January 14, 2014
Dear New Spirit Congregation and Friends,
As you may know, New Spirit Community Church has been struggling both financially and programmatically. The results of the Fall Stewardship Campaign were low enough that we are now at a place where we simply cannot pay our staff or meet our day-to-day expenses. As attendance declined over the past months, so has our ability to gather a “critical mass” of people who wish to invest their time, talent and treasure for the ministry of New Spirit Community Church.We believe that the most appropriate thing to do at this point is find a loving way to bring our ministry in its current form to a close with grace and integrity, to do our best to help some of our members find a suitable community of faith, and to continue to hold each other in deep prayer as we each follow our own faith journey.We know that many still believe fervently in the ministry that New Spirit chose to follow. New Spirit Community Church has been a church that is gay and straight together, questioning and fully open to a wide range of self-expression. Our church has provided a worship setting for seekers who yearned for a closer connection to the Divine, and has gathered people from a wide variety of faith journeys. We have been bridge-builders between different denominations, as well as between different racial & economic communities.
As a church, we have accomplished much in our 13+ years and touched the lives of many who have hungered for a welcoming church and an Open Table. We have touched the lives of many beyond our sanctuary. We have trained for ministry many seminarians who now serve and hold space for Spirit across this nation and throughout the world.
Our congregation has touched those who bathe in the Ganges River as well as children who found love and shelter at the Mother of Peace orphanage.
There is much gratitude for the clergy, interns, musicians, volunteer clergy, leadership, founders and all who have served & contributed to our congregation over the years.
This is a sincere invitation to those who have not worshipped at New Spirit lately. Please come during the remaining Sundays in January. We will join together to create a loving space and listen for how the Spirit’s wisdom speaks from within each of us. In the remaining Sundays of this month, Rev. Tami will lead us through Holy Conversations about the life, ministry and gifts of the New Spirit Community.
In last Sunday’s service we were given the opportunity to gather in small groups and look within our selves to answer questions such as, “What makes a church?” or “What is necessary for spiritual community?” Fitting with our diverse community, a host of answers came forth. Prayer, Communion, an Open Table, music and inclusivity were all noted. Chief amongst these was the idea that we are a community with one another, while at the same time also in relation with the Divine. Those gathered were also asked to look at “What is not necessary for a spiritual community?” Many felt that labels, buildings and rigid dogma were superfluous aspects to a faith community.
We would especially like to invite you to attend what is likely the last Annual Congregational Meeting on Sunday, January 26, 2014. Your Board of Directors has been meeting and will offer recommendations at our Annual Meeting.
During this time of transition our denominational partners are offering wisdom, presence and prayerful support. Rev. Mary Jacobs, Interim Regional Minister of the Christian Church in Northern California-Nevada (DOC) joined us for our board meeting last week. And Sunday, Rev. Drew Nettinga, UCC Associate Conference Minister joined us in prayerful presence. Rev. Tami and Rev. Shayne will be in conversation with Rev. Elder Darlene Garner of the Metropolitan Community Churches to glean from her wisdom and prayerful support. Other representatives of our denominational partnerships will be joining us for our Annual Meeting and offering their support as we walk together through this process.
It is our hope that our congregation will hold one another in prayer. Our experience of the Divine is a seed planted deeply in all us. As we each go out from New Spirit Community Church, we will take these seeds of the Divine with us and plant a garden of a loving Spirit in the world.
New Spirit Board of Directors
MA Sempari, Jim Scurlock, Connie Barker, Karl Mettinger, Richard Brabham, Andy Schoenwetter