Soon I will celebrate my 10-year anniversary of ordination. Unbelievable.
I have been serving Grace Commons and its predecessor, Wicker Park Grace, for ten years. Even as new possibilities open up, I will continue to serve as the pastor at Grace Commons–but things are changing!
Beginning November 1st, I will also become the half-time pastor at St. James Presbyterian Church in West Ridge (West Rogers Park), Chicago. On that day, my role with Grace Commons will also go from full-time to half-time.
I will be a full-time pastor, but for two communities simultaneously. Am I nervous? Yes. Am I excited? YES!
This will be a wonderful next step for me in my development as a pastor. I will explore and experiment with how to bring all that I have learned, discovered, and developed at Grace Commons, the art-gallery church, into a more traditional (albeit open, creative, and generous) church.
Grace Commons has been gathering for Spiritual Practice, our primary Sunday Gathering, at the St. James Church since September 9th, and we’ll keep on doing so. I believe that St. James will benefit from the vitality of Grace Commons, and Grace Commons will benefit from the stability of St. James. Both will maintain their own identities, but we are always changed when we make new friends–and I hope this will be no exception to that rule.
By “sharing” a pastor, these two communities are both taking a step toward a more relational, collaborative, connectional style of ministry. Each community has much to offer the other, and much to gain.
Gathering in West Ridge, quite a bit further north than our original location in Wicker Park, creates new challenges and new opportunities for Grace Commons. We know that many of our far south-siders, who could make the trek to Wicker Park, will not make the long commute to West Ridge every week. That’s the challenge.
The opportunity is this: we’re expanding our ministry to include a partnership with the Hesed Community Co-operative in the Little Village/Douglas Park area.
On the first and third Sunday’s of the month, simultaneous to Grace Commons gathering at St. James, some of us will gather at Hesed Community at 5:30 pm for a shared meal, spiritual practice, and creative, original communion liturgy that we are developing for this purpose. (We’re grateful to St. Lydia’s Dinner Church in NYC for their inspiration!)
On the second and fourth Sundays, we’ll all gather together at St. James. Our intention is that we’ll continue to grow and develop in both locations, but keep coming together as a whole community at least twice a month at St. James.
Just to be clear, Grace Commons will be gathering at St. James every single week at 5:30 pm. We want that stability and constancy, even while developing the secondary gathering at Hesed Community Co-op on the 1st and 3rd Sundays.
The St. James community also gathers for worship, and I will be leading that with the community and a wonderful lead musician, at 10:30 on Sunday mornings. This is yet to be developed, but I know it will be interesting and beautiful in its own way.
There’s much more to tell, of course. This is the beginning of a growing dream, and as one person recently said, “we’re sailing this boat while we build it.” So we don’t know what all will happen. I guess we never do anyway! But we are sailing forward with dreams and possibilities–and with each other–as our circles of relationship and spheres of influence continue to grow.