Once again, in deciding a format for this report, it became necessary to deal with the nature of the committee itself. The truth is that all the current participants see church through similar lenses, and much of the input comes from right here in Schenectady, NY. It seems appropriate, again, to use a flow that starts with the specific local experiences and realities, and then to apply those to the church at large.

 FROM THE PARTICULAR …

This church in which we participate has a liturgy, a “work of the people” – an ordering of the small, significant elements that sing to the rhythms of life – of hope – of faith. There is a gathering and welcoming in recognition that we are more than isolated individuals; that we are a community. The confession is practical – a corporate acknowledgment that as a society we fall short. The sharing of joys and concerns, and the holding of each other in prayer are essential. People offer of themselves for the greater good and take according to need. There is the breaking of bread, the sharing of the cup of hope, the benediction that we are able to go out and make a difference, and the blessing to strengthen each other for the journey that is life.

          From Ministry Development Work Area Report March 2010

The liturgy of our church has continued to be sung.

We have continued our work with In Our Own Voices (IOOV) – an organization for LGBTQ people of color. The second NY State Department of Health and IOOV Health Summit was the site for a presentation we did in the name of CWAC on spirituality and health. IOOV’s Black and Latino Gay Pride was another opportunity to be present and serve our sisters and brothers as ordained clergy.

CWAC, with its $500 sponsorship, was the only church represented at the Rainbow Access Initiative Annual Awards Dinner for medical and human service professionals serving LGBT. Recognizing that spirituality and health are interdependent, we have been asked to write spirituality modules for RAI’s professional and consumer health training courses.

CWAC participated in the annual Walk for Rita – a walk for suicide prevention – and we were asked to table at the Annual Diversity Day at the State Museum. Other activities in which we’ve been present, besides the daily and weekly engagements, are a Albany High School PTA presentation for the Trevor Project and, of course, marching in the Gay Pride Parade.

More interesting opportunities lay on the horizon. We will be in Austin Texas in November with a presentation for the Harm Reduction Coalition’s biannual conference. We have been asked to help design a local observation for the Trans Day of Remembrance. We are also working with several other people to organize a youth group for LGBT young people in Schenectady.

Through all these events and the routine activities runs a common thread for us – we have been ministering with those who cringe at the mere mention of the word “Christian”. Some have been hurt by the church, some abandoned, others betrayed, and yet others who fail to see the relevance of church. Being church in this environment brings both challenges and rewards.  

 … TO THE GENERAL

 Church in today’s society exists beyond a limited sacred space at a sacred time each week, and may take on some characteristics that are unorthodox in contemporary Christendom. Because we are living in what we believe to be a microcosm of larger society, we have used our particular situation to teach us some things about church in the 21st century. Some of what we have explored is counter-intuitive and some very predictable.

          From Ministry Development Work Area Report March 2010

 We’ve been discussing different models of church – those that are entrenched in our culture and those that are emerging. Most are centered on a physical place – a brick and mortar church building or store front in the traditional way. While our model, most closely resembling a street ministry or community chaplaincy, does not include a physical location, we do not believe the traditional model is dead. It is unnecessary to abandon the traditional models of church in areas where they still work. For CWAC, however, it may only be practical to use traditional models in concert with other, traditional, denominations.

Some of the church models we’ve engaged with:

Urgent Care – usually featuring assistance such as food pantries, clothing rooms, housing programs, etc.

Farmer’s Market – engaging in programs and mission opportunities that are inter-related and center on a common mission commitment.

Life-saving station – where programs are develop and people are prepared to go out to serve their community.

There are many more, of course, and most churches do not fit neatly into one model. New church starts, however, do need to pick a starting point – choose a model or models that suit their particular mission. Some of the questions that need answered are who they will meet with, where will they meet, how to create sacred space and what source of liturgy will be used.