The growing number of you who have connected with EDGE’s work will know that the rich new frontier for ministry is our daily bread. Transformational leaders today are pioneers of ministry in a new landscape.
The good news: The outcomes for ministries who are able to really engage the few (but essential) principles which reincarnate the gospel in post-modern culture are remarkable.
It is true people are deeply yearning for the connection, belonging, grounding, wisdom, justice and hope that life in Christ offers. It’s clear, but it’s not easy. We can get there together. Making that journey, together, is the purpose that has driven EDGE to create a network of consultants across the country, develop learning cohorts to nurture missional leaders, gather and train coaches for leaders seeking to excel in missional, transformational leadership, and make cutting edge ideas accessible through 3 webinars a month. That is what inspired our partnership with Moderator Gary Paterson to imagine Destination Greenbelt. And we are hearing regularly about the impact of this kind of collaboration for the turning of ministries.
“St. Mark’s is extremely pleased with the consultation provided by [Edge Consultant] Rev. Russ. With his help, we are off to a solid start in transforming and growing our congregation in the coming months and years. Should you have other churches interested in the services of the EDGE group in this area, please feel free to refer them to me and I will relate our very positive experience.” Chair of the Board, St. Mark’s United Church, Saint John
We have also had the privilege of working with and fostering new ministries, fresh expressions of church from Yoga Chapel to Intentional Communities, to music schools that connect music with spiritual expression with community with worship. It’s amazing! You can see just a few of the vital and emerging ministries that God is raising up for a new day in this video.
That is our frontier or “outside” pioneering work.
Jonny Baker also talks about the need for ‘inside’ pioneers. These are people working within the church structures to advocate, make space for, and support the “outside” pioneers to explore the opportunities God is setting before us. Some distinguish these as “modal” vs. “sodal” forms of mission. The work of these ‘inside’ pioneers is to help move towards a careful and principled loosening of the structures in order to make space for experimentation, learning, leaps of faith into new territory. Sometimes this means advocating for new ministry leaders feeling called to other than “traditional looking” ministries, sometimes it means claiming the space that already exists within our polity or exploring new policy, sometimes it means fostering a culture of “Yes and” rather than, a culture of “No, unless…” which often accompanies a time of fear about the future. We’ve got to stop “shoulding” ourselves to death and beating each other up. Lets’ celebrate innovation, enjoy our curiosity and learn from our experiments. Measurement and evaluation is key to this learning. This inside pioneering is something we can all be about in the places where we are planted. Edge has recently being called more formally into “inside” pioneering as we have worked with GCO Units and with the Comprehensive Review Task Group to consult with faith communities across the church.
Inside or out, Edge is looking for allies to proclaim an alternative narrative about these times, one that attends with awe to what God is doing, right now, right here.
Executive Director of EDGE
The Comprehensive Review Process – Yes we can!
Buying United – Just how much United Churches have saved by working together!
The Power of Network
Destination Greenbelt – Greenbelt Canada? 2017?
Living Waters Presbytery, north of Toronto, is very pleased to report on the success of this new strategy. During the last year we developed a programme in partnership with EDGE, working closely with Rob Dalgleish and Lesley Harrison.
During last winter we held several sessions with Presbytery Reps to demonstrate the potential and to iron out any issues. There was very strong support and so we moved forward.
Throughout May, EDGE ran a series of Vision Days for congregations, to provide both context of where we are today and the need to look for new ways of “being Church”. We also provided an invitation for a facilitated process and tools that would be customized to the individual requirements of each congregation. Living Waters committed to provide 2/3 of the funding cost of this program. 65 people attended these sessions from 26 congregations.
We are now excitedly moving forward in 16 congregations, with initial discussions with Transition Teams and meetings with congregations, to provide the context and then to move into the tough but wonderful work of reshaping the many aspects of church life.
We are very pleased that EDGE brings its national perspective and wonderful examples of great things that are happening across Canada and elsewhere in the world. There is nothing but positive response to the caring professionalism of the planning and facilitation team,
We know that as the success of the process becomes clear, many other congregations will follow in awakening their collective and individual Spiritual Abundance.
Terry Davies, Chair of Vision & Church Development Commission
**Bold spoken words, Italicized actions**
Honouring that which is most Holy
(hands together in prayer mode in front of the heart)
Accept from me
(gradually open hands and raise arms above head in prayer gesture)
The spirit of my soul
(bring hands facing forward together over head so that the little fingers link together. This forms a kind of butterfly or spirit symbol. Draw this “butterfly” down to the heart as you say “soul”. This sounds harder to do than it actually is.)
I place it in this vessel
(hands come down to abdominal level and form a cup container-feel the weight of the offering it contains)
And offer it up
(raise the hand container slowly and intentionally above the head as an offering to God)
Pour down your gentle blessing upon me
(Open hands, turn palms with fingers open backwards as you move fingers in rain-like movement down to your shoulders)
As I stand before you with an open heart
(Open hands, palms forward moved to sides in a “stick ‘em-up” movement – an attitude of surrender and openness)
Bless my mind that it may think with clarity and wisdom
(hands touch the head)
Bless my eyes that they may see beauty and truth around me
Bless my ears that they may hear the pain and joy of life
Bless my mouth that it may speak your truth
Bless my heart that I may have the passion and compassion to respond
Bless my whole body that it may be a temple of your Spirit
(one hand on heart, another on abdomen)
Bless my hands that they may touch life with tenderness and healing
Bless my feet that they may root me to the earth and carry me where you would have me go
(reach out towards feet, not necessarily touching)
Bless my soul that it may always join me to your Love and to the world You created and love
(raise hands in a straight line through the centre of the body above the head, then open them outwards to make a circle as you say the words. At the end reach out to take the hand of the person on either side of you if you are doing this in a group)
Sharon Moon, 2012
Many traditions use a simple meditative experience that involves walking intentionally present to the moment. Walking meditation involves mindful walking; bringing awareness to the feeling of the feet as they touch the earth or floor; being aware of the movement of the body as it walks. It is about being intentionally in the experience of the moment. Most of us spend the largest part of our lives distanced from the experience of being fully present; to our selves; to our world; to the nudging of God’s Spirit.
Walking meditation can be done anywhere; on the street, in the corridors where you work, in a park. It can also be done in a labyrinth. Labyrinths have become more commonly used in our congregations over the past ten years. There are vast resources on labyrinths in libraries, but particularly on the web. A place to start is www.gracecathedral.org/labyrinth/ An internet search will bring rich reading about not only creating, but also using labyrinths for walking meditation.
One can walk a question; a feeling; a struggle; a grief process; a scripture; or really any kind of spiritual work. Or one can simply walk with an openness to listen for God, and a desire to be fully present in the moment.
If you do not have access to a labyrinth, a simple way to introduce people to walking meditation is to invite them to a time of mindful relaxation and silence.
I often use a simple line from a psalm, or other scripture as a mantra for centering and focus. The line from scripture takes on new nuances and meanings as one walks intentionally with it. At times one word may jump out more powerfully than the others. Simply allow the experience to open you to the nudging of God’s Spirit.
OPENING TO GOD IN CREATION (a simple walking meditation)
Close your eyes … Become aware of this body-self that is you, as you come to meditation today … Focus on your breath … Notice the pattern of your breathing … as it moves in … as it moves out … Notice how fast are you breathing … Notice whether you are breathing deeply or shallowly … Notice where your body moves when you breathe … Is the movement in your chest, or in your belly?..
Watch your breathing for a few minutes and notice any changes that occur … You may find that just attending to your breath will allow you to relax … As you focus and breathe let your breaths become slower and deeper … Let your body relax and move to a sense of peace …
Notice where your body is sore or tense … Imagine the breath moving to that place … and gently massaging the tightened knots of tension … or fear … or anger … Simply allow the breath to open up your body so that your life energy can flow freely … You are preparing yourself for prayer …
As you focus on your breathing … you may notice thoughts coming and going … Just notice the thoughts, and then let them go … You may want to imagine them as clouds floating across the horizon, or have some other image that allows you to let them go … As thoughts arise, gently return your focus to your breath … Notice the space that opens inside you as you relax … as you gradually come into your sacred centre …
Ask God to bless your walking meditation and to use it for your highest good of mind, body and spirit … As you walk, I invite you to allow the following scripture to resonate in your mind … in your body … in your spirit … and in your experience.
CHOOSE ANY ONE OF THE FOLLOWING SCRIPTURES, OR ANY OTHER SHORT SCRIPTURE THAT YOU WOULD LIKE THE GROUP TO FOCUS ON. REPEAT IT ABOUT 5 TIMES SLOWLY, THEN ALLOW THE GROUP TO GET UP AND MOVE.
“The earth is full of your goodness, O God.” Ps. 33:5
” You show me the path of life, O God. In your presence there is fullness of joy.” Ps. 16:11
“Be still and know that I am God.” Ps. 46:10
” You turn a desert into pools of water, a parched land into springs of water. Ps. 107:35
“Lead me in your truth and teach me for you are the God of my salvation (healing wholeness).” Ps 25:5
“O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.” Ps 104:24
“I have come that you might have life, and have it abundantly” John 10:10
“With you is the fountain of life.” Ps 36:9
“It was you, O God, who made my inmost self, you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Ps 139:13-14
Sharon Moon, July 2012
As the temperatures soar, vacations and stay-cations are planned and taken, and lazy days loom, EDGE staff and consultants will be keeping busy throughout August.
Joining with commissioners, guests, and other UCC staff, EDGE will be present at the 41st General Council in Ottawa from August 11 – 18. Rob Dalgleish and Lesley Harrison will be on site, speaking with those attending from across Canada, showcasing all that EDGE has to offer to congregations large and small, rural and urban, presbyteries, conferences, ordered ministers and lay leaders, and everything in between. If you’ll be attending General Council this year, please stop by the EDGE table, or find Rob and Lesley throughout the event and during open time to chat and ask questions about how vital ministry can be part of your context.
Switchings gears from Ottawa to Cheltenham, England, EDGE staff together with 18 coaches and consultants from across Canada, will be the UCC contingent attending the Greenbelt festival, where arts, faith, and justice collide. Greenbelt began in 1974 as ‘The Nice People’s Pop Festival’, and it is now a “collision of the arts, faith and justice. Engaged with culture, inspired by the arts, sustained by faith, we aspire to be an open, generous community, reimagining the Christian narrative for the present moment.”
While in England, EDGE will be visiting a variety of Fresh Expressions ministries, learning from and meeting artists, thinkers, activists and people of passion. To find out more about what EDGE will be experiencing, you can find out more about Greenbelt on their website or from their official Twitter account and Facebook page..
To keep track of EDGE throughout the summer, be sure to follow us on Twitter @edge_ucc, as well as the hashtags for General Council (#GC41) and Greenbelt (#GB12). We’ll be sure to keep our Facebook page up to date with photos and anecdotes as well. We’d love for you to follow along with our adventures, and join in the conversation with us!
Combining our prayers with our breath is one of the simplest and most profound ways of “praying constantly in the Spirit”. Breath and spirit are deeply connected in scripture. In Hebrew the word rauch is translated as “wind,” “breath,” and “spirit.” “In the beginning”, it was this wind/breath of God that breathed over chaos creating life. Adamah, created from dust only came alive when the breath of God brought life to human beings. In John’s gospel, Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit into the despondent disciples, reminiscent of the breath from the four directions that breathed life and connection into the valley of dry bones in the ancient story from Ezekiel.
In a culture that forgets to breathe, we often use only the very top part of our lungs. We take breath for granted as we take spiritual life for granted. One of the most simple but profound spiritual prayers we can practice is breath prayer.
Breath prayer works with the rhythm of the breath and creates a mantra-like prayer. The “Jesus Prayer” is perhaps the best known and widely practiced of these. (Breath in “Lord Jesus Christ” breath out “ have mercy on me”)
However we can choose any phrase or affirmation that calls to our soul, and connects with our spiritual longing whether it is biblical or not.
“Be still and know” (on the breath in)
“that I am God” (on the breath out)
“I am worthy” (on the breath in)
“I release fear” (on the breath out)
“I am healing” (on the breath in)
“I rest in God” (on the breath out)
“Ground me God” (on the breath in)
“in your grace” (on the breath out)
“Holy One” (on the breath in)
“breathe through me” (on the breath out)
Be still and listen to the longings of your own soul and create the prayer that connects with the rhythm of your own soul, and of your own breath. It will centre you in the presence of the Holy right in the centre of your own life and challenges.
Sharon Moon, May 2012
Phyllis Tickle – Key Note Speaker at More than Franchises
With a delightful, dynamic & engaging style Phyllis shares insights and hope from her work The Great Emergence: How Christianity is Changing and Why. With energy and passion that captures imaginations Phyllis talks about her awareness that every 500 years the church has a rummage sale and gets rid of all the things it has collected over the years that are not worth carrying into the future. We are at the end of one of those 500 year cycles.
On the flap of her book cover Phyllis is described as
“an internationally renowned expert on religion … [who] has incisive perspective on the trends and transformations of our time…. She invites us into a conversation as she shares her reflections stemming from not only personal faith but also decades of observation and analysis. The result is a work that meets the challenge of chronicling a pivotal time in the church’s history so we might better understand where we have been and what the future holds. Tickle clearly lays out the gradual steps leading up to this transformation, including the influences and effects of Darwin, Freud, Einstein, the automobile and technological advances. She then sets her sights on where we’re going, leaving us with a vision of an exciting future for the Church.”
Check out details at www.morefranchises.ca
So I have spoken with lots of folks about the More than Franchises: A Fresh Brew event ….. and I want to be sure you have all the info you need to share your excitement with others when you tap them on the shoulder and encourage them to be part of this amazing opportunity!
First a note to ministers ….. If you can’t come to this event ….. that’s okay ….. BUT it is an event you will want to ENCOURAGE OTHERS TO GO!…. In these times of change ….. it is critical to have as many people as possible be knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the changes we will experience as the church seeks to not get caught in survival mode but instead be relevant and transformative in the world today.
When you talk to folks about this event the following info might help you share why they would want to go:
- people leave these events inspired by what they have learned and experienced around the multitude of emerging practices and possibilities that are creating new life in churches across Canada
- the workshops are not led by theorists ….. they are primarily led by people who are engaged in activity that has been transformative in their congregation
- the gift of the opportunity for networking to share both joys and struggles which allows people to know their congregation is not alone
- keynote speaker Phyllis Tickle provides a broad over view of the historical realities that help us understand this time of mega transition that we are since it happens every 500 years, including reflecting on what is emerging
- there will be a trade fair with all the major things that all our churches need to purchase ….. and with so many of us across the nation, arrangements have been made to provide significant discounts for our key expenses – come check it out.
Consider the following possibilities as you try to figure out how you can get a group of people to the event:
- people can share a registration …. so if you can’t come for it all ….. someone else can use your registration
- learning grants are available of $1200 for groups of 5 or more …..AND to equal the requirement of 5 you can count people who are not able to be at the event but are willing to be in the circle to explore how to implement the new ideas shared at More Franchises
- it is possible to register for just one day
- the registration team is willing to connect people to create a group large enough for a learning circle grant (which includes a commitment to gather 6 times over the next year)
- if you register 5 people on line at one time you get a 20% discount
The registration deadline is Monday June 4th. It might seem a bit tight to make these arrangements now but I am finding that at this stage more people are willing to commit because the event is close enough that they know their schedule. And I continuously find that people will promptly say yes if their schedule and finances will allow it (only $60 a person if all options are used)….. but ONLY IF they are personally invited which indicates someone thinks it would be great if they went on behalf of the congregation.
The event is Saturday June 16 to Monday June 18 with three pre-conference event options on June 15. It is being hosted at Emmanuel College in Toronto.
Hope to see you or some of the folks from your congregation or presbytery in June!
Karen Hilfman Millson
Group buying is common place today. With GroupOn, DealFinder, and many other deal websites open for business, the concept of group buying is more popular than ever. But these concepts have been used by corporations for decades. Wal-Mart popularized this of making efficiency a business strategy, focusing on volume purchase discounts and streamlined transportation. These best practices have slowly rolled out to almost every ‘for profit’ business type from healthcare services to Tim Hortons.
As United Church has more locations than Tim Horton’s, group buying quickly becomes a powerful tool. Even more so within Canada, where 10 locations is considered significant. The average group buying program is reported to save an average of 13.4% of total expenses for the members. Any congregation would consider this significant.
At More Than Franchises, EDGE will be presenting the possibilities of group buying with vendors who have preferential pricing and service packages. Some examples to look out for;
Energy Contracts. Energy is listed as a top 3 expense for most church facilities. Independent contracts are not able to negotiate preferential rates. However, with 10 churches combined savings jump to 10-15%, and at 50 or more churches combined these savings will continue to grow to over 20%. We have already collected 7 sets of energy bills to begin this process, and are very close to being able to provide instant savings.
Roofing. Labour is the most expensive portion of roofing. We are currently speaking with multiple roofing companies to come up with preferential pricing that will be a new comparison point for anyone that is roof shopping. Plus we will be presenting maintenance packages and reducing pricing on other building products.
Technology. Telecommunications, computers, software, website, and photocopiers are becoming increasingly important to the operation of a church. New, cost effective solutions will be presented to you. For instance, don’t have a website? Learn to use Google Sites for $10/year. Need software upgrades? Cloud functionality will be demonstrated.
Coming to More Than Franchises will now be able to save you money! Can you afford not to come?