Category Archives: Phoenix

February 11, 2013

February Community & Contemplation

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Gather with folks for a time of singing and reflection on Sunday February 24th at the historic Icehouse, in downtown Phoenix, at 6 p.m. for our second Community & Contemplation service. Our musicians will lead us in singing “secular” songs with spiritual themes. In-between songs will be extended periods of silence. Participants may choose to pray, meditate or make use of provided art supplies throughout the service. The service is open to the public and free professional child care is provided.

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December 18, 2012

An Evening of Community and Contemplation

Join us on Sunday January 27 at 6 p.m. at Central United Methodist Church for an intimate and meditative worship gathering. The service will include contemplative music, times of silence, readings and responses. Come and experience a time to connect spiritually and with others in community. Free professional childcare will be provided.

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December 11, 2012

Do You Not Know? Have You Not Heard?

When we first proposed coming to Downtown Phoenix everyone wanted to know what we were going to do down here. All we could tell them was, “something new.”

Our first few weeks on the ground, as we met the folk who would be our friends and neighbors, partners and collaborators, in this new life and venture, they wanted to know what we were here to do. All we could tell them was, “something new.”

It’s not that we didn’t have dreams and visions. We had an idea of what was happening downtown, had spoken to folk doing new things in other parts of the country, had ideas of what we did not want to do and plans on how to begin again. We knew the elements needed to do this new thing in this new place, we just couldn’t say with certainty what it would be, because to decide ahead of time would have constrained us to the the things we already knew. We would have been limited to the potential we could grasp based on what we had experienced and what we felt called to, and we knew God’s visions for Downtown Phoenix, and Downtown Phoenix’s visions of God, were so much bigger than our limited perspectives. And so we did the most faithful thing we could think of.

We waited.

In our liturgical calendar we name these four weeks before Christmas, Advent. Advent is a time of waiting, but it is not a time of idleness. It is a time of preparation. Something is coming. Something is happening. A New Thing. And it takes time to prepare, because this New Thing is bigger than any of our perspectives. It’s bigger than the possibilities we could ever imagine. It has happened before, but it’s not quite done yet, and it needs all of us in order to fully become.

But how do we prepare for something when we don’t know what it is? when we can’t even fully grasp the possibility of it? We gather with folk who have different perspectives than ours, who dream different dreams and see different visions, and we begin to dream together. We turn to the tools that our traditions have used for generations before us: Hope, Love, Peace, Joy. And we listen very carefully for the universe to speak.

Shhh…

Do you hear it?

December 10, 2012

December Theology Pub

December 23rd, 2012 at 6 p.m.
Angels Trumpet Ale House

Topic: “Belief and Commitment in an Age of Skepticism and Irony”

Join us for conversation about what it means to believe in something and to make commitments, in a time when it’s unpopular to do so. We’ll look at this issue from at least a couple of different faith perspectives. Here’s a quote to get you thinking:

As a function of fear and pre-emptive shame, ironic living bespeaks cultural numbness, resignation and defeat. If life has become merely a clutter of kitsch objects, an endless series of sarcastic jokes and pop references, a competition to see who can care the least (or, at minimum, a performance of such a competition), it seems we’ve made a collective misstep. Could this be the cause of our emptiness and existential malaise? Or a symptom?

From: “How to Live Without Irony,” by Christy Wampole

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December 5, 2012

Community Candlelight Service

December 15, 2012, 6:00 p.m. @ Civic Space Park, 424 N Central Ave

Join City Square Church in a candlelight service of hope, solidarity, and peace as we seek to honor the holy ground in our midst.

As our days grow shorter and our nights grow longer this time of year bears significance for many of us. Whether this time of year signifies a time of celebrations with family and friends, the end of one year and the beginning of a new one, or the struggle to find moments of hope in hopeless places, come stand with your neighbors and hold a candle in the midst of the darkness.

Parking is free at meters on the weekends. Stay after the service to enjoy coffee, cider, hot chocolate and building community with others.

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December 4, 2012

Being Spiritual But Not Religious In Downtown Phoenix

“I’m spiritual, but not religious.”

This is a phrase that is becoming more and more commonplace throughout American society and a phrase I hear on almost a daily basis as I meet people in downtown Phoenix.

In fact, The Pew Research Center recently released a study that indicates:

The number of Americans who do not identify with any religion continues to grow at a rapid pace. One-fifth of the U.S. public – and a third of adults under 30 – are religiously unaffiliated today, the highest percentages ever in Pew Research Center polling.

A colleague of mine mentioned recently that older generations were “religious, but not spiritual” while younger generations, today, “are spiritual, but not religious.” Certainly there was a time when going to church on a Sunday morning was the socially expected thing to do. As the suburbs grew and people started to move out of the cities and into bigger houses with higher fences, churches became the community gathering places and social clubs. Being religious was practical and normative and not so much spiritual or mystical.

Today, churches are some of the last places many young people would voluntarily walk in to. That, however, does not mean that they don’t hold religious beliefs. It often just means that many have given up on trying to live out their faith through institutions they no longer see as relevant or even damaging to society. So, religion becomes less practical and functional, in society. Conversely, there seems to be, more than ever, a deep longing that people have to connect with something bigger than themselves, on a spiritual level.

I’ve been living in central Phoenix and working in downtown for five months now. Brian (my co-pastor) and I were inspired to begin a new faith community in downtown because we had both seen something new happening there that resonated with us on personal and spiritual levels. Indeed there is an excitement about this emerging city, led by creatives, entrepreneurs, intellectuals, community activists and business coalitions. Central Phoenix is quickly becoming a magnet for young professionals and progressive minded urban dwellers.  As the price of gasoline increases and the light rail expands, people are finding living in the city more sustainable and beneficial to their pocketbooks, in place of living in larger and less expensive homes in the suburbs, which require long and grueling commutes to work and back.

It also seems that people are drawn to Phoenix because it is a city that seems set on building community. You need only walk into one of the amazing locally owned and managed restaurants or bars in Phoenix to feel the communal vibe, or the art galleries that also act as event and office spaces, co-working spaces, independent coffee shops, seemingly unlimited mixers for professionals and entrepreneurs, gatherings and events in pop-up parks, and community festivals, all of which create a neighborhood and small community feel in the nation’s sixth largest city.

These are the new gathering places and social clubs, these are the places offering creative transformation and hope in our urban centers.

I wonder sometimes, though, if people are coming back to the urban centers to escape religion. Suburban churches tend to be “attractional” churches, meaning they depend on offering the best music, sermons, and programs to attract members. Many do really good work in the community but often suburban churches are like anything else suburban: cookie-cuter, corporate, and consumeristic.

It’s not that Phoenix doesn’t have churches. In downtown, aging cathedrals and sanctuaries stand tall enough to notice and offer architectural beauty, yet many see declining attendance each Sunday and many of their members commute from the suburbs for one reason or another.

Many people I’ve met, who live downtown, are happy not to be a part of anything religious, however, they pray, meditate, talk about making good moral and ethical decisions, and envision how to make our world a better place. Yet these things are private, these things have deep meaning, these things are “spiritual.”

It’s not that people don’t want to talk about these ever increasing personal practices, they just don’t want to deal with the baggage that comes with talking about God, religion, and especially Christianity. No one wants the potential judgement and the hypocrisy that comes with it.

So faith and spirituality bubble underneath the surface, but everyone hesitates to name it or discuss it.

How do we begin, then, to bring the conversation and practice of religion, faith, and spirituality into the public sphere in downtown Phoenix?

There’s a couple ways to do this.

First, you can transplant suburban church into downtown. That’s what a non-denominational mega church from the east valley is doing. A few months ago they purchased a historic downtown church that could no longer be supported by the denomination that built it. In January they will move in with hundreds of transplanted members and will instantly become one of the largest downtown churches. This isn’t a new idea. Thriving non-denominational churches throughout the country have identified the trend of younger populations moving back to our urban centers. Recognizing that everything old is new again, they are purchasing properties from dying mainline downtown congregations and transplanting growing evangelical congregations into them. How will these churches and their members interact with what is already happening in these cities? Will they contribute and enhance the uniqueness and organic-ness of these emerging centers or will they simply create the very thing that everyone who came to the city was trying to escape from? I have no doubt that whatever happens they will do good work and they will change lives in the community.

However, an alternative way we can bring religion, faith and spirituality to the surface is to recognize the work that God is already doing in the city. We can create space and opportunities for open and honest conversation about our beliefs and spiritual connectedness. We can identify and name those sacred spaces that provide meaning and hope for the community. We can join together as partners in showing what it means to offer grace and love to those in need. We can celebrate and mourn together through shared practices and rituals. We can vision together and challenge each other, our leaders and elected officials to continue to create a community that offers a future of hope for all of its people and the environment we live in.

As downtown Phoenix emerges and finds its voice, how will religion and spirituality be a part of it?  Will faith and spirituality be as unique as the city itself? Will it be creative, innovative, and artistic? Will it be prophetic and visionary? If faith is to become part of the fabric of Phoenix, it won’t be through the work of one church or faith community, it will be through the work of many partnering together, along with those who individuals and groups who are non-religious. That’s been my favorite discovery about Phoenix: it’s a city being built on community partnerships and togetherness. It’s not perfect and at times it’s messy, but overall, it’s hopeful and it’s beautiful. I’m honored and privileged to be a part of shaping the future of Phoenix. If you’re part of this community, I hope you feel the same way and I hope you will join me on this journey of creating something new and meaningful for a great city.

This post originally appeared on robrynders.com