Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Grace Church as Leaven

Sometimes we think we are too small to do much. But it's surprising how one thing leads to another and the impact is multiplied beyond our wildest dreams. Such a story is Grace Church's involvement with the homeless shelter, Interfaith Hospitality Network (soon to be called Family Promise, as it is now called nationally).
Grace began hosting homeless families back in the 90's. We hosted the program for about 15 years with Christ Church Glendale helping out with dinner and overnight hosts. But their participation eventually shrank to only one person. Then in 2005, events led to our having to give up the hosting because of lack of enough volunteers in our own congregation. At this time, The Rev. Deacon Laura Chace, who had been a coordinator for the program, convinced Christ Church Glendale to take on the hosting. We, along with several of our former support congregations, agreed to continue overnight volunteering.
It might have been easier and financially possible to have catered dinners, but IHN is about hands on, face to face, service and interaction with guests who have suffered the loss of their home. Hosts are reminded to treat every guest as they would a guest in their own home with comfort food, first names, encouraging words, and a safe environment.
CCG's program, over time, evolved into one of the best hosting congregations in the city. They have made many innovations that have been copied by others and have always been rated highly by departing guests.
Most importantly, however, through sitting down and talking with their guests, they began to realize the many needs that people face that had not been apparent to them in their own everyday lives. With this realization and their extraordinary skills, Christ Church Glendale members began volunteering elsewhere, with agencies that build and repair homes, with food pantries, and very recently with other churches in helping Hispanic immigrants learn English so that they can interact with co-workers, improve their school work and function more efficiently and productively in an English speaking society.
So what Grace Church may have at first perceived as a failure on its part to continue to host has actually turned into many multiples of blessings to those we serve and to those who volunteer.
A final chapter (to date) to this story is that the Grace Church volunteers are now returning to College Hill to participate in a start-up network of six College Hill churches who will host IHN four times a year in our own neighborhood. They will start in January at First United Church of Christ on Belmont, just up the street.

Let's see how the blessings can multiply in College Hill! Contact Mary McLain, Grace Staples or the church office (513-541-2415, office@gracecollegehill.org) for details.

Thanks to Grace Staples for this great perspective!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Celebration of Wholeness and Healing

Grace Church conducts a monthly service that brings together traditional and non-traditional healing methods: healing prayer and laying on of hands for healing, together with  African Drumming and Reiki.  Drumming begins at 6:30 pm, the service begins at 7 pm on the second Wednesday of most months. Check the Grace Calendar.

The service is based on the concept of release of tension through African drumming, restoration of peace through quietness and solitude, and prayer for continued health through the laying on of hands.

In this service, we make space and time to allow God to move in our midst as we celebrate God's overwhelming love for each one of us. The service includes a liturgy of healing prayers and African drumming and culminates with opportunities for Reike and the traditional laying-on-of-hands and anointing with holy oil.

All are invited to worship and enter God's presence as moved by the Holy Spirit.

For background on the role of healing ministry in the life of the church, read About Grace Church's Healing Ministry

What People are Saying About this Service.

David MukasaGrace Church Senior Warden David Mukasa (left) says, "I attended the healing/Reike/drumming service for the first time last week and I was swept off my feet! The involvement and passion of the participants is contagiously good, I even got to play the drum!"

"For those who have not attended the service I recommend that you do. It will be an experience." 

Liturgist Hawley Todd said of the October, 2009, service,  "The healing service last evening was truly blessed by the Lord.  … At the beginning of my homily, I did an invocation of the Holy Spirit.  I am not sure how good the homily was but the seekers and drummers liked it.  What I do know is that the Holy Spirit did come in an extremely powerful way.  It was amazing. Ray Betts, J White, and I prayed with many. It was wonderful to spend more time in prayer with each person than we are able to do on Sunday mornings.  It is a humbling experience to be with others as the Lord ministers to them!"

About the November, 2009, service, Reike Master Kevin Driggers said, "This was an AWESOME night the creator has given us. I can't believe the turnout that we had. It would seem there is a shift in going to church. "This ain't your Parent's" spirituality." Bob Laake and I feel very blessed to have been placed in the right place at the right time. It seems to be a  revival of old time religion. I thank all who attended for allowing us to be part of their blessings as we receive much more than we all give!"

About the Leaders.

This service is led by Hawley Todd, TSSF. Healing drumming is led by Bob Laake. Rieke is coordinated by Kevin Driggers.

hawley todd Hawley Todd, TSSF, (right) is currently the full time Formation Director of Episcopal Healing Ministries. He has worked for 26 years in various healing ministries and was mentored by EHM founder the Rev. Emily Gardiner Neal from 1982 until her death in 1989.  He was trained in the Anglican tradition at Bexley Hall Episcopal Seminary, has taught World Religions at McMaster University and has been an Education for Ministry mentor with the University of the South since 1996.  He has been an Assistant Formation Director for the Third Order of the Society of St. Francis and was the Director of Christian Formation at St. Thomas Episcopal Church from 1990 to  2006.  He is a trained spiritual director and has led retreats and missions in the United States and Canada. He is a licensed Worship Leader in the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio.

Bob Laake DrummingBob Laake (left) has loved drumming since early childhood when he would drum on anything that would make a sound. He's played with many local bands in practically every style of music. However, it wasn't until he was diagnosed with stomach cancer that he discovered the power of the drum as a healing tool. He is now in total remission and is spreading the word of healing drumming everywhere he can. Learn more about  the power of healing drumming on Bob Laake's Drum for Healing page.

Kevin Driggers Kevin Driggers (right) is a Reiki Master/Teacher. He also works with crystals and other minerals as a form of alternative healing. He has been working with alternative healing since 1984.