Saturday, February 28, 2009

A refreshing welcome

They say that advertising pays. And churches use banners, signs, billboards, bumper-stickers, post-cards and mass-mailings to attract newcomers. But we are sure that you never saw a banner on a church like this:

This is Zion Lutheran Church on St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans and this picture was taken during Mardi Gras. This is a time when one of the most valuable things you can imagine is access to a restroom. With an influx of around a million people, this was not the only toilet selling operation going on during the festivities and they were not the only church in the clean-bathroom-business.

Grace Episcopal Church on Canal Street sold beer and brownies at the front door, but let people use their bathrooms for free.

Hat tip to the blogs Skitzo Leezra and Marginal Revolution for the stories.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Unbinding the Gospel Project

Have you started your Unbinding the Gospel study in your parish? Remember, your congregation received two copies of Unbinding the Gospel--one for your priest that was given out last year and one for each parish given out at Convention!

You can have an eight week Unbinding the Gospel study with your Vestry, your evangelism team or any group in the parish you want. All they need is a heart to share the Good News of Jesus Christ and a love for their Christian community! Nationwide there are over 12,000 people studying and praying through Unbinding your Heart this Lent. Thousands more are studying Unbinding the Gospel.

To help you in your study and in your work together, the Unbinding the Gospel Project has developed a new on-line community offering support, guidance, ideas and connection to anyone who is using one of the Unbinding series texts in their congregation.

This on-line community will be a place to discuss what you're doing with the Unbinding the Gospel Series in churches from all over the country and from many different traditions. Plan together. Share ideas. Figure out more resources for children and youth. How are you praying in your churches? Work on sign-up ideas for your E-vents (the all-congregational saturation study of Unbinding Your Heart). Now you can work on this stuff together, share the victories and help each other figure out how to get around bumps in the road! Just sign up and become a member of the Unbinding the Gospel Community.

Here is what Martha Grace Reese wrote to us
You can now talk with each other - we have a new, free, discussion and discovery community online. What are you learning? What's happening in your life, in your church? What do you wonder about? Sign up and start talking with each other, the coaches and me. You are coming up with GREAT ideas for using the Unbinding books - (I have listed 5 or 6 of them in my first message to the community - you can check it out when you sign up.) Here's how to sign up:

1. Go to and click on "NEW: Unbinding the Gospel Community." (coaching pastors - the link is also on your pastor's home page)

From the Community page:

2. Create a Community profile for yourselves by clicking the "Register" link at the top right of the page (you don't need to use your real name for your screen name).

3. Accept the user agreement, create a username, password, enter your email address, and create a security question/answer in case you forget your password. For example, "What is your mother's middle name?" and "Penelope" or something like that. Then...

4. ...start "talking!" You'll see lots of topics you can talk about. Here's how: A string of written "discussion" is called a "thread" or "topic". Just go to the area of discussion that looks interesting to you. It's called a "forum." Some of the forums are "Prayer and spiritual leadership," "Planning an E-vent," "Challenges," "What's next?"

5. Click on the name of the forum. You'll be able to read what other people have written. All topics within that forum will be displayed in a list format with the newest topics showing at the top of the list. Want to read the full text or say something back? Click on the title of the thread you wish to read or respond to.

6. Want to say something? If you want to "talk" with someone who has already started a thread (said something!), click on the "POST REPLY" button in the upper right hand of your screen.

7. Want to start a new topic of conversation (a "new thread?") Click on a forum, then click on "new topic" and type away! Easy peasy, lemon squeezie!

The community will be available to everyone, not just coaching churches. Please tell your friends. (Forward this e-mail to them.) We pray that this will be helpful to everyone who is using, or thinking about using the Unbinding books. Let us know how it's going! Ask each other questions. If anyone has developed Week 3 of Heart children and youth resources, post them!!!! :-D Have fun. Let's get started!


Martha Grace
Learn more here.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Kingston: A sign of faith

Joe Jackloski of Grace Church, Kingston wrote to the Bethlehem of PA list the following:

Typically our Ash Wednesday service have not been well attended a Grace Church, Kingston.
This year we tried something a little different. We moved the service time to six o'clock in the evening.

We eschewed our usual newspaper advertising in favor of our ongoing LED billboard.
The results were surprising. Sixty-seven souls showed up, versus forty-one last year.

More importantly, six of these people had NEVER been here before.

Quite gratifying.

I am Episcopalian

Check out these short videos of real people describing in their own words why they are Episcopalian.

Here is what the website says:

The Episcopal Church is a big, colorful, vibrant church. We hope you will see that in the wide spectrum of its members represented here on this site.

In our Church you may touch ancient traditions and experience intelligent inquiry. It is an expansive Church, a loving Church, with strong ties to our roots as a nation. We are a thoughtful, inquiring, freedom-loving and welcoming body, and we thrive not only in the U.S., but also throughout Latin America, Asia and Europe.

We invite you to see and hear the very personal reasons we choose to be Episcopalians. Our controversies and conversations have been public. Our governance is transparent. You are free to see our imperfections, as well as share our joy in that which unites us - our openness, honesty and faith.

We invite you to make your own 60-90 second video explaining why you are an Episcopalian and upload at the link here.

Beating the Boundaries

Mission in the 21st Century
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Cathedral Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem, PA

Register here.

Is the mission of the Church in the 21st Century any different than the mission of Jesus Christ? He reached out to as many as he could, considering His present human boundaries, offering them a message of hope, fulfillment and comfort to those who were harried, hurting, and heartbroken (just like us!). He sent his disciples out to extend his reach, but even they could not meet everyone or fix everything.

The boundaries of any parish include all that is ordinary in God's world. There is great prosperity and extreme poverty; there are people in good health and with devastating illness; there is great promise and dreadful fear. Just because all this may be within our parish boundary does not mean that we are in charge of it, but it does mean that we are responsible for responding to it, as best we are able. We are called to be present to the needs of the people with whom God has surrounded us in the place were God has entrusted us with his ministry.

Attend this workshop to gain new insights into the development of strategies for nurturing generosity, and for introducing Jesus Christ to those within our boundaries, sharing with them the presence and power God has given us.

CLERGY AND LAY LEADERS concerned with nurturing generous disciples, enhancing evangelism efforts and invigorating congregational devlopment.

PARISH EVANGELISM AND STEWARDSHIP TEAMS: Eachparish is encouraged to send a team of five including the Rector, and two members each of the Parish Evangelism and Stewardship ministry teams.

PEOPLE SEEKING a ministry in Evangelism or Stewardship.

PEOPLE EXPLORING new resources and sharpening skills for Evangelism and Stewardship ministry.

DIOCESAN EVANGELISM AND STEWARDSHIP LAY MINISTERS growing in proficiency as trainers and/or consultants.


BE INSPIRED BY PLENARY PRESENTERS: Terry Parsons, program officer for Diocesan Services at the Episcopal Church Center in New York, and Bishop Paul Marshall.

DEVELOP YOUR KNOWLEDGE: Learn how technology can be used to promote Evangelism and Stewardship.

LEARN WAYS TO DISCUSS the tasks needed to do good Evangelism and Stewardship with your membership.

DISCOVER ideas for growing churches your children and grandchildren will embrace.

LEAVE WITH HOPE that you can strengthen your mission of Evangelism and Stewardship.

The event runs from 9:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M. with lunch included.
Cost is $10.00 per person or $30.00 per parish team of five (if you have additional people, there is an additional $5.00 cost per each extra person).

Hosted by:
Cathedral Church of the Nativity
321 Wyandotte Street
Bethlehem, PA 18015

This workshop is brought to you by: Diocesan Evangelism & Stewardship Commissions.

Register here.

Brochure here.