Sunday was a little different, wasn't it? The room was turned 90°, the children's area was split into three distinct spaces, several lights were dimmed, and the screen was replaced by paper bulletins. Why all the changes? Overall, we hoped to create a more peaceful, engaging, and worshipful space for adults and children of all ages. A few ways the new setup helps us do this:
The kids can integrate into worship throughout the sanctuary, rather than all clustering at the back (more like our outdoor setup at #canopychurch). This was a tweak many people requested in their annual reflections!
We can focus the sound toward the center of the room; adults seated in the center can hear better, and children working on the sides have a quieter space.
We can lighten the volunteer load by eliminating a setup/teardown process (screen and projector) and a volunteer role (slides).
Paper handouts allow kinesthetic learners to doodle, color, and otherwise engage their hands during the service; this was another often-mentioned request in the annual reflections! And we've also been learning how paper handouts can help us create a more accessible service for many children and people with disabilities.
Physical spaces and paper handouts may seem insignificant, but they affect us, sometimes in surprising ways — we are embodied creatures, after all! Any change to our physical environment brings some joys and disappointments, and it takes time to recognize those, process them, and adapt. So if Sunday left you feeling a bit off-kilter, you're not alone. We're all still adjusting together!
How was the new arrangement for you? Do you have any thoughts, suggestions, or surprises from Sunday? We'd love to hear them. And in true Incarnation fashion, we will continue to "try stuff" as we make our space work for our growing community.
Women in the church
In addition to changes to our physical space, we also marched unflinchingly into one of the more controversial scriptures of the past 2000 years: 1 Timothy 2:8-15. HUGE thanks to Buz for his gracious reading of the passage and to David for a clear, helpful, thought-provoking, deeply encouraging, and all-around excellent sermon (listen here).
Incarnation has always been a church led by women and where women's gifts are welcomed and encouraged. But there is a diversity of opinions and experiences on this topic in our church, and many of you are still working out your views. I'm so grateful for the grace with which you wrestle and question as you seek to live faithfully under the authority of scripture. Please reach out if you'd like to talk more about this, or if David's sermon stirred up further questions. For further reflection on this topic, I provided a few resources in last week's letter.
Vestry election results
One final change from Sunday: we elected our newest vestry members! Please welcome Kim McKnight and Jared Noetzel to vestry, and pray for them as they step into this leadership role. We will commission our new vestry this Sunday at church. Thank you to all of our candidates for their willingness to stand for election; it's a significant commitment, and each of them engaged the process with discernment and prayer.
This Saturday, we will elect our new bishop. I loved Leigh's prayer on Sunday asking God to provide us with a shepherd. Amen. Please pray for the election, and for our candidates, David, Patrick, and Chris (read more here) — they are all gracious leaders and pastors who have engaged this process with courage, wisdom, and vulnerability. I'm grateful.
Small groups are underway, and there's still time and space to join and to invite your neighbors. Groups are sharing a meal and evening prayer. Sign up here.
We pray midday prayer every Tuesday and Thursday at noon. We pray for every prayer request shared on a blue card or in the church WhatsApp, as well as the many other concerns of the world and our daily lives. Join us from the Online Worship page.
Did you know we have several church WhatsApp groups? One for women, one for everyone, and one for our hiking group. These are completely optional and open to anyone who enjoys a good group chat! If you're interested in being added, you'll need to install WhatsApp on your phone, and then share your number with me or Emily (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Sunday's text is 1 Timothy 3:1-13, a well-timed reminder of the qualifications for church leadership. Katie will bring an interactive sermon that facilitates a time of prayer for our new vestry and new bishop. I'm so looking forward to it — see you then!