First Presbyterian Church, Bellingham

Bellingham, Washington

To increase worshipers' awareness of God by engaging worship through different pathways and through the various ways members of the community connect with God.

 Provide a brief summary of the purpose and goal of your grant. 

We used the grant provided to explore the Sacred Pathways, as outlined in the book of the same name by Gary Thomas.  As a congregation, we explored nine different pathways for connecting with God.  The pathways included, naturalist, sensate, traditionalist, contemplative, intellectual, enthusiast, activist, caregiver, and ascetic. 

 What are two questions that have generated reflection on worship and helped shape your project?

  1. How can we learn from pathways that are not those we tend to use?   
  2. How can we grow and learn from one another as a diverse worshiping community? 

 What impact has your project had on the worship life and habits of the congregation? 

The Sacred Pathways model has offered our congregation a framework for exploration that has been a guiding light during these pandemic times.  Although many of our original plans had to be altered, our faithful grant committee enjoyed meeting monthly to hatch new ideas for how we could incorporate each pathway into our worship experience.  The feedback from those who have been involved has been overwhelmingly positive. 

 What have been your greatest challenges (or challenging opportunities)?

Certainly COVID-19 was our biggest challenge!  Not being able to meet in person to discuss and experience certainly changed what we did for the grant, but it also allowed us to be creative in how we connected with others. 

 What would you like to share with other Project Directors?

The best advice I received at the first grant meeting last year is advice I will pass on: be flexible!  Let the congregation guide you.  Get a sense of what is working for people and what is not working, and go with it.  Let the Spirit be your guide.