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11/6/2022 Sermon

View today's sermon on our YouTube channel:

Yesterday during our Worship Service we had an update from our Small Church Leadership Team about the work they have been doing on the Fostering Imagination Task Force through The BTS Center in Portland. The outline of the conversation is posted below. Join the conversation! peace, Pastor TJ

Background of the program – A small group of us from this church began meeting with 5 other churches in the New England area on June 14th. Our last scheduled meeting is on Nov. 29th. We have met for the most part, for 1-1/2 hours every other week, for six months, on Zoom. How and why did this come to pass? As I recall, last year at our annual meeting, as part of our budget discussion, Peggy Karns raised the question, How as a church community, can we address the issues of acting like a mid-size church, but in reality, being a small church? As the Church Council was taking this question into consideration, we became aware of this program at The BTS Center which was essentially asking some of the same questions that we were asking. We completed the application to participate, and were accepted into the Fostering Imagination: Building the Resilient Church, Small Church Leadership Community.

Imagination Sundial concept – As members of this program we have been invited to think, to imagine and re-imagine, widening our place in our communities. One of our resources for this task comes from Rob Shorter and it is called an Imagination Sundial. By paying particular attention to Space, Place, Practices, and Pacts we are more likely to create welcoming and relevant services and environments. So often, as a church we invite people into our building, into our sanctuary. The Imagination Sundial encourages us to be more cognizant of meeting people where they are. Outside in nature. On Zoom. On the Village Green.

One way that we experimented with this was by moving outside of our building for events. At our Blessing of the Animals service in September we welcomed people and their animal companions to join us on the Village Green near the Town Office. We had about a half dozen attendees that we may not have served had the service been in our sanctuary. At our Church Fair this past August we very purposefully had more child/youth friendly activities outside on the lawn and in the parking lot. As you may recall, Lucy Ashmore set up a lemonade stand near the yard sale. Amelia Ashmore was one of our face painters. And near the face painting station was a large mural with the question, “Who is our neighbor?” We were engaging with folks from outside of the church, actually outside of the church! To emphasize, I believe that many of the people we engaged with that day felt comfortable and welcome at our event because it was outside of the church and not inside of the church.

What If questions – At different intervals of this project we have collaborated with church members and community members, as evidenced on our walls here in the sanctuary. We have been asking the same question for most of the past six months… “What if…?” Our minds have been stretched by listening to a podcast hosted by Rob Hopkins titled, “From What If to What Next” as well as hearing excerpts from his book, “From What Is to What If: Unleashing the Power of Imagination to Create the Future We Want.” We aren’t done yet, but we are getting to the point where we would like to focus on one question, one project, to work on together.

Our question & next steps – The question(s) synthesizing for us is WHAT IF we asked the community… What if the Union Congregational Church of Hancock opened their building to the community seven days a week? What can you imagine happening there?

Our upcoming assignment for those of us participating in The BTS Center’s Small Church Leadership Community is to imagine what our church will be in the year 2030. Our shared vision of what could be – • We have partnerships with many community organizations that fill our hearts, fill inside the walls of our building, and fill the needs of those on the margins in our community. • We continue to offer our worship services, meetings, and study groups both in-person and on-line so that all may attend in whichever venue is best for them. • We built and maintain a Labyrinth in the back yard of Golden Acres that is open to the community. In addition, we periodically host guided meditations in the afternoon and by moonlight. • There is a Community Garden in the back yard of Golden Acres that we help plant, tend, and harvest. Fresh vegetables are plentiful and are shared with the Golden Acres residents and others in the wider community. • We host meditation groups in our sanctuary several days a week. • We offer Outdoor Vesper Services at Tidal Falls. • Our classroom and Fellowship Hall are utilized for art groups, yoga, childcare, play groups and myriad other activities.

Open for congregational discussion • The Church is often invisible in the community. Church/members be a “cog” in the community. Raise visibility. • Re Children’s Message, wondering… What if we had recess at church? Most enjoyable time at Pilgrim Lodge camp this summer was time spent swinging. How about putting swings on the church grounds? • Use church building/grounds to teach music, art, etc. Learn about one another’s gifts by teaching what we love to one another.

Ideas, questions, participation are all welcome, from everyone and anyone, always.

Rev. TJ Mack – Nov. 16, 2022 or 207.323.6743

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