Getting Outside Our Routines

One of the things we are really good at in the Sellwood Faith Community is talking about our faith. Every week we sit around the table and have a discussion. Sometimes the catalyst is Scripture, sometimes it’s a video, or sometimes it’s just an engaging question that leads us to listen and grow as we talk. While talking is good we recognized that there were lots of other spiritual expressions we could engage. As the summer is here it is the perfect time to get out side our routines so we can  practice and play.  We’re calling our summer program experiencing faith. Each week we will eat together and then get up and do something together. Our children have been studying labyrinths in the children’s ministry this past month so our first experience will be walking a labyrinth in the backyard of the SFC house. We will explore our faith throughout July and August by creating art, playing with water, praying for the neighborhood, taking a week off to experience our city in new ways, singing together, and baking together. We will close the summer with a picnic at the riverfront and communion in the woods. Along with the new experience faith programming we are launching brunch this coming week. Now that my time at Capitol Hill United Methodist Church has ended Sunday mornings are set aside for fruit salad, fancy pastries, and faith. It’s kind of like having two different worship services, except for us it’s two different meals. On Sunday mornings we will explore the same topics that we explore on Sunday evenings. In the mornings we will...

An Ending to a Chapter

This next Sunday is the last worship service at the traditional church I have been serving for the past 3 years. The congregation is 106 years old and they are a lovely group of deeply caring people.  I am so sad that this church is closing and yet I know it is the right thing.  This congregation could have chosen to continue on, but they faithfully followed God’s call to let go and embrace something new. It took incredible bravery and grace to walk this path and they have done so beautifuly. At the end of my first year with the folks of Capitol Hill we had a difficult conversation.  They had worked with an interim prior to my arrival and the congregation was presented with two basic ideas, one to redevelop and the other to move towards closure. They decided not to decide, which really meant coasting towards closure.  I brought this up and said that they did not seem like people who would be happy coasting.  This conversation lead us to a year long process of discernment.  For the first few months we had brunch worship every third Sunday.  We all brought something to share and sat around tables singing, praying, reading scripture, and talking.  We began by remembering the best parts of the community.  The next month we talked about what we wanted our church to feel like in the future.  In November we brain stormed any idea about what to do with our land, building, and people.  By the early spring we had a set of ideas we wanted to explore and changed from brunch...

Sharing Art

This past year I have been training as a docent at the Portland Art Museum.  Every Monday I got to attend the amazing docent lectures featuring artists, curators, and other experts connected to the museum like the conservator and various professors.  After the lecture I attended the training class where we got to work on improv deftness, open question asking, researching art, reading group dynamics, and many more skills. The reason I started the docent program was to build another network.  At SFC we are constantly thinking about who is in our circle and how do we connect with new people.  One of the simplest ways to build new relationships is to start something new.  Over the past 9 months I have gotten to know a ton of new people, fellow docents, museum staff, and members of the public.  Our philosophy is to simply be ourselves, listen to the stories of others and tell our own story. Sometimes through that people become interested in SFC.  If we are never engaging new people in new places we don’t have opportunities to meet people where they are and share God’s love in simple ways through our everyday actions and choices. What I have found from doing the docent training program has been both a set of skills that easily translate to my work at SFC and a time of sabbath and renewal drinking in beauty and learning for the sake of learning.  Asking good questions is pretty much the core of our community, so working on this at the museum has been such a great skill builder for me.  Spending time...

Anxiety Is Rough

It’s no secret to regular readers of this blog that I have anxiety disorder. I’ve written before about the stress of losing our cat (who was later found) and my general anxiety related to doing new start work. This past month I experienced a kind of anxiety I’ve never had before. In the week following General Conference I hit a new low. I think it was all of the stress of the proceeding 2 1/2 weeks catching up with me. I had three anxiety attacks. Mine come as a panicky feeling coupled with an overwhelming sense that everyone finds me stupid and annoying. I feel like I can’t breathe and everything takes a huge amount of effort. Normally when I am stressed I find comfort in my friends, but it was almost like I was done with people. It is possible that this incredibly extroverted girl hit her people max. I guess 5000 United Methodists will do that to a person. During General Conference I did all the right things. I took time off. I made sure to get enough sleep and to eat properly.  I had time alone to watch TV or read a book. I realized as I made this list that I was blaming myself for my anxiety. Surely if I had done something differently I would’ve been fine, but the reality is if I got a cold after General Conference I would not have been engaged in the same self blaming. It would be nice to say that I read the scripture about not worrying and prayed away all of the junk in my head. But...