Throughout the past year, many churches offered amazing works of faith, services, and ministries -- some never considered before -- all in an effort to ensure they stay relevant and integral to their communities
|Staying rooted in the community by offering amazing works of faith|
Churches have held coat drives for local shelters, but Waquoit Congregational Church in Falmouth has taken a bigger step in helping to heat up the community by becoming a 'Warming Station'. In addition to opening the parish hall when the temperature dips, and offering heat, power charging stations, and coffee, the church also hosts workshops on disaster preparedness for the community throughout the year.
Being outside and in relationship with people who often feel invisible, helps their self-esteem. There may be social services available to address some of their issues, but there isn't a way to address their spiritual needs, or the isolation they face. That's why Rev. Joan Murray founded Chaplains on the Way -- a faith-based public charity -- looking to establish relationships with people who are experiencing homelessness, living in poverty, or living with mental illness or addiction.
Heavy metal music and the "f" word were blasting at a service at Union Evangelical Church, where bean bag chairs were spread about and snacks and candles were handy. When teens needed to grieve the sudden loss of a friend who wasn't involved in any faith community, the Hopedale church created a space where friends and community could grieve, and ask questions about funerals and memorials since for many teens, this would be their first encounter with the death of a contemporary. It was not the kind of church service that they had ever done before, but they all agreed it was the kind of service that they were glad to do.
In an effort to reach more families in the community, West Barnstable offered a 'come as you are, be who you are' shorter Saturday service that kept families together. This inclusive service is designed to have a relaxed atmosphere but at the same time keep people moving with the spirit.
Over a seven-hour period, volunteers from eight Sudbury congregations, includingMemorial Congregational Church of Sudbury, helped scoop dry goods, weighed and sealed bags, and then packed and lifted boxes. By the time it was over, 40,218 shelf-stable meals were paid for, put together, and sent to ten area food pantries where they were made available to families who struggle to put meals on the table.
Big green farm tractors lined the street outside the First Congregational Church of Sheffield as the congregation celebrated and thanked the farmers for the essential role they play in providing fresh local produce, dairy and meat to the community, and for being stewards and guardians of the land.
Second Congregational Church of Greenfield offered a New Year's Eve service of song, prayer and silence in the Taize tradition. While revelers were blowing horns and lighting fireworks at midnight, worship goers were learning beautiful chants and enjoying a calming service.
First Congregational Church of Somerville produced a radically welcoming outreach ministry using the creative arts of drag, music and theatre to evangelize to populations who may feel unwelcome in church. The Drag Gospel Festival is an annual event that serves to raise money for the LGBT Asylum Support Task Force, and raises awareness that the church is open and affirming and welcomes all.
The mission of the Foster Memorial Church Events Team is to provide opportunities to engage members and the wider community in family events that are affordable, entertaining, and relevant,as well as provide exposure to the church and facilities as a meaningful place in the Springfield community. In addition to community tag sales and craft fairs on the church lawn, the church offers movie nights and poetry sharing events, all in a very comfortable and non-pressured atmosphere.
First Congregational Church of Saugus offers free Narcan training sessions once a month, in addition to offering meeting space to Narcotics Anonymous, a non-profit group that provides a safe space for those struggling with addictions. Narcan is an emergency nasal spray that can bring a person out of a heroin or opioid overdose. Special efforts are also being made to reach out to Saugus teens, whose drug addictions have become a major social, legal and spiritual problem.
Tell us about your amazing works of faith!