Posted in Sunday Fellowship

Broken, Compassionate, and Alive

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John Sharon, Founder of Disabilities Understood, preached at WCUC on September 27

Thriving churches have become an endangered species. Studies show more people than ever consider themselves religiously unaffiliated. And all of the mainline denominations are busier closing churches than planting new ones.

I’ve spent a lot of time in churches—at least nine spanning three denominations. I also have friends in many areas of the country who spend most of their time thinking, reading and talking about churches. So I don’t say it lightly when I describe WCUC to colleagues and friends as a thriving church. I’ve often asked myself the question: “Why is WCUC growing when so many other churches are struggling?”

Sunday Fellowship recently invited John Sharon, founder of Disabilities Understood, to preach at WCUC. In his sermon, “The Broken Body”, John described the flourishing church as a place “where everyone’s gifts are cultivated and embraced,” where differences are connecting, rather than disconnecting and where “everyone can find common ground for their brokenness.” As John told us, “when all belong, that’s when the church looks more like Jesus–broken, compassionate, and alive.” Maybe that’s one of the explanations for WCUC’s health and growth in recent years. Could it be that the members of Sunday Fellowship are some of WCUC’s most gifted teachers of the gospel? -Melissa

 

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Dennis’ Testimony

  • May 18, 2015

IMG_3219One of my favorite parts of the Bible is from Luke 10: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your strength and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.” I want to show God my love by sharing my testimony with you today.

I remember doing a webpage for earth science class at CCHS. One of my first links was a picture of the Chinese Bible Church in Lexington, MA. It made my dad happy that I showed how I believed in Jesus and accepted him in my journey and announced my faith as a Christian. I remember I had wanted to join in taking communion for a long time.

About three years ago, I was hospitalized for low oxygen saturation. The doctor gave me a diuretic to drain excess fluid from my body. A strong dose of diuretic made me fall into a deep sleep that caused carbon dioxide retention in my blood. I was brought to the ICU for treatment. My dad thought I had suffered severe damage from the carbon retention and would never wake up. But I believed in myself and I never gave up.

After I woke up in the ICU, my dad found the hospital priest. Both my mom and my dad witnessed my baptism. When Father David from St. Mary’s Church baptized me, I felt joy and relief. God’s Spirit changed me from the inside and beyond. I could not care about how I looked. I knew it was God’s work all along.

Moving to a new environment and living on my own was a new challenge. I cried and was nervous at the beginning but I was also excited to take a big step in my journey. I am very grateful to God that a new apartment was prepared for me that is close to everything I need, a library, a Laundromat, the 99, but especially West Concord Union Church, where I feel God’s at home.

I came to West Concord Union Church for the first time on September 7, 2014. I will always remember taking communion here for the first time. Very quickly I met Pastor Hannah, Maureen and Melissa who invited me to Sunday Fellowship. I came to my first Sunday Fellowship meeting that same afternoon and I have been coming ever since. I love coming to Sunday Fellowship for worship, singing, and sharing joys and concerns with friends. I love hearing the bible stories there because it helps me understand God’s Word more. I really enjoyed coming to the Sunday Fellowship Christmas Dance because I have always loved socializing and having dinner with friends. But the best part of my time with Sunday Fellowship so far has been playing Joseph in the Christmas Pageant.

Thank you mom and dad for caring and loving me. Dear God, I know you have sent your Holy Spirit to live within me forever. Thank you God for all you have done for me.

A Welcome Reminder

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Many who attended the Sunday   Fellowship Christmas Dance counted it among the high points of the Christmas season for them and I must agree.
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Our Epiphany Pageant

  • January 12, 2015

On Epiphany Sunday, January 4th, our congregation celebrated the end of the Christmas season with an energetic and dynamic pageant featuring toddlers, preschoolers, children, youth, adults, and members of Sunday Fellowship – all performing together to tell the nativity story with a few new twists.  As always, our pageant was joyous, musical, funny, heartwarming, and occasionally chaotic.  A special thank you to Melissa Gardner, Joanna Swain, and Kathleen Reidy for making and organizing the costumes, being essential helpers during rehearsal and the pageant, and for providing delicious treats to celebrate our wonderful performers after the service.  Everyone felt the spirit of the season during the performance, and we are already looking forward to next year’s Epiphany Pageant!"                               " "                               " "                               " "                               " "                               " "                               " "                               " "                               " "                               " "                               " "                               " "                               "

Sunday Fellowship Favorite Moments

  • June 6, 2014

In the service last Sunday, we saw this wonderful video that Sunday Fellowship put together to celebrate their year.  Take a look!

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Spiritual Growth at Sunday Fellowship

  • June 4, 2014

2014-04-13 16.46.01Happily I have been involved with Sunday Fellowship since 1995.  The experience has been part of my spiritual growth. Many of you have not attended the twice a month service held at four o’clock.  Let me tell you about it.  We sit in a semi-circle facing a small altar.  The first bell brings the group to order.  Someone lights the candle and we sing a song.  A second bell rings for a time of silence.  Then everyone gets up and passes the peace.  The leader asks a question related to time of year, an upcoming holiday or it will lead to the day’s Bible message.  A simplified version from the Bible is read by two or three readers then discussed.  We sing again and share joys and concerns.  A game or creative activity takes place.

I would like to share with you a meaningful experience that occurred six years ago at the memorial service for my husband John Holt.  Sunday Fellowshippers were invited.  At an appropriate time during the service Brian approached the casket, placed his hand on it and in a loud, clear voice said, “I love John.”  The group led in the closing song Go Now In Peace. It was memorable.  All the members of Sunday Fellowship are my dear friends.

~Annie

What Do We Have in Common?

  • June 3, 2014

2014-03-09 16.01.58One of Sunday Fellowship’s favorite games is “What Do We Have in Common?”  The game is played like this: several people are chosen that share a common characteristic.  The spectators guess what that characteristic is (e.g. they all wear glasses).  This game points out what we already know: people have things in common.  The common denominator of eyeglasses is fairly obvious. But there are other more substantial common denominators or similarities among the people assembled here today.

For instance, John works in Boston and takes the commuter rail into Boston. Does anyone else work in Boston or commute on the train?  Joyce works at TJ Maxx in Acton. She is concerned about how many hours she is assigned for work and how that affects her benefits. Does anyone else have similar employment concerns? The point is that we have many circumstances in common.

I love that word: common. It reminds me of Community. It reminds me of Communion.
Have you noticed that the communion table is on the main floor level today? Why? Because having the communion table up on the stage with this set of stairs to climb makes it inaccessible to many members of Sunday Fellowship.  By bringing the communion table down onto the COMMON GROUND, Cherita will be able to serve the communion bread from her wheelchair. Won’t that be a welcome sight? Sunday Fellowship is at the heart of West Concord Union Church. It would be unconscionable to exclude Cherita from the privilege and honor of serving communion just because she cannot climb the stairs in her wheelchair.

This Tuesday night June 3 at 7:00 liturgical design consultant Richard Vosko is meeting with members of our church community to begin the discussion of possible renovations to this sanctuary. These renovations will be considered as part of our church’s 125th anniversary celebration and in conjunction with a capital campaign. I’m excited about the possibilities this discussion will reveal. Possibilities that will expand our worship options, possibilities that will invigorate our common ground, possibilities that will include us all.

I recently attended a continuing education class that explored the characteristics of innovative thinking. The speaker told us about a company that has re-invented an old cliché. You know the cliché, “If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it.”  Well these innovative thinkers have turned that cliché on its head. The new thinkers instead say…are you ready?…“If it ain’t broken, break it!”

Can you imagine a room full of certified public accountants such as me being told, “If it ain’t broken, break it!” It took me a little while to warm up to this crazy new phrase, but I am convinced that now is the time for this innovative thinking at West Concord Union Church. The new phrase, “If it ain’t broken, break it!” in regard to our sanctuary renovations, says to me, be open to possibilities that you don’t even know exist.  Listen to each other’s dreams. The new phrase says, Dream bigger! Dream better! Dream about a common ground. Dream…about a common ground…where no one is excluded from serving communion because she cannot climb the stairs.

I’m looking out at this community and I see people who have a lot of things in common. I see a community where people have similar joys and concerns.  I see a community that values people of varying abilities.  I see a community that is ready to dream bigger for a church building that will serve in ways we don’t even know yet.  I see a community where everyone is welcome at the communion table.  Welcome to THIS table today. Welcome to our common ground.

~Maureen

Sunday Fellowship Sunday

Join us this Sunday as we celebrate Sunday Fellowship, our ministry of worship and fellowship for people of all abilities.  Sunday Fellowship participants will be leading us in worship, along with our new director, Melissa Tustin.

To get you even more excited for Sunday, take a look at this video made for our friends at Minuteman Arc.  Make sure to watch all the way to the end to see our worship service!

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/76782129]