The Mother Church reaches out to their community. Success or missed opportunity?

 

I found this example from JSH  Online of TMC reaching out to the community.  I think this is an excellent example of what our Church should be doing.  They had 200 delegates from approximately 13 high schools in attendance.

But I couldn’t help but wonder after reading the the article if it was really a missed opportunity in disguise.

They were asked, “How should you be working with your peers to discover the beauty and strength to be found in diversity, and to help bring lasting peace to your communities and the world?”

Although those with whom we talked didn’t spontaneously offer spiritual solutions to the questions posed by the conference … By the end of the conference, students’ smiles and repeated calls of “Thanks for letting us use this wonderful space!” confirmed that they had gotten the message.

Really?  Perhaps we can take a lesson from Erin Gruwell who thought outside the box and reached over 150 youth and got them to share their stories and rewrite their endings.  They all went on to graduate and attend college.

The video is a re-share but very powerful.  I used it with my class and some were moved profoundly.  My class came up with specific, spiritual answers such as the  “Respect of others is peace” based on the the Golden Rule.  We also talked about forgiveness.

Erin Gruwell saw hope, opportunity and promise in those students that the other teachers had written off.  She taught them the history of the Holocaust so the past isn’t repeated after intercepting a note depicting an African-American classmate with big lips .  She told the class that was the same type of caricature that the Nazis had used during the Holocaust.

In my class I passed out question cards on different topics.  One was on the topic of Hate which asked:  What is the worst kind of hate?  One student stated: The hate you have towards others because the venom only destroys yourself.

Another stated: The hate you have for yourself because how can you truly love when you hate yourself for being different.

I was also asked the following by a student:  What would you do if you found out your brother is gay?  I responded: “love him unconditionally.”  The class supported me.  This student pulled me aside on the last day and thanked me for my unique approach to teaching.  I handed him his diploma during a ceremony which ironically was on the day after the Orlando shootings in the United States.

Perhaps our Church can do better with getting the right message out to the world or at least by starting with their own community.  It also reminded me of the article on the Orlando shooting written for teens and appears on JSH Online.   I shared my thoughts of disappointment which were only echoed by other CS practitioners.   I am sure the person who wrote it is a good student of CS so this is not personal.  There just seemed to be a disconnect between the article and the community.

Finally, one attendee of 2014 Midwest Church Alive shared why her branch church just closed:  “Because we focused on us and not on our community”.

I love Christian Science and it has saved my life. But is there a disconnect with the message and the messenger with the community itself?  Is this disconnect affecting church attendance?

“Count me in!”

From the June 17, 1996 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

The ninth annual “Count me in!” conference, sponsored by The National Conference of Christians and Jews, was held recently in the Sunday School building of The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston. There were two hundred delegates from thirteen high schools in the Greater Boston area. They had already shown their potential as young leaders, and this five-hour conference was designed to develop their skills further through small group discussions and workshops.

The keynote presentation, “Through the Eyes of a Friend,” combined live narration on stage with illustrative film footage to convey some of the lessons to be learned from the experiences of the German-Jewish girl Anne Frank during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands.

In the group sessions the young people were encouraged to find solutions to some of the issues raised by the Anne Frank story—to explore ways to overcome the prejudices and labels that misunderstanding has imposed on people everywhere. They were asked, “How should you be working with your peers to discover the beauty and strength to be found in diversity, and to help bring lasting peace to your communities and the world?”

Although those with whom we talked didn’t spontaneously offer spiritual solutions to the questions posed by the conference, we couldn’t help noticing the frequent glances they took at the posters and banners on the walls of the rooms in which they deliberated. Words from a Sunday School banner “Bloom Where You Are Planted” were echoed in many discussions. The banner depicts a garden of flowers whose leaves and petals are labeled courage, honesty, gentleness, compassion, patience, humility, loyalty, perseverance, joy, faith.

By the end of the conference, students’ smiles and repeated calls of “Thanks for letting us use this wonderful space!” confirmed that they had gotten the message.

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