New Digs - TBA

New Digs - TBA

As you may have heard, the Heartland Cafe is selling the building where we meet.*

Good news: Gilead has never been a building (literally because we don’t have one). Gilead is the people, and energy that fill the space, but it's true that this place has felt like Gilead to us for the past year or so. Twinkling lights, rainbow stars, glitter high tops, and leaky toilets, we made the space as ours as it could be.

Harder news: we'll be leaving Red Line Tap at the end of the month. Although we’re definitely sad, we’re so glad that we get to continue to be church together wherever we end up. We’ll let you know where we’re headed next as soon as we know. But for now, keep showing up on Sunday nights. Llt’s make our last few weeks here something special.

Come be church in December at Red Line Tap (7006 N Glenwood). As usual, kids are always welcome as is anyone you want to bring with you. Soft drinks are on us, booze is on you.

*Is it our fault? When we made this calendar entry, we completely arbitrarily set Dec 30, 2018 as the end date. We’re planning to put another date on the calendar for Heartland’s grand re-opening, and hope that works too.

Friends, with Benefits

Friends, with Benefits

Hey you,

Yeah, you. I love you, you know that? I really do. You’re like, my best friend. And well…we’re always together, and we’re not seeing anyone else. So, I guess what I’m asking is: do you wanna be friends with benefits?

Just to be clear, this is a pledge letter, and I’m hoping you’ll give in an ongoing way to support the community we share and love. But what I really wanna know is: are you DTF?

That’s “Down to Fund” the work of making beautiful, inclusive, creative church at Gilead Chicago. Yeah, maybe that is kind of a dad joke. I see that now. Imagine what we could pass on to our children, tho.

Whoa, OK. Maybe that’s moving too fast. We don’t need to mess with labels right now. Why don’t you just fill out a pledge card, set up recurring giving, and let’s see where this thing goes?

I’m not asking for forever. But we’ve got something good here. Something we’re both enjoying. I get a lot out of being with you. And I think you feel the same way. So why not make it just a little official? You don’t have to call me your significant other, we can just fund this 2019 budget and watch Netflix like we always do.

It’s not awkward unless we make it awkward.

Did I make it awkward? My bad. While we’re in that uncomfortable space, let me just say, our goal for 2019 pledges is $35,000. That’s a lot of money, but together, we can do it. That’s all I’m trying to say: let’s do it. Together.

And if neither of us is married by the time we’re 40, we can meet at the top of the John Hancock building and you can sent up some kind of memorial endowment. Baby.



Serious Shit, Funny People

Serious Shit, Funny People

Laughing matters.

There's nothing funny about so much of what's happening. That's probably true more of the time than we know, or attend to, but it's palpable these days.

So...a comedy series? At church? Kicking off on...All Saints Day?

If you're not a stand-up comedy fan, it may seem like bad timing. But this is what comedy's made for — it pokes holes in the bullshit of the powerful and lets all the air out. It looks around with eyes wide open and tells it like it is. It speaks truth in a way that makes you say "I never thought of it that way!" at the same time as "That's so true!" It's revelatory. 

It's also, y'know, not to belabor it, funny. And we could use some laughter. Not the brutal, mocking laughter coming from lots of corners these days, but laughter that feels like relief, that's a reminder of what it feels like to feel good. #GoodNewsThatFeelsLikeGoodNews

We've got some excellent comics coming over the next few weeks to take on some of the hardest shit: death, mental health & illness, family, and race. And on November 18th, funny-pants and political bad-asses Myq KaplanAlex Kumin, and Shannon Noll are coming to Gilead for a fundraiser after church. Get ready for whatever's waiting for you at the Thanksgiving table with a fat dose of comedy. (You can get tickets here.)

And: if you're looking for a place to grieve and stand in solidarity with others (in response to the synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh), head downtown on Thursday at noon. We got word of this interfaith vigil from our friends at Mishkan.

This Sunday, we're kicking off Serious Shit, Funny People and, yes, it is All Saints Day. Masood Haque will be with us and you should (if you want) bring photos of people you love who have died, and we'll fill the room with images of those we often carry with us, unseen.

Gilead goes to the Moth

Gilead goes to the Moth

In June of 2018, pastor Rebecca Anderson went to The Moth Grand Slam with a story about that time we had karaoke church. You can watch that story here.

Tips on Preparing a Story

Tips on Preparing a Story

Here are the tips we share with everybody who tells a story at Gilead. With thanks to the many organizations and people we've learned from, like 2nd Story, The Moth, and folks including Scott Whitehair, Maria Vorhis, and so many others. 

These are just a few basic rules of thumb (and there are always good reasons to break rules, so feel free). Especially if this is your first story, think about how these might help give shape and stakes to your story, take what's helpful, and ignore the rest.

Tips/things to consider as you prepare:

  • We're aiming eventually for 3 to 5 minute written (or crafted) stories. For most folks, that's in the neighborhood of 600 or fewer words.

  • Scene-driven: think in terms of distinct locations and what happens in each place. Something happens. Scenes distinguish a story from an essay. [More and more, I think this is THE KEY to good story-telling. Let your audience do the meaning-making. Guide them to it, with your edits and presentation, but don't unpack it for them too much.]

  • Stories that are written/crafted to be delivered, not just read.

  • Start IN the action and set up the stakes:

    • If your story involves you climbing Mt. Everest, start with "The winds tore along the ridge; I checked my oxygen tank again" and later, bounce back to exposition.

  • Use dialogue as much as possible, especially to tell the audience things that would otherwise be exposition.

  • You can count on your voice and delivery to do the adjectival heavy-lifting. No need to say, "he stammered..." if you can deliver it, "H-he-hello!"

  • It's about you: a true story as you experienced it. And you can leave out anything you don't want to share or that doesn’t serve your story. No one is going to fact-check you.

  • Think about what your story is about (themes), beyond what happens (plot, facts). This helps keep you stream lined and edit out the stuff that may be good, but isn't necessary.

A Few of Our Favorite Things

A Few of Our Favorite Things

We're geeking out! Calling all former (and current) band geeks, theatre kids, Harry Potter fans, LARPers, and all you other kinda geeks: the ones who get SUPER excited about birds (ehem), or Little House on the Prairie (ehem), or Hebrew Bible (ehem! You know who you are). Whatever super specific thing floats your boat, and/or gets you to put on a costume, and/or leads you to accidentally give a little bit of a lecture at a party when someone casually asks you a question...that’s what we’re talking about this month.

 Why? Because it’s fun.
Why else? Because in a world that suggests we say “YES! to everything, geeking out requires a certain amount of saying NO. No to those other options, because the thing you really want to focus on is right here. No to going shallow and broad, and yes to going narrow and deep. (Also, maybe, maybe, there are some analogies to be drawn between all this and, say, feeling drawn to one faith tradition in a world of interesting, beautiful, meaningful traditions.)
We’re hearing and telling stories about the vulnerability of loving something deeply, and the possibility of being uncool. Stories about finding our people and being given permission to go way, way overboard. (Shark Week-themed snacks, anyone? Oh, yes.) Stories about the ways enthusiasm is contagious, and how we got “converted” to the stuff we now can’t imagine living without. (How did you get into dulcimer?)

Read the rest of this newsletter here

Parking in Rogers Park - UPDATE

Parking in Rogers Park - UPDATE

As of July, 2018, parking at the Field School is not available.


Parking in Rogers Park ain't easy, especially in the summer. If you're mobile on foot or bike or train, do that! For those who want or need to drive, there is relief:

Eugene Field School (at Ashland and Greenleaf) once again has evening and weekend parking. Double check signage, but for now: it's ON.

Pull into the parking lot from Greenleaf and pull all the way forward. From there, head east (left!) on Lunt until you hit Glenwood, just about a block away. We're at 7006 N. Glenwood, aka Red Line Tap, aka Buffalo Bar at Heartland.

Queering Church

Queering Church

God's Coming Out Story

There are lots of places in the Christian tradition (and others) where the revelation of God — God's introduction to humanity — goes something like this: once, a long time ago, God showed us who He was, once and for all. The end. Everything else that happened or happens, took place after that and God was the same static being (with male pronouns) for all time.

There are lots of other parts of the tradition (including, y'all, in the bible itself) where God, in an on-going way, reveals more and more of Godself. Conversations where God adds, "Oh! I'm also like this," and "Did I mention I'm not that into sacrifices but more into justice?" Places where God is a little extra and announces, "My spirit is everywhere! I cannot be contained with words! You cannot put me in a box! You wanna know my name? I am who I am!" A moment when God pours Godself into a human body and walks around doing what God does, showing people up close who God really is. Times and places where God pours God's spirit into human beings and says, "Now you run with it; you tell other people what I'm like."

As we kick off Pride month and our Queering Church series, we're gonna talk about the ways God continues to come out, continues to invite people to know who God really is — and how we are part of telling God's coming out story. (It's kinda also Gilead 101: incarnation, on-going revelation, us telling stories of the body of Christ when we tell our own stories. You know, the basics.)

So c'mon: bring somebody skeptical with you, why don't you. Bring somebody who wants to sing this amazing playlist. Sunday at 5 pm (at Red Line Tap, 7006 N Glenwood). As usual, kids are welcome, and so is anyone else you want to bring. Soft drinks are on us; booze is on you.

Read the rest of the week's news here

Gilead: Stupendous and Super Huggy

Gilead: Stupendous and Super Huggy

At the tail end of Party People, as part of the Surprise Party, Chad the Bird showed up to tell a story. Chad is Chicago's avian op-ed columnist, and the creation of Josh Zagoren. THEN, Chad put out a podcast episode featuring both his story and a little bit about Gilead. It's a pretty great snapshot of who we are, and a good thing to share with people who are like, "Wait. What's this bar-church thing you're part of?"

A snippet:

"'...real butter Christians. It's delicious. They sound delicious. And they were. Lovely room. Um, first of all, they meet at a bar, which I was, like, 'K.' ...So I walk in there and they're like, 'Hey, what do you wanna drink?' And I was, like, 'I dunno. What're you drinking?' And they were like, 'We've got PBR and shots of Malort for $5.' I was like, 'C'monnnn.'  So yeah, they just get drunk on happiness — and also beer." 

Listen to all of Chad's story and his take on bar-church here. (Worth listening. He calls us "stupendous, and super huggy.") 

Guest Taps

Guest Taps

There's a lot of good shit on tap at Gilead: our regular drafts of humor, wisdom (?), stories, and ideas are pretty damn tasty. But Gilead's not the only show in town. For that matter, Christianity's not the only show in town!

In May, we're heading toward Pentecost — that's the day the Holy Spirit showed up and made it clear that sharing good news with more and more people was gonna take all kinds of new translations, all kinds of new voices. So for the next three weeks we're celebrating new voices, new stories with Guest Taps, hearing from faith leaders we're excited about and want you to hear from.

Kicking it off is Jamie Frazier (aka Pastor J) of The Lighthouse Church of Chicago...

Read the rest of the newsletter here.

Party People!

Party People!

Our post-Easter theme is all about the Christian tradition of partying. You know that tradition, right? It's the opposite of fasting! It's the tradition that said, "God prepares a feast for all people!" (Isaiah 25:6 - 10). The tradition that tells stories about Jesus feeding people not just enoughbut sending them home with leftovers (Matthew 14 and, like, all over). And one of the big criticisms that Jesus got was that he partied too hard, too often, eating and drinking too much with all the wrong people. Count us in,please.

Our friend Katie Hays at beautiful Galileo Church in Texas does a bang-up job of explaining the theology of parties over here, if you even need further justification to party.

Here's YOUR invitation to party, from this week's newsletter (and poet Jack Gilbert):

We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure,
but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world. To make injustice the only
measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.

from A Brief for the Defense 

Dance Dance Party Party

When we got together to talk about this new Easter season theme, Gilead-ites told stories about theme parties and costume parties, parties where they got to fulfill a dream of being elected prom queen, parties with neighbors and strangers, accordions and cotton candy machines. Many people there also shared that they "actually hate parties."

Well...maybe you've been going to the wrong kind of party? 

Read the rest of the newsletter here

Get your shit together: It's Lent, baby

Get your shit together: It's Lent, baby

Better late than never, here (for posterity's sake) is what Lent looked like this year, from our newsletter:

What time is it? Our calendars contain our whole lives. And not just in an "oh my God, if the app crashed, I'd be lost" kinda way. (Although that, too.) There are dates on the calendar that we share, for good or ill: Valentine's Day, Black Friday, Thanksgiving Day. And there are dates that are private, our own Feast or Fast days: the last time they kissed me, the night he died, the day of the accident. When I got the dog, when we closed on our place, when the funding for the new church came through (!)...

Read the rest here.