February Worship and a Follow-up to Community Conversations
Thank you to all who participated in our Community Conversations on Worship January 19-20. Taking your input into consideration and the experience of worship these last couple months, the council, worship and music committee, and the pastors have formulated some adaptations to our worship service.

First, what did we learn. We learned that you have a deep love for worship, even if there is a diversity to the way people are nurtured by it. Particularly regarding our conversation and prayer practices. We learned that some find it energizing. Others find it tiring. Some long for what they grew up with. Others look forward to new experiences. Some think we talk too much. Others don’t think we talk long enough. All agree that our prayers have become more personal and connected to our life together. And, there is joy when children make their prayers heard in the community.

No community can fulfill every desire. Nor should it, if it wishes to worship as the body of Christ. Likewise, the council recognizes that we are not large enough a congregation to offer a full menu of worship options as other congregations in town or even as we might have done in our past. However, we do wish to try to find balance between our desire to be together in worship and our desire for variety of practice; a balance between our desire to look into new ways of being church together and our desire for quiet contemplation on who God is for us.

The following is what you can expect in our worship services moving forward:
• Following the Prelude, we will begin with a greeting and our Focusing Conversation. Of the conversations we’ve tried, this Focusing Conversation has multiple benefits that merit its continuation. It helps to introduce the theme of the day in a light-hearted, even if indirect, manner. It provides an ice breaker for welcoming unfamiliar faces and brings us closer as a community. It also engages your mind in a new way that opens you to hearing God’s Word. Pastors will be diligent in making the questions to prompt our conversations as accessible as possible.
• Following the Sermon and Hymn of the Day we will pray together. We will no longer have conversation about our prayers or the sermon (an opportunity for that will come later). However, the pastors will still take prayer requests from the community. We will ask for prayers informed by what you heard in the sermon, prayers for our life together, and prayers for those you care about. Prayers will conclude with the Passing of the Peace and the service will continue as has been our custom.
• On Sunday mornings, we will be adding a new component to our worship time. In many a good book, the ideas put forth are never quite finished. After the conclusion, there is often more to be said: an afterword. Likewise, worship is never really over and the Word of God cannot be contained to 60 min. At the close of worship, while others help themselves to fellowship in the Narthex, you are invited to join the preaching pastor at the front of the sanctuary for the Afterword. Following the Postlude, we will engage in multi-age small group conversation about what God still has to say thru you. This time will allow for a little deeper engagement with each other and allow the pastor to be more engaged in the dialogue. Coffee will be made available and conversation will close in time for Sunday School at 10:45.

I thank you for your continued faithfulness to your GSC family as we seek to be Church together in changing times. Peace be with you as we walk this road together.

Pastor Carl-Eric