Do you want to know where to find Jesus today? Have you ever wondered how to go about figuring out what God is up to in the world? Are you wondering about how to shape local churches that aren’t boring or merely a poor substitute for the self-help programs on TV? The response to each is the same: join with Jesus and move back into the neighborhood because that’s where we’ll connect with what God is up to. There, in the rdinariness and humanness of a neighborhood, we will discover what it means to be Christian and, in so doing, start to get what it’s like to be more fully human. – Alan Roxburgh; Moving Back into the Neighborhood.
Many of the ways we used to be the church don’t connect with people as they once did. And most of us are willing to change. We want to develop relationships with people outside of our congregations. We want to meet God in them and perhaps have them meet God in us. But beyond social outreach, we aren’t always sure exactly how to do that.
We know how to have a food pantry or a community lunch. We know how to join with Habitat for Humanity, collect clothing or money for a good cause, or send our youth somewhere on a mission trip. But how do we build actual relationships with those same people? And sometimes even more difficult, how do we make meaningful connections with those not in need of our good works?
Connecting Communities is a practical process that helps us do those very things. Through it we will learn to be with God, each other, and our communities not through books or lectures, but by engaging in simple exercises together and then reflecting upon our experiences.
The Rev. Dwight Zscheile, the Rev. Michael Binder, and the Innovation team at Luther Seminary have been fine-tuning this process for a number of years with Episcopal dioceses and Lutheran synods across the United States, and have trained a team from the Diocese of Ohio to bring it here in 2019.
Your congregation is encouraged to join with us in what we are calling Connecting Communities – a group of congregations who commit to one another in a nine-month learning experience. Participating congregations send a team of 4-6 people who come together for three Saturday workshops and, in the months between them, invite members of their own congregations into fun, simple experiential exercises.
The learning and spiritual growth happens when as many people as are willing try the exercises in their
congregation, and then reflect with each other on their experiences. This action-reflection approach is the
way adults learn best.
Connecting Communities is about connecting more deeply with God, each other, and your neighborhood; we believe it will help put legs on some things you’ve likely been wanting and studying for the last several years. More detailed information has already been sent to all clergy, wardens, and congregations and is also available
through the Rev. Brad Purdom at firstname.lastname@example.org and Antoinette Taylor at email@example.com, or ask any member of our Diocesan Connecting Communities team: Kate Gillooly, St. Luke’s, Cleveland; Alex Barton,
Church of the Redeemer, Lorain; and Michelle Killin-Keith, St. Peter’s, Lakewood.