "What about the children!?" Last Groundworks Sunday, one of our moms, Beth, organized a task for kids, along the lines of previous efforts to create kid-friendly, adult supervised volunteer work. Recently, Beth shared with me that her daughter Quinn asked, "Mom, when am I going to get to go out and pick up trash with you and Dad again?" It dawned on Beth that what Quinn most enjoyed about Groundworks Sundays was working side by side with the adults; the event had a special energy and excitement that Quinn was able to catch. She drew this picture after going along with her parents to work along 2nd Avenue. Beth shared with me how her daughter's question resulted in an epiphany for her as a parent, about what a great opportunity this is to disciple our children, let them experience Church Beyond the Building as a normative part of their faith family, see another form of love of neighbor, and see the needs of our city up close. This Sunday, rather than organize a special activity for kids, I encourage parents to find and choose something to do with your child(ren). I acknowledge, and know from personal experience, the challenge this is for parents of toddlers, but I have taken a long view: as our children grow and Emmaus Road continues to honor this opportunity, they are shaped by what they see and hear around them. Even if all you can realistically manage is a little cleaning or straightening up inside New Horizons or around the parking lot, they benefit from the joy and enthusiasm they see among the crowd (not to mention the 11:45am pizza). Kids who are a little older can come along with parents who venture further out from Third/Cedar to clean and landscape around the 'hood.

We began devoting "fifth Sundays" to neighborhood service, foregoing worship liturgy, to serve and connect with people outside our worship crowd, hoping to lay the "groundwork" for long lasting relationships with neighbors (read more). Response has been positive. Along with our Americorps volunteer David Anema, I have the privilege of meeting neighborhood activists and ministry partners on an ongoing basis; I hear appreciation for our volunteer service on these Sundays. More importantly, individuals from Belltown have been greatly encouraged to have met several of you from the church (read more). We know God works in our lives through multiple, diverse encounters with his people; we trust he uses our service and love of neighbor - even those we do not know very well - to bless them.

10:30am Arrive as usual
10:45am groups disperse:

BRING GARDENING OR CLEANING SUPPLIES!
  • Simon Senior Apartments to assist residents with deep cleaning - Kristen VanderLinden
  • Street cleaning/landscaping around 2nd/Bell - David Anema
  • Painting @ New Horizons - Kurt Munson
  • Cleaning, sorting, maintenance @ New Horizons - Biff Gaitan and Cornell Blackwell
11:45am Pizzas emerge from oven
12:00PM Groups begin wrapping up, returning

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The Emmaus Road Story

In the winter of 1997, we began as a small team of about 10 people, committed to gathering and growing a church that would connect with others like ourselves; people interested in connecting with God, in the person and work of Jesus Christ, but disconnected from the activity of many mainstream congregations. With the financial support of a larger church organization, our pastor was able to work full time with the team in planning, leadership development, and meeting people in the community.

Our first meetings were open discussion forums. We talked about prayer, scripture, spiritual discipline and the issues with which we all struggle. As friends talked to friends, the first group expanded and we multiplied into two.

Inspired by the journey process as a metaphor for spiritual growth, we searched for a name which would reflect that idea. In the resurrection narrative of Luke 24, we found our name "on the road to Emmaus."

After our first worship event on Good Friday of 1997, both groups began to gather together for worship once a month. In various coffee shops and rental spaces, we gradually increased our worship times to twice a month, and in September of 1998 we decided to gather every Sunday. Since the beginning, numerical growth has been gradual but steady, most often through the personal contact of friends talking to friends.

Today, several small groups continue to meet for open discussions on prayer, scripture, and the process of encountering God in daily life; we all gather for worship each week.