Not Your Typical Church Experience at eleven:eleven celebration

939 1111 celebration_Daniel Katsuk 7.16 5V9A1378It’s Amos Lee, Ruthie Foster, and Michael Franti . . . It’s Pink Floyd meets the Pretenders on Sunday mornings to join with great music, inspiring stories, coffee, and laughter with friendly folks from all walks of life. It’s a creative experience of God’s unconditional love and the practice of gratitude, curiosity, and compassionate living for the transformation of the world. 

More than a decade ago, FUMCFW introduced eleven:eleven celebration as an alternative worship opportunity that was distinctively nontraditional and unorthodox in style. Since then this service, led by Rev. Tom McDermott for the past three years, has grown and continues to draw in visitors of all ages and backgrounds.

Jayna Baker150Jayna Baker and her husband, Brad, live downtown and stumbled onto the service just over a year ago. “It starts at a curious time and it’s a curiously wonderful experience,” Jayna says. They joined the church shortly thereafter and have taken an active role in leadership within the First Church community. Jayna describes the service as “definitely nontraditional with ideas and conversations that push our own assumptions but also support beliefs we hold dearly.”

“I always leave our time there with connective tissue to my own passions and work in education at Texas Christian University,” Jayna continues. “The beautiful entanglements in eleven:eleven’s design and experience seem reflective of the messiness of life as it seems we cannot separate our physical, spiritual, academic, and emotional selves. I am so grateful for the community we have in eleven:eleven.”

DJ Lewis, a new young adult member at the church, finds the celebration especially warm and friendly and often gathers a small crowd for lunch afterward. “We connect as a community at different points in the service in so many wonderful ways,” DJ exclaims. “The music is amazing and Brad Thompson and the eleven:eleven revolution are one of the best bands around. I don’t want to miss a single Sunday!”

Easter Sunday 4.17-0490Laura Franklin admits that for several years she stayed as far away from church as possible. Her previous experiences with other churches had been judgmental and intellectually stunted. “The eleven:eleven celebration at FUMCFW has given me a new desire to be in church,” Laura says. “The music and messages are wonderful, and I leave each time feeling better than when I came.”

As Tom describes it, “Eleven:eleven celebration is boldly inclusive, intellectually curious, and unabashedly open-minded. This service has always appealed to folks who want to connect with Jesus’ life and teachings, and a deeper spirituality, in creative ways their prior church experiences didn’t offer. In eleven:eleven we explore what it means to live in the ‘kin-dom of God’ day to day with a more authentic and wholehearted connection to ourselves, to others, and to God. I am humbled, and grateful, every day to be in this unique church and to worship with this amazing ‘misfit’ community of faithful seekers.”

Darryl Parker150Darryl Parker, an engineer at Lockheed Martin and the host of FUMCFW’s First We Drum, says, “Eleven:eleven inspires me to live fully and compassionately in the midst of life’s uncertainty. To live each moment in wonder and to love unconditionally, accepting others as I accept myself, is to truly know God.” 

Todd Kirk, a college professor and longtime member of FUMCFW and the Aldersgate Sunday School class, says he comes to eleven:eleven because he always feels better when he leaves than when he came. “I feel an esprit de corps with others who believe that God is mystery and God is everywhere . . . that the universe is fundamentally good,” he explains. “I want to feel and experience that goodness and manifest it in my life, and I enjoy celebrating these experiential truths with my family. Tom McDermott is an awesome speaker and frequently surprises me,” Todd adds. “He playfully exposes pretentiousness and rigidity.”

A number of active and retired clergy also attend eleven:eleven celebration. Dr. Tommy Potter, recently retired Vice President of Development and Adjunct Professor at Brite Divinity School (Texas Christian University), first visited eleven:eleven celebration with his wife, Kathleen, and is now often joined by others in his family. Dr. Potter wrote, “Everything about the service had intentionality and quality. Eleven:eleven is a great model! It is an experience for God and community to meet, celebrate, reflect deeply, and prepare to share Good News beyond the doors of the church.”

Check out the eleven:eleven celebration on Sunday mornings at 11:11 am in Wesley Hall. 

Contact: Rev. Tom McDermott | tmcdermott@myfumc.org | 817-339-3881

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