Almost 280 years ago, a teaching fellow at Lincoln College in Oxford, England, was awestruck by an experience about which he later wrote in his journal “I felt my heart was strangely warmed.”
Those, of course, were the words of John Wesley, a primary leader of the renewal movement that came to be known as “the Methodist Church.” With his brother Charles and a few friends, they formed a small supportive group in which they began to listen and care for one another. And those simple groups that focused on soul care and deep listening in the 18th century are directly related to what we are doing at our church now as we gather to share stories related to our church, our faith journey, and the church’s direction.
Part of this is a focused, intentional time to share personal experiences that will enable us to explore deeply important questions about “Who are we? Who are we called to be? And who is our neighbor?” This process will help us work together on discerning the direction of our church in the upcoming years. Equally important to what we discern at the end of this focused time that will go on for many months, however, is the hearing and telling of personal stories and how that weaves us into a community of sacred trust, and deepens our compassion and soulful presence with one another. We experience more deeply the power of compassion and what it is to be the church together.
This past Sunday and Wednesday I was able to visit with folks participating in the first two of these “Focus First” gatherings, and am so grateful to those who have been able to take the two hours to be a part of this important “movement.” If you couldn’t make it to the Sunday 12:30 pm or Wednesday 6:30 pm groups, please try to join us in the next week. And whether or not you’ve been able to participate in a Focus First group, please encourage others to join in. If none of those times work out for you or friends, let us know. We will try to help create some other opportunities to participate and be a voice in this discerning process.
Though we have a specific process and timeline for discerning the direction of our church over the next months, this can be just the beginning of a new way, in which all are becoming more intentional about caring for souls throughout our community.
Please join us in this sacred journey.
Grace and peace,