my first Sunday

I have ‘done’ my first Sunday in Seattle.
It’s Monday and I am writing this in a gap I have found as some students that are with us are taken on a tour of Fremont.

On Sunday morning we went over to Urban Life Church which is a new church set up in the Colombia City neighbourhood of Seattle. This church meets monthly in the Colombia City Theatre led by Buzz Matthews. As Buzz preached it was clear to see his passion for the area, but also to be able to see his frustration and confusion. Not many people were there, which is always downheartening, and he shared how it is tough being called to an area and yet not a lot seemingly happening. I chatted with Buzz afterwards and was struck by his faith of determination. This guy has a good ministry … he is in a tough area and yet is getting ‘out there’ with his wife and trying to connect with the people of the area.

The evening saw my first experience of a COTA Eucharist. This is a weekly event at 5.00pm every Sunday. The liturgy really helped me in my worship and the music and songs we sang had powerful lyrics. There were a lot of people, some took communion and some did not, but all were included and able to partake in the worship. After Jordan’s sermon there was time for people to respond via a number of stations around the abbey – again some chose to sit where they were and reflect on the suffering in Haiti while others sat in front of icons or lit candles. I grabbed some of the atmosphere in photos (which will be in the in the flickr album), but I did not want to take too many and risk distracting worshipers from a powerful encounter with God. I enjoyed this first authentic worship with the COTA community.

It has raised questions for me … such as not only how did this all start, but what skills are needed to maintain and keep this going? How does Karen release and enable others that are around her which orchestrate the things that happen? I also wonder how this is all planned with people that are already very busy in their lives as we all are in western society? It’s good to have questions and I know I am here long enough to be able to explore some of them. It seems though, that as questions are answered more raise in my mind. I wonder if I can organise a few interview type times with people to look at some of these questions?

After the service we did pub theology where I spoke about Fresh Expressions and what I am doing in Rochester. The audience had some good questions, as well as some honest concerns, and it was really good to be aprt of this gathering. People said kind things afterwards and I hope that the simplness of my presentation showed that we can all be involved in new ways of being church – and that we are all learning and journeying together. Before I spoke someone said ‘you are the expert’ …. but that isn’t true. In Fresh Expressions, or Emerging Church or whatever language we choose, none of us are experts as none of us have been around. My response was ‘I can talk well about where I have been … but I don’t have a clue where I am going!’

I enjoyed my first Sunday and look forward to interacting with some Lutheran Seminary students which are with us for the rest of this week to learn about emerging church and COTA. I’m going to sit in on some of the sessions and earn as well!

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