Tag Archive for 'evangelism'

2010 Ministry Minute #5: Pat Karpen

New parishioner Pat Karpen uses the metaphor of a new car to talk about her experience of becoming part of Holy Cross.

New parishioner Pat Karpen uses the metaphor of a new car to talk about her experience of becoming part of Holy Cross.

Pat Karpen came to Holy Cross through our Come and See invitational evangelism campaign last spring. She came, saw, stayed and became an active member of the congregation. Among her gifts, Pat brings a career as a professional actor in New York City and as a teacher at John Stark High School and, now, at St. John’s School in Concord. Her Ministry Minute reflects Pat’s gifts of imagination and expression.

 

————————————

I wasn’t looking for fellowship.  I wasn’t looking for warmth.  I wasn’t looking for inclusion or welcome.  I wasn’t looking for friendship.  I wasn’t looking for a new path or a new destination.    I was looking for a new car.

I had pretty much been driving my car all my life.  It had always given me some problems.  Quite frankly, there were a few occasions when I parked the car and just walked the path.  Lately, though, it was starting to break down for me an awful lot.  I was having some real difficulty reconciling some of the discrepancies I was finding in the manuals.  I really wasn’t crazy about the mechanics.  It especially bothered me when they would all gather together and tell me that most of my problems with my car were probably due to the fact that I was, well, after all, just a woman driver.

I had become so frustrated that annoyance had started to spill over into anger and downright rage.  So much so, that most of the time I wasn’t focused on the path or the destination at all.  All I could do was scream at my vehicle and weep and rage and mourn.  I had stopped marveling at the scenery along the path.  I could hardly even see the path.

Then Heidi asked me to come and see.  I did.  It was not an easy decision for me.  I’d been in that same car for an awful long time.  But I kept coming back.  I like the feel of this  car.  I like how it takes the corners.  I’m reading some manuals.  I’m kicking the tires.  I like the mechanic.  I like his intelligence and his kindness.  But there’s more.

To end as I began:  I wasn’t looking for fellowship.  I wasn’t looking for warmth.  I wasn’t looking for inclusion or welcome.  I wasn’t looking for friendship.  Then I met you all. For whatever reason the particular tap dance that my DNA has always done has always kept me on the periphery of people.  Most days I’m ok with that.  Most days it doesn’t bother me.  Most days.  Then I met you all.

Your welcome has been palpable.  Some of you have invited me into your homes.  Some of you have even invited me back again.  It’s always extremely difficult for me to show up; to come in from out of the rain, but your warmth has been enticing. Since I met you all, I’ve had the strangest feeling that if ever I were to be faced with an emergency…say Weare has lost power in an ice storm and because my sump pump is inoperative my basement is filling with water…that if I called any of you up in the middle of the night that you would leave your homes and come and try to help me.  I don’t have the words to explain how that feeling has affected me.  It is a strange and overwhelming moment in my life as a periphery person.

I am in awe of this small, beautiful holy place that houses your huge hearts and minds. Since I met you I am so…something…eased, happy, inspired…I don’t know…to be here and I must say thank you.

“Come and See” Survey Results

Twenty people answered the “Come and See” evaluation survey. Two-thirds of them reported inviting at least one family or individual to attend one of the three Come and See Sundays in April and May. This probably means that those who “got with” the project are disproportionately represented in the responses, which could skew the results towards the positive side. In any event, of the respondents, 47% were strongly positive overall to the project, 42% positive, and 10% somewhat negative. The negative responses reflected a feeling on the part of a few people that too much pressure was put on everyone to invite someone.

“I was pleasantly surprised at how many people came,” wrote one respondent. “I thought the concept to be a good fit for Holy Cross,” said another. “It was fun meeting new people and greeting old friends.” “I was thrilled to see the extra people at church.” “Valuable approach to encourage me to reach out.” “When we do good we must tell someone. We do and we did!” “The materials and the diocesan support really helped make this a good program. I think we could do more advertising with more lead time and more planning, but overall it seemed to unite people and bring new life into the parish. I wish we could find more young families interested in church.” “I had a lot of anxiety at first,” said one person, probably speaking for others. “But having the cards and the thank-you cards to follow up helped break the ice with those I invited. I could write to them first and then follow up, which was much more comfortable for me.

Those who explained why they didn’t invite anyone had a variety of reasons, including fear of rejection if someone said no (as many did!), people they know having a negative view of organized religion, living at too great a distance from church, and not being available on the designated Sundays.

There were some helpful suggestions for the program if or when we do it again. A number of people thought that more lead time, more training and more thorough planning would be helpful — reflecting the fact that the timetable for the project was indeed very tight. Some people suggested doing such a program annually; one person suggested a quarterly Come and See Sunday; one person suggested more emphasis on the invitation pledge forms.

One of the respondents was a person who had been invited to “Come and See.” “I was touched by the welcoming nature of the congregation and the priest,” she wrote. “I was compelled by the honesty and intelligence of the sermon. I think I’ve become a regular. I am reading and thinking. Asking. Reading a bit more [about the Anglican approach to Christianity]. Praying.” What a nice response!

Easter 3 April 18, 2010

Acts 9:1-6                                                                            

Revelation 5:11-14                                                            

John 21:1-19

If we were one of those churches that put our sermon title out on its sign board, or even had sermon titles, the title for this morning might be A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Happiness. I don’t mean happiness in some shallow, sugar-high way. What we’re about is way too serious for that. We could say “on the Way to Heaven,” but that sounds too focused on the hereafter. By happiness I mean what we seek most deeply and ultimately in life: fulfillment, salvation, purpose, peace, healing, forgiveness. There are lots of words we use for it, but they all point to the same thing, so let’s call it happiness. Deep happiness. It’s what we all want, in our hearts. What lies behind the struggles of our lives.

“Come and see,” Jesus said to people. The people were those who noticed him, heard about his message, about the mighty acts and signs he was performing. The people who saw in him something different, something that indicated that he might lead them on the way to this deep happiness. “Who are you?” they would ask. “What is your secret? Tell us so we can have it too.” And always Jesus would say to these people, “Come and see.” Continue reading ‘Easter 3 April 18, 2010’

Pentecost 7, July 19, 2009

Jeremiah 23:1-6

Mark 6:30-34, 53-56

This past Friday night my wife’s office had a party. Over dessert I found myself talking with our hostess, a fascinating woman who was raised in the Congregational Church and converted to Judaism after her marriage to a Jewish man. She is the first convert to serve as president of her synagogue, a position of great honor.

Our talk turned to our children: were they continuing to practice the faith in which they had been raised? We agreed that this depended to a large extent on who they ended up marrying or living with. “Mixed marriages” – a Christian and a Jew for instance or, most commonly these days, a person with a religious background and a partner without – usually end up doing nothing about religious faith, for themselves or their children.

In twenty-some years, my hostess told me, their synagogue has had only one marriage, because even Reform Jewish rabbis usually will not officiate at mixed marriages – and all the other marriages of children of this synagogue in those twenty years had been to non-Jews. “This can’t continue,” Carol said, “or we will all die out. In this day and age, religions have to learn to reach out and engage with other religions or with people of no religion. They can’t just keep to themselves. They have to open up and change.” (Or at least that’s what I heard her saying!)

Which statement I want to use as a way into this morning’s topic, which is about the formation of Christians in a secular society — something that is called evangelization, a Greek word meaning the sharing of the Good News of God. Evangelization is of the very essence of Christianity. We exist as a religion because a tiny group of women and men, St. Peter, St. Paul and the other apostles (a word meaning “sent out”), went forth to spread the Good News they had encountered in Jesus Christ. Continue reading ‘Pentecost 7, July 19, 2009’