We are re-forming and re-shaping at Pilgrims again. This time--coffee hour! Here's the context:
From this past fall until the end of February, our Pilgrim young adults have been part of a discernment process made possible financially from the Forum for Theological Exploration (FTE). We received a $10,000 grant from FTE to do discernment work with our young adults who make up 40% of our congregation.
We did some pretty amazing things that focused on Belovedness.
- Discernment through the natural voice: We worked on freeing our natural voices by working with Andy Wassenich, a member at Pilgrims and an actor/producer/director of stage in D.C. Andy used voice building techniques from Kristin Linklater that focuses on finding your authentic voice and finding your authentic self. We've heard "no" in many ways when it comes to expressing power. That "no" along with trauma and emotional scars get trapped in our bodies, causing our voice to get stuck and silenced. Andy worked with us to free our natural voices. Think yoga, relaxation, weird noise making, therapy.
- Discernment through formal art: We worked with the Phillips Collection in Dupont to use formal art as a means of discernment. We visited the Phillips twice. Once we engaged in a personal response tour where we were given a prompt (example: what painting depicts risk for you? why?) and to find a painting that connected to the prompt. We then went on a tour of the Phillips based on the paintings we picked. The second visit was engaging in their contemplative tour. This tour had us sitting and listening to a guided meditation based on the Luncheon of the Boating Party.
Skipping ahead a few weeks....
Our young adults came to the next Session meeting to share their stories of this entire process.
At the end of our sharing, I asked the entire group the same question: What do you need to die to in order to resurrect a more authentic self and story?"
Then I asked, "what needs to die at Pilgrims in order for us to resurrect a more authentic self and story?"
Pause. Silence. Stillness.
Our elder for congregational care raised his hand (love that!) and said, "I'm wondering if we need to move coffee hour into the sanctuary? I notice that a lot of us are hanging around in the sanctuary for a while after worship, talking to each other, and not doing down the hallway to coffee hour."
Here comes my jumpy heart.
Just days prior at a worship meeting, Jeff brought up the same observation. I wonder....
Then people started cooking with the thought. Yes! And...I wonder if we could have a prayer corner for those who need to keep praying....I wonder if we could have a meditation circle over in that corner....I wonder....
That's when I tossed my planner pad into the air.
Well, hello Holy Spirit. We see You. We hear You. We are awake and paying attention.
Two weeks ago we brought coffee hour into the sanctuary.
I love all of this. I love all of this because it's about vulnerability, community, and spatial analysis.
When we stay in the sanctuary after worship, we stay in the space where vulnerability and community and relationality came alive. Conversations were coming out of that experience.
When we'd go down the hallway to the coffee hour room, all that died, and we'd go back to our normal scripts of "hey, how was your week. What's up."
It's as if we still needed the structure of liturgy for those intimate conversations to continue even after the formal structure of liturgy has ended. It's as if we were saying, "keep this liturgy thing going, only in the shape of coffee hour." It's as if we need some support and help in still being in the experience of kindness and compassion which liturgy creates.
It's as if we need the support to stay in this way before we go back to our regular selves--we want this kindness and love to last a little bit longer. We need support to do that.
Now our coffee hour treats get rolled down the hallway, placed on a table in the back of the sanctuary during the final hymn and coffee hour happens.
One of the questions in the mid-year report for the grant was "how do you plan on sustaining the grant?"
For me, this is how we sustain and transform the grant experience. We take the theology, the ethic, the liturgical experience of the grant and infuse those elements into our congregational life. We gave ourselves permission to let something die (coffee hour in another room) in order for more life to be experienced (sanctuary coffee hour).
Now our FTE grant looks like goldfish crackers and cheese slices on a table in the sanctuary with community gathered around, embracing the experience of each other, our Biblical stories, and liturgy.
This is discernment.