The Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd

Olympia, Washington

To design a worship gathering contextual to the cultural context, focusing on contemplative, creation-grounded worship that emphasizes the connectedness of all of life and engages in quiet reflection, art, and music to encounter God.

Summarize your grant project and how it will address a need in your worshiping community. 

We will create an ecumenical contemplative service that we hope will attract “spiritual but not religious” people who are looking for hope and community. Fellowship among worshipers will be encouraged through social time, both as part of the worship evening and through special events such as guest speakers and a community music workshop. We seek to reach out with a wide welcome to fellowship times, meals, and worship services that connect to spiritual longings for less-left-brained worship. 

What two questions might you ask about worship in the coming year that will generate theological reflection and shape your project? 

How do the “Nones” with spiritual longings find their way to communities of worship in our time and place? 

When we open ourselves to both left and right brain experiences (thought and senses), how does that open up our experience of the gospel? 

 How will your project impact the worship life and habits of the congregation?

For this effort we must turn our gaze outward and consider the spiritual needs of the wider community, not only the needs for mercy and direct aid that we are adept at ministering to. We are seeking ways to express God’s love that meet people where they are, recognizing that some may have been hurt by past religious experiences. This is a huge opportunity for spiritual growth and potentially healing for regular worshippers and newcomers and wonderers looking in.  We hope that offering an alternative “whole body” worship experience paired with community-building will inspire all who participate. 

What might be your greatest challenges (or challenging opportunities)?

    The people we most hope to reach are also likely to be the most dubious about trying out an event sponsored by a church. We need an extensive and thoughtful outreach effort to make this experiment feel like a good adventure, and we need a lot of prayer! What we learn from this experience is likely to shape outreach going forward. 

    What do you hope to learn from the Grants Event and other grant recipients?

      This is a first-time experience for our congregation, so learning more about the creative experiments of other faith communities will be helpful and inspiring.  Also seeing what other recipients are doing could lead to even more ideas, as well as relationships with other organizations.