Monday, March 30, 2009

wild success (in 2014)

As part of our Lenten Vision and Discernment process, this past Sunday we were invited to take a few minutes and draft the opening paragraph of a newspaper article 5 years from now about CWM's wild success. These are the ones we wrote.


CWM is wildly successful! They may not be the biggest church, but their inclusive way or worshipping is spreading through the Methodist church! They are teaching a way of doing church that is radically relevant in the 21st century and are a training ground for future leaders. People are saying that coming to CWM is like "coming home." They are working to establish themselves as an anti-racism church and have teamed up with Join The Impact and Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition and regularly work together on issues of equality. They have moved to a building with a big kitchen where all can cook and see service and with lots of room for people to join to help wash dishes after fellowship dinner.


Cambridge Welcoming Ministries started from humble beginnings. In 2002 CWM started as a mission of Grace UMC. Later they moved to College Ave. UMC as a mission of the New England Annual Conference. And here they are, 12 years after their birth as one of the forefront most sought after churches in the UMC denomination. CWM moved to their own space in 2010, and received a fulltime pastor appointment. This enabled CWM to offer a morning and an evening service for those seeking a safe worship space. "I couldn't believe how quickly we grew," one CWM congregant reveals. Hard to imagine only 15-25 people at their services, now they have about 100 on average. And Sunday worship isn't all CWM does. They are also active members of RMN, who now that ordination is possible for all people, have moved their focus to --


Cambridge Welcoming Ministries announced this week the groundbreaking on its Community Center. Housed in the city, the new center will not only be home to the dynamic congregation, but will also house a number of community resources for the city including a counseling center, office sharing for small non-profits, community room, day laborers' center, and interfaith worship space. The pastor, Susannah Wesley, said it has always been the vision of the congregation to reach out to and be in solidarity with the community. By building a coalition with the neighborhood groups, CWM was able to not just expand their mission, but also help create a new vision for the community at large. The small worshipping community continues to do great things through creative partnerships in the community.


We invite you to write your own and to share them with the community in the comments on this blogpost.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Reflecting on discipleship

In my sermon on March 8th, I posed the question: What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus? I depicted discipleship as a continual process of learning and growth. While there may be certain fundamentals to be a disciple – love of neighbor for example - how they are manifested depends on community and individual identity, historical context, geographic location, etc. Thus, although I put forth a specific definition of discipleship – to stand in solidarity with the suffering– we at CWM must question this definition and determine if it is appropriate given our community identity, historical context, experiences, etc. Perhaps as a queer community, this definition of discipleship is not helpful for CWM, since most of our congregation is oppressed and does experience suffering. How else might we defined discipleship? In Buddhism, there is an understanding that everyone suffers – this is part of the human experience. So perhaps, in understanding discipleship, it may be more helpful to think of our own experiences of suffering, and how that understanding and experience may help us reach out to others who also suffer. Perhaps this alternative depiction is helpful to you, perhaps not. I invite you to think about and share how you would define what it means to be a disciple of Jesus given the context of your lives and your experiences at CWM.

‘Discipleship is a continual process of wrestling with hard questions, but it is in the processing of asking questions that we discover who we are‘ (quote from my sermon).

Thursday, March 05, 2009

How do we get there?

Yesterday we posted thoughts on where and who it is that we are striving to be, and we continue to invite your input on that.

Today, we add the question of how we get there.

Those who stayed after supper this past Sunday for Community Discernment and Visioning listed the following Questions and Challenges:
  • The close-knittedness of the gathered community can be a challenge to newcomers who wonder, "Will I fit in?" "Will I be accepted?"
  • The number of people in the community studying theology can feel overwhelming.
  • What shape will community take?
  • Other stuff hasn't worked -- how will we be different?
  • Creativity
  • How do we inculcate community of Christ?
  • How do we become more diverse (e.g., not just white GLBTA)?
  • What questions do we need to ask ourselves in order to be more diverse?
  • What does it mean to admit imperfection and places where we struggle?
  • Do we want to grow or stay small? If we grow, will it be the same? Does what we want to be lead us to stay small?
  • What are our choices?
  • What about leadership in the future?
  • Uncertainty
  • The tension between working within institutions and doing what we feel called to do.
  • Money
  • Fear of stagnation/extinction
  • Fear of oppression
  • The institutional church -- Are we United Methodist?
  • "System stuff" -- e.g., navigating money, the pastoral appointment system
We invite you to share with us your own additions to this list as well as your reflections on the items already listed.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Who do we want to be?

Community is a process, a journey.  What is it that we are striving toward?  Who do we want to be?

Those gathered this past Sunday answered:
- Community
- Different, radical, kick-ass!
- Those who inculcate community of Christ
- Kin-dom: new kind of family in which all are equal
- Community of justice, believing that things can and will be better, taking responsibility
- Prophetic and challenging, comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable
- Called into transformed life, calling others into authentic transformed life
- Training ground for new way(s) to be/do church
- Creative

Comments are welcome from all who are in any way invested in the mission and ministry of Cambridge Welcoming Ministries.

Who are we? (I really want to know!)

As part of a Lenten process of discernment about our future, Cambridge Welcoming Ministries is reflecting upon who we are as a community; what kind of community we'd like to be in the future; and the challenges and assets that will help or hinder us in realizing our visions for ourself.

Last Sunday after worship, the gathered community named their understandings of who we are as a church.  These are our answers: 

Cambridge Welcoming Ministries is
 - Welcoming of those marginalized, and those who have experienced brokenness
 - Justice-seeking; a community of hope & healing
 - Koinonia (beloved community)
 - A close-knit group; there's a lot of trust within the group
 - Creative; especially in worship  
 - Mindful, reflective, and aware
 - Queer           
 - Active in the world, a beacon of hope
 - A community strengthened by the post-worship fellowship meal
 - A training ground for new ways to do and be church

Of course, the Cambridge Welcoming family extends far beyond the circle of folks that were present, so I invite you to share your answers.  My dear Cambridge Welcoming community, who are we?