South Meridian Church of God

Anderson, Indiana

To study, develop, and implement liturgical practices that equip worshipers for mission, and to discover gifts in the community that can be assets to the church's worship.

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

The worship ministry and community outreach teams of South Meridian Church of God will work together to study, develop, and implement liturgical practices for worship that equip our congregation for asset-based mission in our inner-city context and help us discover gifts in the congregation’s neighborhood that can be welcomed into our church’s worship. This project will enable our congregation to experience greater abundance in our worship and in our neighborhood. 

What questions have you asked about worship in the past year? 

The two main questions we have asked: 

How might our worship help our congregation see Avondale as a community of abundance? 

How can we welcome the gifts of the community into the worship life of the church? 

Others that have developed over the year: 

How can we identify gifted people, in the neighborhood and the congregation, that can help us create and engage in worship that is inspired by Avondale? 

How does thinking about and being connected to our neighborhood impact the preaching message on Sunday mornings? 

What we see here may be "accurate", but is it "complete"?  Are we seeing the whole picture or just a small piece? And if we are seeing just a small piece, how does that impact our perspective, thoughts, feelings about Avondale? 

In what ways has your project engaged your congregation so that it impacts the worship life and habits of the congregation? 

The 3 worship arts seminars were significant in engaging the congregation. Attendance for the three sessions totaled 80. 

During the first two worship arts seminars, participants walked around the Avondale neighborhood. For some, this was the first time they had spent time in the neighborhood off of church property. It was significant to some to more clearly and accurately seeing the neighborhood and its people. 

We created a "This, too, is Avondale" spot to highlight the many different parts of Avondale, its spaces and its people. This has become a way to begin to tell the more complete story of the neighborhood. 

We have invited the congregation into learning about asset-based community development in partnership with another local church. 

What criteria have you used to evaluate your plan to foster vital worship? 

In our proposal, we indicated that the compiled and printed liturgy created and shared over the past year would be the main result of the efforts to foster vital worship.  However, we have found ourselves on the beginning edge of this.  The challenging opportunities we share below have reminded us how slow the process is.  We believe we have STARTED the work of fostering vital worship, as evidenced by these examples of gifts shared in worship: 

-the Emmaus skit, written and performed by gifted people in the congregation 

-prayers and reflections written about Avondale 

-the neighbor Josh, who shared how his family neighbors here 

-our neighbor Lucia, who shared her gifts of cooking with our tutoring program 

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

We underestimated: 

-the impact of the changing seasons on connecting with neighbors in natural, unforced ways 

-the slow pace of what we are doing 

-the impact of the pandemic in the first few months of the grant 

-the comfort and availability of our congregation to actively engage intentionally in the neighborhood 

What would you like to share with other Project Directors? 

-physical reminders of the work is helpful. For us, a "wall of gifts" with post-it notes and a weekly "score card" to track our progress on engaging people and finding gifts was helpful. 

-the work may go slower than expected; the grant may mark the BEGINNING of something, not the completion. 

-there may be unexpected factors that influence for the positive or the challenging.  For us, it was the impact the changing seasons had.  Now, in May, we are at the point that we expected to be last May! 

-engage in conversations and discussions as a team throughout the process. The process is experienced differently by individuals, because of their own unique gifts, roles, experiences. This creates a richer experience when we embrace the variety.