The Congregational Church of West Medford is now doing business as Sanctuary UCC.
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Beginning in February, we will return to the discernment work of Crossroads—with an experiential process of Prayer, Study, Exploration and Experimentation—all designed to bring us to our bold decision about the future of our faith community.  We will call this time Crossroads Phase II.  You will hear more specifics about this in our meeting today including:

  • Prayer for our Process: beginning Feb 2, each Sunday from 9:15 — 9:30 am, Rev. Wendy will lead a time of prayer in Bean Chapel for our discernment process
  • Wednesday Worship and Study: Being Jesus Followers:  beginning Feb 5, 7:00 pm — 8:00 pm, Rev. Wendy will lead a weekly worship, study and dialogue designed to consider what Jesus asked of us when he said, “Follow me,” and what that suggests to us about what God is calling us into for the future.
  • Experimentation:  We will deliberately experiment in worship.  We will share more about this as it unfolds.  Some of this has begun to happen already but we are excited to try other new things.
  • Exploration:  We will bring 15 minutes of exploration via video, web sites, and other means to you—offering successful ministries and unique models for worship and community designed to spark ideas and creativity in us—this will occur each Sunday after worship during fellowship hour.  One thing that will happen during this time is the exploration of worship, ministry and faith communities that are doing a new thing and thriving!  We intend to expose ourselves to lots of new ideas in the interest of getting our own creative juices flowing.

This past Sunday, a couple of our leaders took a field trip to two different churches and here is a bit of what they experienced at Grace Church UCC in Framingham and Hope Central Church in Jamaica Plain, as reported by Kathy Williams.  The purpose of our visits was to observe churches doing things in new and interesting ways.  We plan to make more visits and welcome anyone to join us.  If you are interested please let Kathy Williams or a member of the leadership team know.

Grace Church, Framingham: This church is in the Crossroads program with us.  Like us, they owned a big old building and decided to sell it to their tenant, a growing Brazilian congregation.  They are now worshiping in a house which they have turned into a church.  We  found their service to be fairly traditional (New Century Hymnal, prayers, readings, sermon, prayers of the people).  The pastor, Rev. Bradford Watters was dynamic and engaging.  The service was quite participatory and parts were handed out immediately prior to the service (I even had a reading).  There were about 25 in worship, the snow prevented some, but they are a small group.  There was a Sunday School (mostly teens) but it does not meet every Sunday.  They are making little or no efforts to grow.  They people were friendly to us (esp the people we knew already in Crossroads).  The house-as-church model was pretty nice for a small group.  They had done some renovations to make the building fit their needs but not much decoration.  They do some mission work and the Faith in Action Team met after church.  They pay the pastor full time, they pay a music director, but have no administrator.    They said that they don’t think this will be permanent; at this time they are considering a relationship of some sort with another UCC church in town.  We promised to stay in touch.  Julie Roberts added: Grace in Framingham gave me an idea about how a small (our size) congregation could feel (more cozy and casual than in our big sanctuary) meeting in a small church ( not much room, though, if they want to grow).

Hope Central Church, Jamaica Plain: We have strong ties with this congregation, through  Rev. Wendy, Steven and Nanette, Jean Vandergrift.  We attended their 5:30 PM service.  Their pastor, Rev. Laura Ruth Jarrett, is also familiar to us, when she was working at First Church Somerville she preached at our church and spoke about the ONA process.  Like Grace, the service at Hope is both traditional and not.  There is a jazz trio for music and there was a small (4 member) choir.  Julie thought the music was a little snoozy but I loved it.  In fact, I loved everything about this church.  Much of their language and traditions are things that Steven and Wendy both have brought to us, so I felt at home.  Laura Ruth is warm and wonderful.  In fact, the whole congregation embraced us.  There were about 50-60 or so people in worship, there would have been more except it was in direct conflict with the Patriots game.  There was a baby dedication and of course communion (that Disciples communion every week thing).  Its hard to say what I loved about it so much, you need to go there yourself and feel it.  We promised them that we would be back.  Julie added:  I enjoyed the quiet but energized atmosphere of the evening service a Hope Central, people very welcoming, and several mentioned our mutual connections. with Wendy, Steven and Jean, esp. how helpful Wendy was in guiding their changes to becoming “Hope Central”.   I definitely want to attend one of their Taize services (second Tuesday of each month). 

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