Skin in the Game

Skin in the Game

From the November 29th email:

On Sunday, we kicked off Skin in the Game. Until Christmas, we'll be telling stories about what we care about enough to put on our bodies (tattoos!) and what we care about enough to put our bodies on the line (incarnation!).

This Sunday — holy wow — we've got tattoo artist Ali Martin coming. During the service, she'll be using Inkbox ink to create work that'll last up to a couple of weeks. Even though all this week's spaces are full, sign up to be an alternate. And if there's enough interest, we'll invite Ali back on the 10th! So doooo it. [UPDATE: she's coming back Dec 10.]

Speaking of stuff we're invested in — skin in the game, money where your mouth is, etc etc etc — y'all crushed the first annual old fashioned, ironic church pledge campaign. Our goal was $25,000 in pledges, set up as recurring gifts. In fact, we're at $37,014!!! (No reason to stop there.  Wanna give? You can!)

Read the rest here.

First Annual, Old Fashioned, Ironic Church Pledge Campaign!

First Annual, Old Fashioned, Ironic Church Pledge Campaign!

And...we're off!  We've got the letter, the pledge cards, the giant homemade goal thermometer (thanks, Nate!). Our goal is to raise $25,000 from 40 households pledged and signed up for recurring giving.

Maths to consider: If 40 of our households give, and we want to raise $25,000, that’s an average household gift of $12/week (or 7.2 cents/hour).*  Also, think how much you (or Rebecca, cough, cough) spend on coffee or cocktails in a given week. And what have they ever done for you?

Of course, some of us can give more, some less. But probably you should give more.

* That’s 12 bucks not just when you show up, but year round — set up recurring giving!

Read our pledge letter here, in all its Comic Sans glory.

What you miss(ed)

What you miss(ed)

From the Oct 18 newsletter:

Were you there the time when...

...we forgot to put wine and juice in the chalices?
...a 6-year-old almost upstaged Rebecca preaching about sex?
...Ekeng slayed us with a version of Katy Perry's Firework?
...we packed 120 people in a room meant for 50?
...we had karaoke church?
...the Today Show came and recorded worship? (After we brewed our own beer, that is!)
...no one knew how Unwritten actually goes but we made it through anyway?

Especially now that Chelsea's on board, we talk a lot as a staff about why we do church the way we do church. (Like, why anyone would do church the way we do...) It's not that we plan to forget stuff, or to sing a song we don't really know, and yet — it does keep happening. Some of it seems to be our collective personality, and kind of beyond our control. And some of it is in our DNA.

In an early visioning document about Gilead, we made a list of words about who we hoped we'd be: "open-hearted, hospitable, intimate, life-changing, communal, DIY, homemade, homegrown, authentic, roughhewn, handmade." Not that there aren't things we want to get better at, but we never set out to have a polished "product." We set out to make church with you, the people who show up. We think church isn't something you come and simply receive. Church, is something that happens, that you make. (Not that we're blaming you for the thing with the wine and juice...) You make church by and with your presence, singing, laughter, ideas, giving, your stories. And that much, at least, is exactly what we were going for.

Come be part of it all again this week. Otherwise, you never know what you might miss.

We meet every Sunday at Red Line Tap (7006 N Glenwood) at 5 pm. Kids are always welcome; soft drinks are on us; booze is on you. This Sunday is your first chance to meet our new music director. (Come at 3:45 if you wanna sing We Belong to the Light with the pick-up choir; reply to this email if you want us to send the music.) Sunday's storytellers are Gilead's own Ellen Wessel and Jeff Olson, along with Greta Johnsen (whose name and voice you might recognize from WBEZ or her podcast Nerdette). Which one of them was in a knife fight? You'll have to come to church to find out.

Read more newsy-news from the 18th here.

 

Deep Hunger, Deep Gladness

Deep Hunger, Deep Gladness

From this week's newsletter:

What are you doing?

(Why are you doing it?)


"The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet." Before it was on magnets and in email signatures, it was in Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC by Frederick Buechner.

This Sunday, we're launching Deep Hunger, Deep Gladness, a new series on vocation, on what calls to you, and how better to hear that voice. Part of our project is reclaiming the word vocation and the idea of calling. Some of you have already demurred, "I don't know if I'd say I have a calling..." But there you are, running marathons, having hard conversations with people you love, discerning whether to stay at your job or do something new. There you are, moving away for love, or work, or grad school (we sorta hate that, but only because we miss you). And we're all trying to figure out what we should be doing in light of terrible violence, in light of a country where racism thrives even at the highest levels, in light of a world that values productivity and profit over all. So whether or not you think you have a vocation, this is for you.

Read the rest of the newsletter here.

Risky Business: out of our comfort zones

Risky Business: out of our comfort zones

 

From this week's newsletter:

Uncomfortable.

On Monday afternoon, some Gilead folks joined a group outside of the Moody Bible Institute. We were there to proclaim that the Church loves LGBTQ people, that the Church is LGBTQ people, and to show love especially to LGBTQ students and staff there, after the president and several faculty signed on to the Nashville Statement (a document condemning LGBTQ people and any other Christians who affirm them). We sang, prayed, and talked to students. Or some of us did.

I (Rebecca) am hugely uncomfortable in this kind of setting. I don't like protests and rallies. I don't like arguing. I don't like worrying that I won't know an exact Scripture reference. If I'm honest, I don't think this kind of confrontation leads to change. I was happy enough to be there, being a sign of love to anyone passing by or peering out the windows but God knows: I didn't want to talk to anyone. Not really.

So I was in awe of the people who did engage in conversations. I heard real, seemingly irreconcilable disagreements, and I heard questions. I watched people listening to each other. I saw people hug. I saw lots of people praying. And I was reminded by Josh Lee — who's preaching this coming Sunday at Gilead — that students there may not know that out, queer Christians or affirming churches even exist. "This kind of confrontation" does indeed lead to change: it's Good News that can save lives. 

And that seems worth being uncomfortable.

Read the rest of this week's newsy news here

 

Lost in Translation

Lost in Translation

Some translations are better than others.  (From our June 7th newsletter):

"You can't tell me that bad theology doesn't kill people."

Bri Crumbley, a fellow Gilead-ite who works at Interfaith Youth Core, was sitting across from me (Rebecca) at Rogers Park Social. I thought, "Yeah. The stakes don't get much clearer than that."

All of us are translating all the time, making sense of what's going on around us. Some of us, forced to do more translation than others, are pretty adept at it: "Every time you say 'husband and wife,' I translate it as..." Institutions and communities, including the Church, do translation too, of ancient texts and stories, of traditions and practices, of how to live in faith and what it means: that's theology. Some translations are, to put it mildly, better than others. For the next few weeks, we'll be telling stories of some of the bad, ugly, and dangerous translations we've heard, and  — for the next few weeks and beyond — we'll keep on trying to do the work of good, beautiful, generative translations.

Read more here...

Learning New Languages (June 4 sermon)

Learning New Languages (June 4 sermon)

On Pentecost Sunday, June 4, Matt Richards was our guest preacher.  Matt has an M.Div/MSW from the University of Chicago. He’s Program Director of Care2Prevent at the U of C, where they take a holistice approach to providing comprehensive care and prevention education for young people living with HIV/STI and individuals who are most at-risk for new infections. A Gilead regular, he also shares a back porch with co-pastor Rebecca Anderson where they discuss theology and men.

He agreed to share his sermon and story here. From Matt's sermon:

"...I realize now that Rob—like all of us—needed new languages and stories for making sense of his vulnerability, of reconciling to a past that could not be changed, of finding peace in relationships with people that will never say the words of apology that we so badly need them to utter. I realize now that the stories we tell about our lives have the ability to harm us or to save us.  They can make it easier or almost impossible to ask for the help that we need.  Gilead talks about how stories can save lives.  I wish I had realized that sooner."

Read the rest.

And if you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, or would like emotional support, please reach out to us at info@gileadchicago.org or to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, at 800-273-8255.

 

 

 

 

Know-and-be-known dinners

Know-and-be-known dinners

Who even is Gilead?  Let's get to know each other!

Josh Lee is coordinating an effort to get us sharing meals and conversations over the next few months. No agenda except conversation at a time and in a neighborhood that works for you.  Here's how it'll happen:

  • Go to this Google doc.
  • Some lovely souls have signed up to host. Maybe you will too!
  • Find a date and place that's good for you. Hosts provide a little bit of info to help you decide (is there a cat in the house?, is their place kid-friendly?, etc.)
  • Add your name(s), email, and what you'd like to bring to share.
  • As the date gets closer, your host will let you know any details or last minute info (where to park...)

Want to host? You don't have to have a big place, enough chairs (sit on the FLOOR, people!), or money to cook a fancy main dish. Hosting means creating a time and place for others to gather. You could throw a BYO picnic lunch or anything else that suits your style and budget. You can sign up to host at that same link.

No place like home.

No place like home.

(From our latest newsletter)

There's an idea in the book of Hebrews that the human condition is marked by a yearning for home. As the writer there says, we are all "strangers and foreigners on the earth," desiring a better country.

So while we're at the end of our month of Wanderlust, we're obviously in no way at the end of our journeys, as individuals or as a new church. Still: on Sunday, we'll hear and tell stories of finding and making home, of seeing home with new eyes, of never going home again...(read more here)

 

Know-it-all Mama Bunny God

Know-it-all Mama Bunny God

Well, shucks.

We could've been posting our newsletters here all along! Now we actually will. Here's the most recent. From that link, you can also get to "past issues." This is how this one starts:

Good news/bad news:
God is everywhere.

We're halfway through our month of Wanderlust: detours, roadblocks, and shortcuts on your spiritual journey. This past week, the good news/bad news that wherever you go, God is there, like that relentless mother in The Runaway Bunny. (See also: Sufjan Stevens' song "Seven Swans." Listen to the end. Terrifying.)...

Read the rest here and/or subscribe to get your own.

A Non-religious Clown Goes to Church

A Non-religious Clown Goes to Church

When Maria Vorhis agreed to tell a story at Gilead's third ever worship service, she didn't know The Today Show would be there recording. Firstly, because they weren't planning on it yet, and then later because Rebecca forgot to tell her. Whoops.

But it all worked out.

Maria, a Chicago writer/performer, filmmaker, and teaching artist, wrote about the experience so beautifully over on her blog. You should read all the way to the end. It's worth it and says so much about why we think Gilead needs to exist!

As seen on TV?!?

As seen on TV?!?

Did you end up here because you saw us on The Today Show? You're not wrong: that was us, talking about a church where we tell true stories that save lives, share good food, and make beautiful creative worship together.

Wanna find out more? Subscribe to our newsletter, get in touch to have a coffee or beer with a pastor, or come to church!

At Gilead, we want to be church for and with people who’ve been turned out, turned off, or just left cold by church. We believe God welcomes all — and we have the stories of Jesus hanging out with all the “wrong” folks to prove it — and so we do too. 

Whoever you are, whatever your story is, you are welcome here. 

We are a "congregation-in-formation" of the Chicago Metropolitan Association of the UCC (United Church of Christ). That's church-ese "we're not in this alone. We're got a history, and community, and body of people pulling for us and working alongside us." We're also in relationship with The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), kissing cousins of the UCC in the Protestant church family tree.