St. John’s Church

Dubuque, Iowa

To deepen worshipers' experience of the Eucharist by learning together, sharing testimonies, varying practices, and living into the connection of the Eucharist to mission.

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

Because the Eucharist is at the heart of our life together, we plan to implement a year-long study of the Eucharist, to help us re-engage with this sacrament joyfully and thoughtfully. The goal of this project is to provide basic catechesis about the history, meaning, and importance of the Eucharist through a series of top-notch speakers, expanding our library, and congregation wide studies of the Eucharist. This will strengthen our congregation’s commitment to the practice of weekly Eucharistic worship. This project will introduce the congregation to the variety of ways that the Eucharist is celebrated, both within the Episcopal Church, worldwide Anglican Communion, and by other Christian Traditions. 

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

We seek to ask questions about how people participate in Eucharist. For example: what does Holy Communion communicate about God? What does Holy Communion communicate about how worshippers see their church’s purpose? What does Holy Communion communicate about humanity’s relationship with God? 

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

We have had several people in our congregation describe how their worship has expanded and deepened thanks to the multiple speakers from different denominations and the multiple voices in our book discussions explaining a specifically Anglican view of the Eucharist. There is a beautiful movement that happens during our morning, monthly Forums. We talk about the Eucharist, then go up and actually partake in the Eucharist together. In one of our final book discussions, our conversation has turned towards a "so what?" question as we consider how the Eucharist prepares us for life outside of the church building: we become what we eat, transformed by the body and blood of Christ in order to feed the world. 

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

So far, we have met every other month to evaluate what we have learned throughout the events and experiences, noting areas that we would like to continue to grow in. Near the end of the project we will gather members of the congregation for reflection on what we’ve done during the project year and what we have experienced and learned (this will happen June 4th at the Parish Retreat). In the reflection groups and with the Vestry participants will be asked specially about our goal areas: Eucharistic Catechesis, Eucharistic Devotion, Eucharistic Variety, and Eucharistic Ministry. 

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

The greatest challenges include: my own personal schedule and the limits I have had in leading some of the goals; the energy of our congregation; the lack of availability for speakers throughout the community due to their own schedules, limits, and interests. 

What would you like to share with other Project Directors? 

Be encouraged! Some of the events and activities will have seemed to have lost steam due to interest, COVID changes, or your own schedule, but seeds are being planted and continued learning will be sustained by the memorable events that you are organizing and providing.