On an absolutely gorgeous first Sunday of Pentecost, we celebrated our graduating seniors, thanked our talented teaching staff and Children’s Ministries members moving onto different roles, welcomed the Rev. Dr. Jim Antal as our guest preacher calling us to action on climate change, had a ridiculously fun time playing games in Sunday school, and enjoyed the sunshine outside with watermelon and ice cream. Such a perfect way to end our programming year at WCUC. Enjoy the pics!
Posted in Fellowship
This is the second of two blog posts about my recent professional development trip.
The photos below are from my visit with “Parables”, a ministry for people of all abilities at Wayzata Community Church in Wayzata, MN. Rev. Leslie Neugent created Parables six years ago after a child with a disability started singing “Jesus Loves Me” during the sermon and was taken out of worship. As the parent of a child with a disability, Leslie wanted there to be a place where people of all abilities felt free to be themselves during worship. Today, Parables is fondly known as a “no-shushing zone” and “a place for the little red fish in all of us.”
As you can see, there are similarities and differences between Parables and Sunday Fellowship. Both are known for holy moments as well as moments of holy chaos! Both provide leadership opportunities for adults with disabilities. But there are some important differences. Parables primarily serves school-aged children and their families whereas Sunday Fellowship has always focused on adults. Sunday Fellowship has never incorporated therapy dogs into worship the way Parables does. Another difference between Parables and Sunday Fellowship is the role communion plays. Parables celebrates communion at every worship service whereas Sunday Fellowship does not.
What’s clear is that the deep faith, the joy and the strong sense of community people experience at Parables and Sunday Fellowship is very much the same. Communities like Parables and Sunday Fellowship are supremely gifted at embodying God’s unconditional love and they are on the rise. See below for links to multiple churches that are now using the Parables model as well as communities that have developed their own way of doing things. Be sure to check out Benjamin’s Hope which houses a church, a farm, a therapeutic riding program, day/employment programs and intentional communities.
Whatever our ages or abilities at this moment in time, let our prayer be that the little red fish in each of us can always find a place where it feels free to swim in the direction God is leading it.
http://www.benjaminshope.net/http://www.chelseafcc.com/parables.htmlhttps://www.westernsem.edu/welcome-friendship-house/ https://wayzatacommunitychurch.org/ministries/parables-worship/parables-inspiring-love-through-our-vision/ http://www.chelseafcc.com/parables.html
Thirty one women from our congregation traveled to the Craigville Retreat Center on Cape Cod for a weekend of rest, play, worship, prayer, and friendship. Our theme this year was Women’s Wisdom: Inspiring Stories of the Sacred, Secular, and Self. Enlightened by the strength, resiliency, gifts, and courage of women in the Bible, writers, poets, artists and activists, as well as some legendary women from WCUC, we then moved on to consider our own journey’s to wisdom as we shared our stories, our struggles, and our celebrations with one another.
“This weekend has provided space and time for thought about the specific contributions of women, both present and past.”
“I feel like I have been raised up by the wisdom of women of the Bible, secular world, and most importantly the women gathered here. I am leaving with so much to reflect upon.”
“This weekend has given me peace, gratitude, and faith in the power of other women and myself.”
“I have been raised up this weekend by my sisters, my tribe. I am renewed by the wisdom, compassion, love and humor of these amazing women of God.”
A Weekend for…
“I realized that I felt crippled by my burdens. This weekend I was reminded of my strength and power and that if I pause and listen to God speaking, I can tap into that and move forward.”
“I am rejuvenated and refreshed by sunshine, moonshine, inspirational women, and retreat from regular life.”
“I proved to myself that I have grown mentally by being able to learn to knit much more easily than it was in high school.”
“I gained insight from the reading “My Journey to Wisdom” that ‘clouds of insecurity’ are natural and sometimes protective.”
“I was given the gift of solace and reflection.”
“I have been encouraged to listen carefully to the Spirit and then step out with boldness and courage.”
“I have been enveloped in a blanket of warmth and caring.”
“I learned it’s ok to not conform to the conventional picture of femininity, so you can enjoy being a woman.”
“I was reminded to focus and be grateful for my strengths, when I only see weakness.”
“This is my new life. I can be who I am.”
Finding Strength in Community:
“Being a part of this community made me feel stronger and welcome. I learned from every woman I met.”
“Seeing the ways in which the generations are sensitive to each other has been a high point for me this weekend. I really appreciated the acceptance of the younger women here with us.”
“I was empowered by a conversation with another woman whom I did not know well. We discovered we have a common history that is not easy to talk about with many people.”
“The company of women with such a diversity of experiences has given me renewed hope for the power of the ‘Holy’ in our broken world.”
“Sharing stories with others has helped me to appreciate everyone better.”
“Many people have shared their struggles and uncertainties about coming. I have been inspired by everyone here and this weekend turned out to be a blessing.”
“I felt raised up by a conversation I had in which I shared something that I haven’t before.”
“Enjoying a conversation I had with someone I don’t know well and feeling more comfortable with her now.”
And Feeling the Power of Nature and Laughter:
“I enjoyed walking to the ocean…seeking an expanse beyond indoor enclosures.”
“I loved the beach walk and I laughed a lot with the women.”
“The inspiration of nature and the changing views of the beach: stormy and windy; calm and soothing in the sun; water view at night below the moon and stars.”
“It felt good to integrate nature with our daily lives.”
“An objective measure of trust in a space or group of people is the count of the number of belly laughs a person has had. The count for me this weekend is near
As you can see, all ages and abilities had a blast dancing together at Sunday Fellowship’s second St. Patrick’s Day Dance. Thanks for coming everyone!
By now many have heard (or read) the story about Samantha Gavitz, the two year old girl from Newton whose neighborhood is taking classes in American Sign Language (ASL) because she was born Deaf. https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2019/02/07/farragher/TEREscjAx7jPNA7RP1IQoI/story.html
Like Samantha’s neighbors, I too learned my first words in ASL out of love for a child, my own. But unlike them, ASL took a back seat to mom blogs and potty training books as soon as my son could say, “more” and “all done,” I wish I had stuck with it. Then I might be able to have fluent conversations with my friends at Sunday Fellowship who are Deaf or hearing-impaired. But I’m working on it. I can now sign the entire Lord’s Prayer and I know how to use basic ASL books and apps to get my point across. I’ve been incorporating ASL into some Sunday school lessons and recently got to see a student use her knowledge of ASL to have a conversation with someone from SF.
But the best way I’ve found to increase knowledge of ASL aside from formal classes is to “sing and sign” together. Check out the pictures and videos from the last session of Food and Fun when we learned how to sing and sign to two songs music from The Greatest Showman. I wonder how much progress we can make by May 5th, when SF hopes to perform these pieces with the adult, teen, junior choirs for Sunday Fellowship Sunday!
Seventy people of all ages and abilities came together on February 17th for the second installment of “Food and Fun” a fun new experiment Sunday Fellowship is trying this winter. After a delicious lunch of pizza and salad, it was GAME ON with Candyland, Connect 4, Giant Uno, Legos, puzzles and more! Check out the silly and serious game faces below.
And if you missed it, don’t worry, there is one more edition of Food and Fun on March 3rd when we’ll be singing and signing to music from the Greatest Showman.
Belated thanks to everyone who helped prepare for and host our Open House! It was a wonderful day connecting with each other and with visitors. See photos below!
Our focus this year is on discipleship and what followers of Jesus actually do to become more like him. Over the next several weeks and months, SF will explore different Christian practices like peace-making, justice-seeking, communion, baptism, sharing our spiritual gifts, sabbath rest and more.
So far we’ve already introduced a new way of “passing the peace” using white silk scarves. We talked about what Jesus might have meant when he told his disciples before he died: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives.” Check out these videos that helped us come up with the idea of peace scarves and reminded us of the transformational power of practicing peace: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=22&v=QgbFTBJb3xY and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jvOllDWTnyY.
Sunday Fellowship’s next gathering will be on October 14 at 4 p.m. Come join us as we begin to explore our spiritual gifts and John Swinton’s view that “within the body of Christ, every body has a place, and every body is recognized as a disciple with a call from Jesus and a vocation that the church needs if it is truly to be the body of Jesus.”
It was awesome to see so many people at the 35th Anniversary of Sunday Fellowship. There was standing room only in our sanctuary! I counted at least 50 SF members as well as many MMArc staff, past SF leaders, and lots of friends and family members!
Everyone did a great job helping to lead the service. Here are a few of the comments we’ve received so far:
Many thanks to MMArc residential director, Andrew Forti and all of the MMArc house managers for working with us to facilitate transportation. Special thanks to the MMArc staff who came in early for the 9am shift to make it possible for people to arrive before worship.
Thank you junior and senior choir members, Jim Barcovic, Susan Davies, Chris Porth, Pete DeRosa, Julie Beyer and Jeff Tustin for working with us to make beautiful music yesterday.
I’d also like to thank Andrew Southcott and the Hospitality Committee for providing all of the healthy snacks we enjoyed after worship as well as our guest preacher Rev. John Hudson. John told some stories about his experiences with Sunday Fellowship back in the day when he was senior pastor at WCUC. And David Swain took over 300 photos. Here are some of them! Thank you all!
Thanks to everyone who helped make it possible to make wreaths and cards, and all who participated and added to our fellowship!