For most churchgoers, Sunday morning starts in a warm home with a warm meal followed by a warm welcome during worship. For others, it’s a time to take shelter from a colder side of life. When there’s no place to call home, Sunday morning still starts with a warm meal and welcome to worship during DiscipleChurch at FUMCFW. Our doors open at 7:15 am with a big community breakfast for friends and neighbors without homes, provided by 30 volunteers who prepare and serve food, clean the tables and dishes afterward, and then reset Wesley Hall for its next Sunday morning event. Three musicians from the eleven:eleven band play for the group each week to provide a backdrop of music to enhance the experience of this welcoming refuge from the hardships many of these guests experience in their day-to-day life.
Once breakfast is over and dishes are put away, many of the volunteers and some of the guests move to Leonard Memorial Chapel for the 8:30 am DiscipleChurch worship service that is highly congregational — and big on connection and community. From its prolonged, earnest, and exuberant sharing of peace between worshippers to its unique opportunity to express joys and concerns in a spiritually and emotionally safe environment for Prayers of Thanksgiving and Prayers for Forgiveness and Mercy, this intimate service set in our beautiful Leonard Memorial Chapel is a true FUMCFW pearl of congregational worship where the members feel a genuine sense of ownership.
As a traditionally structured United Methodist worship service, DiscipleChurch keeps worship simple, uncluttered, and relaxed, yet thematic and genuinely engaging as it follows our familiar four-fold pattern: Gather, Proclaim the Word, Respond to the Word, Send Forth. With a wonderful give-and-take between leader and congregation, music, and spoken word, this quaint service keeps its focus tuned on being in community/communion with God and one another. Several ministers rotate bringing the message, each with his or her own style, with Communion celebrated every week.
After hearing the Word proclaimed, the DiscipleChurch congregation then has a little quiet time to process the message with the piano music of Hans Grim while the natural acoustics, soft lighting, and beautiful stained glass windows envelop the space in calm reflection. Church member Ron White leads the singing of familiar hymns, and then worshippers are sent forth with a great start to their Sunday. People attending often talk about the beauty of that experience and how God speaks through that beauty.
DiscipleChurch is made up of people who understand that “we transform each other in this life,” explains Charme Robarts, Community Advocate and DiscipleChurch Coordinator. “Through serving and worshipping together, we become more aware that we are part of each other.”
Paul and Jeanie Bielicke, two of our regular members of the 8:30 am worship, describe DiscipleChurch as a special time for them that they try not to miss. “Paul and I really enjoy Sharing God’s Peace Among Us during the service,” Jeanie exclaims. “We especially like that people are so eager to greet each other with ‘Peace and Grace.’” Plus, she says that serving Communion makes it even more meaningful for both of them. “The interaction with the homeless in our community makes us more empathetic to their circumstances and able to understand their challenges better,” Jeanie adds.
While people have different desires and expectations when it comes to worship styles and experiences, people seem to find DiscipleChurch uplifting because of its blend of formal and informal. Plus, there is something about the early hour — a time to be in a quiet place for reflection and music, and to think about the meaning of our beliefs and rituals — which all comes together when we share in Communion. “We often say that ‘Everyone is welcome. You don’t have to be a member; you can just receive this gift of love and acceptance,’” Charme adds. “That is a good way to start your week.”
Read this story and more in CONNECT Magazine | 2018 Issue 1
CONNECT Magazine is your source for the stories of our FUMCFW Faith Community — and how each fits in with our Healthy Plate Discipleship. Pick up your copy in the Main Office and Welcome Center or read it online.CONNECT Magazine