Third Street Mission

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Last fall, St. Paul’s celebrated “God’s Work. Our Hands.” Sunday by rolling up their yellow sleeves and digging in to help spruce up Third Street Park. Now we hope to build upon the ministry we have begun, and look for more ways to share the love of Jesus Christ with our neighbors. Leading up to this year’s return to Third Street park, we are looking for more ways to listen, care, go, and connect to God’s mission in this neighborhood. But it can only happen if people commit to being involved! Everyone is encouraged to break out their yellow shirts and participate in the following events:

Operation Spring Clean-up

Tuesday, May 5 from 5p-8p

What is it? A city-wide campaign to clean up the city

What should I expect? The city will be providing all the materials needed and a list of work that needs to be done. It will include pulling weeds, picking up trash, and painting the playground equipment.

Why be involved?  This is an excellent opportunity to go into the neighborhood, connect with community-minded neighbors, and show that St. Paul’s cares about the well-being of this park and neighborhood.

How can I help? Put on your God’s Work. Our Hands. T-shirt and show up to the park! City park department workers and volunteers will be on hand to direct volunteers. If you don’t feel up to working, you could stop by with some waters and treats for the other volunteers!

Neighborhood Walk

June 24, 5p-7p

What is it? A walk through the neighborhood to invite people to the service & picnic in the park.

What should I expect? We’ll meet at Third Street Park for instructions and prayer.  Then participants will be sent out into the neighborhood in pairs or triads to canvass the area. 

Why be involved?  Caring and helping begins with listening. We will listen to the community through observation and conversation with those who live there, and invite them to connect with St. Paul’s at worship in Third St Park the following Sunday.

How can I help? Help spread the word and encourage people to participate. Volunteers will also be needed to create invitations for worship and help coordinate the walk ahead of time. And then show up wearing yellow! We’ll gather at the park briefly at five, then gather together around 6:30pm for a short debriefing.

Worship & Picnic in 3rd St Park

June 28, 10:30 am, picnic to follow

What is it? Worship outdoors, followed by a picnic.

What should I expect? Service will begin at 10:30 and will follow the liturgy we have traditionally used in our park services, including communion. Afterwards, a picnic will be served. 

Why be involved? Worship is central to our being as Christians. Through worship, we show care for and listen for God. Through Word & Sacrament, we are receive God’s care for us and the strength to go into the world, to live and serve God and neighbor.

How can I help? We will need several people to pitch in and provide food. The altar guild will also need help setting up for the service that morning. On the day of the event, show up, be bold, be kind. Engage one another and the community in conversation.

Preparations for God’s Work. Our Hands. Sunday

Early August (date & time to be determined)

What is it? Planning for activities and assigning roles for “God’s Work. Our Hands.” Sunday.

What should I expect? Assessing our work from the previous year, sharing what we have heard or learned over the summer, short time of brainstorming, and planning activities and publicity. 

Why be involved? By tending to the work of preparation, we show we care and create ways for others to connect to God’s work. By working together, we learn to listen and connect to each other in faithful and productive ways.

How can I help? If you would like to be part of the planning team, please email the church office.

God’s Work. Our Hands. Sunday

Sunday, Sept 13, 9a-2p

What is it? We will begin with a short morning prayer liturgy and communion. We will then break off into groups and assign the work to be done. Lunch will be provided.

What should I expect?  To get dirty! We will begin with a short morning prayer liturgy and communion. We will then break off into groups and assign the work to be done. Lunch will be provided.

Why be involved? We are called by God to go and participate boldly in God’s reconciling work in the world.  By caring for creation, we care for God and our neighbors, and connect with one another, the church, and the community through loving acts of service.

How can I help? Plan to attend service and stay to help out. Share the event with others, via Facebook, email and word of mouth. We will also hoping to provide activities after service for the children, and are currently accepting ideas. More specifics about tools, supplies, etc. will be available after the planning meeting.

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Listening Learnings

 

thanksThank you to everyone who took a little time to sit down and share their stories during our Listening Campaign this past summer!  Having been the first experience of a listening campaign as a congregation, I wanted to offer some of my observations and highlight some of the things the Listening Team identified as learnings in this process.

Background

As part of St. Paul’s continual mission discernment, each year three “priorities” are identified as focus areas of St. Paul’s Mission.  These three priorities are used to shape the way our council, ministries and members are live out that mission together through ministry programs, worship, and events.  This past year, the identified priorities were: Faithful in Worship, Growing as Stewards, and Continued Mission Discernment (Read more about these priorities here).

The second priority, Growing as Stewards, includes a special focus on building relationships.  This emerged from a number of experiences over the past three years which highlighted that (1) active participants in St. Paul’s ministries do not know one another as well as we typically assume, and, (2) that our relationships are one of the most valuable things we steward as Christians.

This past summer, the focus on building relationships was lived out through St. Paul’s Listening Campaign.  The campaign launched in March when members of St. Paul’s were trained in the art of one-to-one conversation and formed a “Listening Team.”  Over the next several weeks, this team led the listening process by planning, executing, and debriefing conversations.  A final report of this phase of listening was reported to the congregation on Pentecost.

Reflections on the processListenLearning

The best part of the campaign for the Listening Team was the opportunity to become more familiar with other members of the congregation and hear their stories.  It takes a certain amount of courage to even ask people to sit down together.  But overall, the team found that people were excited and willing to talk and swap stories.

The goals of the listening campaign were fourfold:

  1.  Establish or deepen relationships
  2.  Learn what people value, who they really are, and how their life experiences have shaped them
  3.  Find commonly held interests, goals or values
  4.  Through attentiveness and inquiry, gain new clarity about one’s self and self-appreciation

There were times during the campaign that the team felt a lack of clarity around the goals.  Early on, the team had decided not to “bring up” St. Paul’s unless the other person mentioned it first.  As the campaign went on, members of the team expressed desire to apply a more focused questioning around a particular issue.  This created a real tension for the team – how to discover the common pressures and passions of members without trying to lead the conversation to a particular end through a set of predetermined questions.

This tension was probably most felt when the team met to reflect on their experiences and what they heard in order to prepare for the report to the congregation.  In preparing for the report to the congregation, the team expressed that they did not get a sense of closure from the first phase.  There was still a lot to debrief and unpack, but the short amount of time for the turnaround did not allow for enough conversation.

CHSThe team desperately desired to come up with a report and recommendation that would convey the richness and depth of all that they had heard.  Following the Pentecost report, the general consensus of the team was that the identified action steps did not seem to adequately address the pressures and passions that were uncovered in the conversations.  Additionally, the action steps did not appear to contain any “risk,” which may have contributed to a lack of enthusiasm.

Going forward 

When the team discussed how best to move forward, a key component was finding ways to create opportunities for people to share their stories and build relationships with others.  The Table Talks will be helpful in this regard, but there will likely be more relational work to be done in the months ahead.

engaged-listeningIn identifying their own “next steps,” the Listening Team decided to focus on supporting the work of the grant team through one-on-one conversations with applicants/references and hosting “research meetings” to build relationship with others actively serving the community, learn what motivates them and they got to this point in their life, and discover where their goals and values overlap with St. Paul’s.

 

If you are curious about the listening campaign, wonder why St. Paul’s is doing this, or are interested in being a leader in the process, send a note to Pastor Joshua, who would love the opportunity to sit down together and discuss these things further.

2013 Mission Priorities

At its last meeting, the church council identified three “Mission Priorities” for St. Paul’s next year.  These priorities (discussed below) have given shape to the 2013 budget proposal that will be discussed at the annual meeting on December 9th.   An intentional focusing on building relationships, both new and old, underlies all three priorities.  Through building relationships, we not only grow as faithful followers of Christ, but take part in building the kingdom of God a little closer to home.

Faithful in Worship

Since worship occupies a central place in our identity as a community of faith, council leaders discussed ways to encourage regular worship attendance among members, extending personal invitations to those without a church home, and building relationships with those who come to worship on Sunday morning.

Part of this includes continuing to make opportunities to serve in worship (as Assisting Minister, Reader, etc) more available and for those who regularly fill these roles to intentionally invite others to step into these roles.  And this includes an emphasis on making worship more accessible to families by finding creative ways for children to actively participate in worship and providing more options for parents, like nursery care.

We will also proclaim God’s love through the Art of the Passion. Last year, the exhibit reached over 350 people, many of whom do not regularly attend church.  In 2013, we hope to find ways to improve and expand the exhibit, so that the good news may be extended even further into the world.

Growing as Stewards

The second  priority is that our members and regular attenders continue to grow as stewards of the gifts that God has given them.  Our past stewardship campaigns and cottage meetings have laid a great foundation for understanding our role as stewards of God’s gifts.  The particular ways our mission is lived out is shaped by the individual gifts of the people who recognize how God has blessed them and are eager (even if sometimes reluctant) to share it with the world.  Throughout the year, we will be using the wholeness wheel to identify and encourage each other to grow as stewards of God’s gifts.

This process will begin early in the year, with an exciting chance for everyone to get involved through a congregational listening campaign.  A handful of people will be trained in the art of one-to-one conversations and then will schedule times to interview other members in a mutual discovery of passions & gifts.

Continued Mission Discernment

The third priority identified is that St. Paul’s continues the process of mission discernment.  In the past, churches have engaged in this kind of visioning once in a blue moon – and more often than not, it involved some kind of building campaign.  However, mission is a ongoing process of discernment.

Building upon the discernment done in 2010, we’ll continue working with the Indiana-Kentucky Synod’s Latino Strategy Board and implementing the partnership objectives to discover ways that we can overcome cultural boundaries in our community and become a community that truly shares God’s love with all people.

A big part of discernment is listening.  So once our congregational listening campaign is completed, we’ll turn it outwards, inviting more members to be trained and listening to those in the community who are not participants at St. Paul’s.  All of this will come together at our Triennial Mission Discernment Retreat, where participants at St. Paul’s will have the opportunity to select and award a grant to a local agency with whom we would like to work together to make God’s love known in our community.

 

Through focusing time and resources on these priorities, St. Paul’s will continue to grow as vital ministry in our community.  There is much to be excited about in the coming year and a lot of ways to be involved.  No matter how young or old, near or far, quiet or boisterous you may be, there is a place for you.   There will be a chance to discuss these priorities and share your ideas at the congregational meeting and weeks following.

In the meantime, keep watching announcements in church or on Facebook; talk about it with others and ask a lot of questions; share it with God in prayer; think about what part you a most interested or gifted for – and together we’ll continue to share and proclaim the love of God, while growing in faith as followers of Christ.

The 2012-2013 Congregational Meeting will be held on Sunday, December 9th following worship.

 

Going the extra mile

On June 24, folks from St. Paul’s hit the pavement to intentionally engage the community by walking its streets.

For 12 weeks over the summer, 37 walkers covered more than 147 miles of sidewalks, trails, roads, and alleys, paying close attention to what they saw, heard, and experienced. They were looking specifically for ways at which God is already at work in the world around us.

Sometimes new sidewalks the city provided easy walking, but other times the sidewalks ended or were in disrepair. Many of the neighborhoods contained a variety of single-family and multi-family homes – some needing a little TLC, but many in good condition and under great care.

 

Near the center of the city, small businesses (a few just opening) were contained in houses amidst residential homes.  Of particular interest was the old church building on John & Gentry which has since been converted into a residence.

Walkers didn’t notice or interact much with others for the first few weeks when temperatures reached over 100 degrees.  As the heat began to break, children emerged to play on the sidewalks and ride their bikes down side streets followed by people relaxing on their porches and working in their yards.

For those who didn’t feel physically up for a walk (especially given the high heat!), St. Paul’s partnered with the Paul Phillippe Center to provide a way for them to participate.  The ride-along gave participants a way to see a lot of the city and surrounding areas, guided by a very knowledgeable driver.

During the campaign, participants came up with a few more creative ways to engage the community.  As a way to celebrate the conclusion of the campaign, walkers invited local food industries to join a celebratory meal on Sunday, September 23rd.  The lunch featured locally produced & distributed foods from Schoup’s Country Foods, Frito-Lay, Glover’s Ice Cream, Zachary’s Candy, and Margarita’s Pupusería.

Walkers also wanted to find a way to complement our listening with a way to serve the poor.  So, on August 5th, St. Paul’s began collecting shoes for the shoe-less.  Two large boxes were placed in the narthex outside of the sanctuary and people were asked to search their closet for unused shoes or bring in a pair of new shoes.    Slowly, the boxes began to fill up – and then overflow!   In total, over 180 pairs of shoes were blessed and sent on their way to be distributed by Art for Humanity!  

Overall, the walkers’ response to the walk was one of surprising hope.  We discovered a number of “leads” and “interesting guesses” about where this experience will take St. Paul’s into the future.   The observations made during the walks will help give shape our future engagements, like the one-to-one listening campaign in 2013.  Without question, St. Paul’s is beginning to see itself as part of the community here in Clinton county;  but what we’ve witnessed walking the streets, collecting shoes, and inviting neighbors to share a meal, has helped us see ourselves as part of something even larger – God’s mission in the world, active and alive in our small corner of the world.

Walking the Community

As part of St. Paul’s mission-implementing, partnership grant, members and friends of St. Paul’s are invited to join together as we “walk the community.”  Through this campaign, we hope to learn more about the community in which we live, where God is already working, and how we may be a part of God’s work here, locally.

There are a number of ways to participate.

1. Wednesday Walks – Each Wednesday evening we will walk 1 to 2 miles of the community.  Starting locations are announced each Sunday and listed in the Walking the Community brochure.

2. Ride Alongs – If walking for more than a mile sounds like too much of a physical toll, you can still participate in a ride-along on the third Wednesday of the month.

3. Walking at your own pace – For them, the Wednesday walks may not be the best time of day.  Many people already are walking.  So we’ve made it easy for you to walk at your own pace.  All you need to do is fill out a response card that indicates who you walked with (pairs are great! and a cord with three strands is not easily broken), where you walked, and what you saw or experienced.

Our goal is to have 80% of St. Paul’s participate and cover as much of the area as we can.

We also hope to schedule special walks soon – some of these may include “night walks,” “walks w/ community leaders,” “walking together with other christians,” or in other areas – like Mulberry!  The best way to keep up-to-date is to sign up for St. Paul’s (e)pistle and follow us on facebook.  So take a second to click “like” and then lace up those shoes and come meet us out on the sidewalks!