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.

Look, Ma, I'm telling a story at a church!

Look, Ma, I'm telling a story at a church!

Gilead is a storytelling church that meets at Red Line Tap (7006 N Glenwood) on Sunday nights. We are super progressive, inclusive, and new — just about a yr old. Each week, we have at least two storytellers, telling short (4 - 5 min) stories. 

Our storytellers come from all over, and have all kinds of connections to Gilead. Many are friends, supporters, and congregants, others are Chicago-area performers, writers, comics whom we invite. We never ask (like, we don't care) our tellers if they're Christian or religious and many are neither. We don't ask tellers to say anything religious — unless their story is about religion. 

We do affirm that every person's story is sacred (whether it's about partying with the NY Giants after they won the Super Bowl or coming out) and so we say a very churchy thing after each story, that in some churches gets said only about scripture: "This is the word of God for the people of God." You don't have to think we're right about that; we just didn't want you to be surprised. 

We ask tellers to arrive at 7006 N Glenwood by 4:45 but other than that, it's wide open. Wear what you want, participate as much or as little as you want. No one will think anything one way or the other. You're totally welcome and we're grateful to have your voice in the mix!

We don't have any restrictions on language (except, obviously, anything hateful or disrespectful. We're a lot of LGBTQ+ folks and affirm everyone as they are). We are trying to cut back on f-bombs these days, but any language you've got that's integral to the story is fine with us. 

Tell the Story: Give Gilead a Year Two!

Tell the Story: Give Gilead a Year Two!

Gilead Church Chicago is a progressive Christian community in the Rogers Park neighborhood. We are an inclusive, LGBTQ+ affirming, creative church that is just celebrating our first year! Gilead exists to make beautiful worship, grow and share good food, and tell true stories that save lives. Watch the video for more of the story we're telling.

We hope you'll become part of our story and help us tell it for another year. If you're someone who believes there should be welcoming, meaningful, powerful church experiences for those who have been left out or left cold by traditional churches, give today and help keep Gilead going!

This year, as an incentive, we're offering thank you gifts for donations of specific amounts, while supplies last. Here are the thank yous we're offering:

  • $25 - a Gilead postcard, designed by Gilead's own Mat Schramm! Check out his great graphic design work here.
  • $50 - 1/2 ounce tin of homemade Gilead lip balm. There is a balm...
  • $100 - All new, limited edition, Gilead t-shirt. It reads: "Open and affirming, anti-racist, local, organic, slow-church, just peace, free range, real butter Christians". Design by Mat Schramm. Check him out here. When you email us your address, please let us know your t-shirt size and whether you prefer "female" or "male" cut (t-shirt company's binary, not ours).
  • $200 - A pair of Gilead pint glasses with our classic green logo and three core practices.
  • $250 - The whole shebang: postcard, lip balm, t-shirt, pint glasses, and our undying gratitude! When you email us your address, please let us know your t-shirt size and whether you prefer "female" or "male" cut (t-shirt company's binary, not ours).

How to Make a Church

How to Make a Church

From the first email of the year, looking toward our first birthday:

Gilead is (almost) 1!

This time last year, we'd never held a church service. We had no bank account. We hadn't set foot in Red Line Tap in ages.

But look at us now: we are supported generously by two denominations, the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and by your giving and presence.  You, friends, are making a church. We've had 54 storytellers; scores of pop songs; many gifted musicians leading us; [redacted number] of beers; dinners and parties and coffees and bread and wine and juice (when we remember it. Obvi)....

Read the rest here.

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.