Light of Hope Presbyterian Church, 2020

Marietta, Georgia

To explore contextual methods of proclamation in a dinner and spirituality service that facilitates deeper participation of the community in worship.

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

Intending to bring inspiration, comfort and motivation to a community around  a bi-monthly "Dinner & Spirituality" experience where the Word would be proclaimed in stories, music, drama and crafts. The pandemic hit and we had to be resilient, adaptive and flexible. Shifting to "For Such A Time As This" (FSATAT) and using the online platforms we curated a collection of weekly storytellers and music performers sharing their gifts to inspire, comfort and encourage for such a time as this. 

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

Is online worship, worship? After denial and eventual settling into the pandemic, we soon realized the resources we had and committed to a high quality, inspirational worship, acknowledging our laments and yet celebrating God's grace. So, online worship became worship with a hopeful expectation. 

How was this kind of worship received? Some enjoyed the flexibility, while others yearn for the physical experience. However, the weekly FSATAT production was well received and created another connection. 

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

Our congregation deepened their understanding of worship and shifted from a thing we do, to a thing we need. The quarantine, isolation and social distance moved us seek creative was to experience "personal worship" online. FSATAT opened the hearts and eyes of many on the ways Jesus told stories as they experienced being a listener of an inspiring story or song. Some of the stories were not biblical stories, but the values and voice of scripture was recognized and acknowledge by the listeners. 

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

Our biggest challenge was the long uncertain desert period not knowing what to do. It was not until we truly felt that a crucial decision needed to be made that the waters began to flow. Imagination and creativity rose again and we saw an alternative to still offer inspiration, comfort and motivation "for such a time as this." Once we detached from the "around the table" we were able to imagine our project in an online format. Storytellers and musicians also embraced the need in the community. 

What would you like to share with other Project Directors?

  • Be prayerful, then you may be adaptive, flexible and resilient. 
  • Be observant and listen for what and how is God speaking, moving and presenting before us in uncertain times. 
  • Be proactive and expectant because God is there and God is not silent. 
  • Be compassionate, seeking to understand others and how they each face uncertainty. 
  • Be grateful, for God knows more that we do, sustains and provides for God's own people. 
  • Be playful, enjoy the journey, embrace the experiences and give God the glory.