A place to share resources, events, stories of our lives together in mission.

Starting the middle of this month, the MSN website will feature one of the 4 goals identified in the 2007 Bishop's Commission on Mission Strategy report. Spiritual Transformation, Goal #1, is the focus in January and you are invited to share information about the spiritual practicies/renewal present in your own life and in your congregation. The MSN team working on goal #1 is particularly interested in your experience with Gospel-Based Discipleship and spiritual gifts' discernment. As for the last 6 1/2 years of my own life, I have been spending the first 30-minutes each day writing "morning pages". This practice has produced eleven 500-page notebooks of mostly insignificant musings, but emerging now and then are words of profound healing, hope, forgiveness, delight, solutions to problems and problems needing solutions. I rarely re-read them and seldom share them as they are really tangible signs of my personal prayer life. They have and do spiritually transform me, my relationships with others and scripture and with God.

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We here at the church of the Holy Communion have started several Scripture studies surrounding our Wednesday evening prayer service. Which has truly added to our spiritual renewal. The first Wednesday of the month is a straight out study of scripture in our Parish Hall, led by Father Harries this particular study generally draws from our congregation and our Evangelism group. The point of study that evening is the Gospel reading for that Sunday. Allowing the congregation the opportunity to study, ask questions, and put that Gospel to work in our lives. It most certainly has made the Gospel very personal to those who attend.

The second Wednesday is our Theology and a Pint study at our local Pub, Patricks.Aimed towards younger folks in our community. We received positive media response in the form of an article in our local news paper, the St Peter Herald. We also gained the attention of nonmembers and curiosity seekers, allowing us to proclaim Christs word in the greater community, while making St. Peter aware of our presence. It was our first attempt at this concept. We hope to try again next year.

The third Wednesday known as wonderful Wednesdays is aimed at our senior population, shut ins, and those who are alone. We prepare a meal in the parish hall, and serve dinner family style, right after evening prayer giving everyone in attendance the opportunity to know each other on a more personal level. Nothing like breaking bread, we then break into an easy lets get to understand Gods Word study that is comfortable for all in attendance.

All of these opportunities have brought folks into our doors, not in great masses but one by one, and that is one of the greatest spiritual highs you can have reaching out, sharing Gods word and making new friends. It just doesn't get much better. So the Grace of God we look forward to building our Episcopal Church community through our Wednesday evening studies.

Your Brother in Christ;

Richard E. Tostenson
Church of the Holy Communion
St. Peter, MN. 56082
Goal #1 at St. James-on-the-Parkway, Minneapolis
Gospel Based Discipleship
Our rector, Father Theo Park, has periodically used GBD with groups and meetings within the parish. This past year he conducted GBD in place of the sermon on two occasions. Then, in Advent we used GBD in our Sunday morning Adult Forum using the assigned Psalms for the season. These texts were reproduced using three different versions as handouts. The participants found the process to be a valuable discipline for quiet meditation and a launching pad for spirited sharing and discussion at the end of each session.
Mission Strategy
The topic of the Mission Strategy has been addressed quarterly in our Adult Forum. In the Forum the last Sunday of 2008 we delved into the topic of transformation in greater depth using three questions: (1) What would a transformed church look like?, (2) How would you know a transformed person if you met one?, (3) How could transformation happen? We closed that session with a discussion of Romans 12:2 and the list of "behaviors of the transformed" that Paul gives in verses 10-21. (This was all too much content for one session. Had I had it to do over I would have scheduled multiple sessions for this discussion.)
And Continuing...
St. James is blessed to have in our midst two resources for our continued work on transformation. The Rev. Margaret Fell, our assistant priest, has a history of conducting Spiritual Discernment Workshop both here and elsewhere. A lay member, Margot Rideaux-Crenshaw, is a certified Spiritual Advisor.
Finally, our recently established partnership with a parish in Haiti is a new and challenging addition to our ministries outside our walls further expanding our growth in the faith, i.e. transformation.
We at St. David's are in the twilight of our interim period, so we are eager to receive our new spiritual leader. By coincidence (or something else?) we are in a parallel process to the diocese, modeling ourselves as a “missional church”, centering around our outreach which has always been plentiful, and is also a means of long time self identification. What is missing is the link of this work (deed) to the Gospel (word).

We have began a year long study of the missional church from all angles—even some of non Christian faiths. Mission is something we share with the Islamic and Jewish faiths. Of course the basis for our work is in the Bible, where our study has taken us. We hope to lay the foundations for the how, why and by whom we are called into mission. It is then that this work can be spiritually transformative.

Specific to spiritual practices, as part of our interim ministry have turned inward to our own spiritual needs. Though various Bible study groups and fellowship events we are able to rest and reflect as we gear up for the next phase of our parish life together. We have a ladies prayer group (mainly younger mothers) that meets weekly. We are studying a Biblically based book about the spiritual gifts of women, as well as praying together, sharing our hope and joys, as well as our sorrows. There is a men's prayer group on Saturday mornings which caters to an older set. There are also a couple of weekly multigenerational Bible studies.

We can’t forget our youth! We have begun the transition of our Sunday School curriculum to Godly Play. It seems to me that this active form of learning and worship is a means of engaging children in certain practices that will shape them spiritually. Through Godly Play children can “be” AND “do”. What would happen if we taught our children these practices at an early age--how would our parish be transformed? During Advent we also had a pair of Mary and Joseph dolls that traveled from home to home of various parishioners. It gave our young families an Advent activity that got children engaged in a dialogue about how Mary and Joseph must have felt on their journey. Each household provided their own kind on “hospitality”, a gift for the young future parents of Jesus.

Regarding Gospel Based Discipleship: this practice as been introduced and practiced by the vestry on occasion, as well as it has been presented to the general congregation at the Adult Education hour on Sundays. Now we need to have a conscious effort via clergy and lay planning and execution to begin incorporating it more fully into our parish life

We await our new rector with open arms and look forward to having a new spiritual leader to help engage us in new spiritual practices. We would be very open to spiritual gifts discernment and learning more about it. That is the beauty of an interim period—you must be open to change, as change is inevitable.

Rena Turnham
St. David’s, Minnetonka
Greetings from Holy Trinity Church, Luverne. We just lost our Total Ministry priest of 5 years to a church in Ohio two weeks ago, so the idea or transformation is a potent one! I am writing as a Senior Warden who is "running things"- our congregation is very small (10 to 15 on a good Sunday) and I spoke to them yesterday about Goal#1 but I wasn't really sure how to explain what this goal is asking us to do. I love Anne's idea of writing every morning, and we do have Bible study on Sunday nights (attended more by townspeople than members) but any concrete ideas you have would be so welcome. I came to Luverne from a large church in the Chicago area in which one could just "coast along" due to its size-I wish I had paid better attention to the programs there! This site is already very helpful to me.
Many thanks for listening,. Emily Lodine Overgaard
Ted Peters in his self titled Blog wrote about a cool hammer he discovered, he says, “Steve Jobs says that the definition of a perfectly designed product is one you want to lick. BMW claims that one of its cars is radically thrilling. Economists agree that inducing people to open their wallets is the cure to the recession. And I claim it all boils down to the right kind of hammer. A hammer you want to lick. A hammer that is radically thrilling. And a hammer that induces you to make an expenditure that you hadn't intended to make.”

Like that hammer, we are working hard to discover how we can create a radically thrilling, lickable and compelling community of faith. Renewal has been happening in the Garden for the past three years on many levels.

At the center of that renewal is encouragement of the sower’s in the Garden to share their passions. What gifts do they have that they are passionate about, how can we build a community that is built less on obligations and more on the passions of who we are as sower’s in the Garden.

It has been a phenomenal success: our stewardship program placed at its core the work of gifts sharing, less discernment, because we operate under the assumption that many of our members already know what they are good at and what passions reside in their hearts and souls. Every pledge card we received had comments about the skills and passions that people offered as part of their 2009 pledge. This is renewal that is compelling people to make commitments they had not expected to make when they first walked into the Garden. Better yet, we have been able to incorporate people’s desires into the ministry of the Garden seamlessly.

• The pulpit has been opened up to members of the congregation who believe they can speak to the activity of God in our lives.
• Members of the congregation are leading programs and adult forums teaching and sharing ideas about theology and spirituality, as well as doing Bible Study.
• Groups and Taskforces are being formed out of the needs people see in the community with in the Church and without. And they are accomplished without having to receive the Vicar’s permission to proceed. No committees allowed!
• We are moving onto the web in force and with enthusiasm because people have ideas and dreams about how to expand the Garden using the gifts and skills they have.
• Developing online community to enhance connection and communication on the days between Sundays.
• Worship teams have been formed to engage the congregation more fully in the planning and implementation of worship, much like the teams at St John’s Linden Hills, which was our inspiration.
• Many of the tools and spiritual practices of GBD and prayer have created an energy that has transformed who we are and what we do.

Because of its engagement in Gifts Sharing, spiritual practices and renewal Gethsemane is a growing, vibrant mission Church for the current members and clergy and we have a vision. God is moving at Gethsemane.

Submitted by the Vicar and Wardens of Gethsemane Church, Minneapolis
Good afternoon from Holy Trinity St. Anskar. We have two new opportunities coming up that relate to Goal #1. Firstly, our priest, Father Bill Teska, is away until Easter. This means that as a congregation, and a very small one, we have a unique opportunity to become more involved in our morning prayer service. Our senior warden usually leads a community reflection in place of a homily. This is a chance for members to share what the day's scripture is saying to them or just what stuck out to them most. We have discussed using this time to do a more formal Gospel-Based Discipleship session, but are somewhat concerned about the length that this would add to an already not-short service.

Secondly, we are starting a new round of our parish bible study. We meet bi-weekly at a member's home to discuss a book of the Bible or other text of interest to the group. This month we will be starting a reading and discussion of John Cowen's book, Taking Jesus Seriously: Buddhist Meditation for Christians. We are very excited about the effect that this text could have both on our personal and communal worship experience.
Started pray chain , and working with Life Cycles

submitted by Gunther Austin, Good Samaritan, Sauk Centre
Jill-
I wrote back but I think sent it on plain old email. You sound like you're in good shape! I love the idea of Buddist Meditation but it would be very hard to introduce that to our group-I am the only cradle Episc. and many of them came from FERVENT Baptist families,,,it's the Bible and that's that. I am hoping that the woman who is taking it over from our priest who left will be more innovating. I'll let you know-
Best, Emily Lodine Overgaard, Holy Trinity

Jill Schrader said:
Good afternoon from Holy Trinity St. Anskar. We have two new opportunities coming up that relate to Goal #1. Firstly, our priest, Father Bill Teska, is away until Easter. This means that as a congregation, and a very small one, we have a unique opportunity to become more involved in our morning prayer service. Our senior warden usually leads a community reflection in place of a homily. This is a chance for members to share what the day's scripture is saying to them or just what stuck out to them most. We have discussed using this time to do a more formal Gospel-Based Discipleship session, but are somewhat concerned about the length that this would add to an already not-short service.

Secondly, we are starting a new round of our parish bible study. We meet bi-weekly at a member's home to discuss a book of the Bible or other text of interest to the group. This month we will be starting a reading and discussion of John Cowen's book, Taking Jesus Seriously: Buddhist Meditation for Christians. We are very excited about the effect that this text could have both on our personal and communal worship experience.
Started pray chain , and working with Life Cycles

comments from Gunther Austin, Good Samaritan, Sauk Centra
I am writing as the representative from Church of the Advent in Farmington where I am one of several supply priests. The parish has addressed the development of their spiritual transformation in several ways recently. The role of the prayer leader in the parish is very important to the worship services. The prayers are selected carefully each week as needs are brought to the attention of the prayer leader, but there is also a steady support system for members of the community outside of the worship times. This particular church has a strong involvement in supporting the members of the Armed Services, particularly those in war zones.
The introduction to the scriptures read in the liturgy also allows the people to understand the importance of the lessons in their lives. It allows the readings to "come alive" for the listeners each week.
In my homily for Jan. 18, 2009, I will use a modified form of the Gospel Based Discipleship learning process for spiritual reflection. Other supply priests may have also used the GBD in their time with the parish, and at meeting times with parish members.
The Church of the Advent has allowed their members to exercise their spiritual gifts for many years, but there is a new, vital understanding of the importance of these gifts as the parish moves to Total Team Ministry work. The Rev. Carolyn Schmidt will lead the parish through this transformation in the upcoming year. Grace and Peace to all of you! Elaine Barber
Susan Fritz, Contact Person from St. James, Marshall, reported that a group gathers every Wednesday evening at 6:30 for compline and Gospel-Based Discipleship. They also use this form of scripture study to begin Vesty meetings and will offer "Life Cycles" for study during Lent.
Hi, I'm the representative from St. Luke's Hastings, and we have many ways in which Goal 1 plays out in our lives. The Spiritual Transformation aspect of course, includes attending and participating in regular worship services, individual prayer and meditation, Bible study programs, weekly prayer group meetings, and even in our weekly food shelf offering presented at the altar by the children in church.

Another dimension to Spiritual Transformation includes visits to individuals by our Lay Eucharistic Team and our Pastoral Care Team. This expands spiritual transformation to those who need/want to stay connected to Christ and to St. Luke's. Still another aspect of this transformation is our Shared Ministry Team's participation in our community by taking the Episcopal Morning Prayer service to two nursing homes in Hastings 5 or 6 times a year.

Expanding my thoughts about this goal then helped me see things in still another way.

We have many small groups who work together and renew each other as well, I began to see that Choir & Musicians, ECW, our "Piecing it Together" Quilters, the Readers group, Sunday School and our Youth Group all are ways in which everyone maintains their own relationship with Christ and continually renews and supports each other in their life in Christ.

The other part of goal 1 is "Fuller Participation in God's Mission" and since God's mission for us is to help bring others to Christ, we decided that Evangelism belongs here. How do we bring Christ to our community? Our Annual Spring Fling Garage Sale is actually a community service (everything is 50 cents unless otherwise marked) as much as it is a fundraiser. It is an opportunity to get acquainted with many people who need Christ in their lives and share what we have with them. We make and sell pies at one of Hastings Summer Concerts each year and that's another opportunity to witness to God's Love for others. Our Youth Group's mission trip to Sisseton, S. D., was an opportunity for them to share their love of Christ with others in both tangible and intangible ways.

We then, looked at Goal 1 and decided that it was about the 3-legged stool that cannot stand without all 3. One is the individual spiritual transformation, second is the small group support for our individual spiritual renewal and both of those things leads us to the third which is to participate in God's mission of introducing others to Christ.

Lyn

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