The art of reaching beyond church walls into the community

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

St. James United Church has seen first hand the importance of reaching out to its full community, whether they come to church once a week, or once in a blue moon. The church, under the leadership of youth minister Andrew Hyde and new pastor, Reverend John Alsop, has implemented a number of ways to keep their community connected, despite busy timetables and differing interests.

"It's not one size fits all," said Hyde. "We view our church community as wider than just who's showing up on Sunday morning. The youth who come on Tuesday and Thursday nights are just as much a part of it as the people who sing in the choir.

"They're all part of our family."

Church organizers go out of their way to involve a wide cross-section of the population. The Mom's Morning Out is held Thursday mornings from 9:30 -11 a.m., as way for young moms to get out and meet other moms for fellowship. Other groups have been formed for youth, communion or new members. They even have a group that plays badminton.

"It's neat to see people taking their faith and sense of community beyond Sunday mornings," said Hyde. "They're forming real friendships."

For the past year, the church has offered a "Come as you are" service. "It's the same content, but it's presented a little differently," said Hyde. It's a laid-back service held in the gym, where participants can relax with coffee, and arrive in jeans. It uses power point and videos to appeal to a more visual generation.

Although it began as a way to engage younger parishioners in Sunday service, it hasn't evolved that way.

"It's been really surprising to us. We have a really good mix at both services," said Hyde. "I think it's a mindset thing, rather than an age thing. If you're more of a casual, laid-back person, you might prefer the other service. But if ceremony is important to you, you'll probably enjoy the traditional service more."

The new service is just one part of a shift away from the rigid stereotypes of church.

The church is also embarking on a congregation-wide book club, of sorts. Each member will be reading God is Closer Than you Think, and splitting off into small discussion groups, starting February 27, to coincide with Lent. The church has launched a companion blog - a web-based log - to give participants a place to discuss their thoughts and feelings.

"Even if you can't participate in a group, you can still participate online," said Hyde. The church also has a blog of its own, where it posts baptisms, thoughts and upcoming events. Because comments are allowed, it's an interactive space, open to the entire church community.

The church also thrives on partnerships. Last October, the St. James youth group teamed up with similar groups across the community, to make the Halloween food drive a phenomenal success.

In April, St. James and Grindstone Valley Bible Church will be teaming up to hold an Easter Art Show.

Local residents interested in taking part can submit a piece that relates to either the death or the resurrection of Christ. They will all be assembled at the former St. Thomas Catholic Church on Palm Sunday, April 9, between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m., with a service at 8 p.m. Anyone with a piece to submit can contact Hyde at andrew@ stjameswaterdown.ca or Jeff Strong at jstrong@grindstonechurch.com.

The show is a follow-up to a similar Christmas display that the two churches formed. Hyde feels the partnership is a valuable one for both congregations. "The more we do things together, the more we discover we have in common."

Anyone who would like to participate in a group, including the book discussion, can contact St. James Church at 905-689-6223.

The art of reaching beyond church walls into the community

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

St. James United Church has seen first hand the importance of reaching out to its full community, whether they come to church once a week, or once in a blue moon. The church, under the leadership of youth minister Andrew Hyde and new pastor, Reverend John Alsop, has implemented a number of ways to keep their community connected, despite busy timetables and differing interests.

"It's not one size fits all," said Hyde. "We view our church community as wider than just who's showing up on Sunday morning. The youth who come on Tuesday and Thursday nights are just as much a part of it as the people who sing in the choir.

"They're all part of our family."

Church organizers go out of their way to involve a wide cross-section of the population. The Mom's Morning Out is held Thursday mornings from 9:30 -11 a.m., as way for young moms to get out and meet other moms for fellowship. Other groups have been formed for youth, communion or new members. They even have a group that plays badminton.

"It's neat to see people taking their faith and sense of community beyond Sunday mornings," said Hyde. "They're forming real friendships."

For the past year, the church has offered a "Come as you are" service. "It's the same content, but it's presented a little differently," said Hyde. It's a laid-back service held in the gym, where participants can relax with coffee, and arrive in jeans. It uses power point and videos to appeal to a more visual generation.

Although it began as a way to engage younger parishioners in Sunday service, it hasn't evolved that way.

"It's been really surprising to us. We have a really good mix at both services," said Hyde. "I think it's a mindset thing, rather than an age thing. If you're more of a casual, laid-back person, you might prefer the other service. But if ceremony is important to you, you'll probably enjoy the traditional service more."

The new service is just one part of a shift away from the rigid stereotypes of church.

The church is also embarking on a congregation-wide book club, of sorts. Each member will be reading God is Closer Than you Think, and splitting off into small discussion groups, starting February 27, to coincide with Lent. The church has launched a companion blog - a web-based log - to give participants a place to discuss their thoughts and feelings.

"Even if you can't participate in a group, you can still participate online," said Hyde. The church also has a blog of its own, where it posts baptisms, thoughts and upcoming events. Because comments are allowed, it's an interactive space, open to the entire church community.

The church also thrives on partnerships. Last October, the St. James youth group teamed up with similar groups across the community, to make the Halloween food drive a phenomenal success.

In April, St. James and Grindstone Valley Bible Church will be teaming up to hold an Easter Art Show.

Local residents interested in taking part can submit a piece that relates to either the death or the resurrection of Christ. They will all be assembled at the former St. Thomas Catholic Church on Palm Sunday, April 9, between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m., with a service at 8 p.m. Anyone with a piece to submit can contact Hyde at andrew@ stjameswaterdown.ca or Jeff Strong at jstrong@grindstonechurch.com.

The show is a follow-up to a similar Christmas display that the two churches formed. Hyde feels the partnership is a valuable one for both congregations. "The more we do things together, the more we discover we have in common."

Anyone who would like to participate in a group, including the book discussion, can contact St. James Church at 905-689-6223.

The art of reaching beyond church walls into the community

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

St. James United Church has seen first hand the importance of reaching out to its full community, whether they come to church once a week, or once in a blue moon. The church, under the leadership of youth minister Andrew Hyde and new pastor, Reverend John Alsop, has implemented a number of ways to keep their community connected, despite busy timetables and differing interests.

"It's not one size fits all," said Hyde. "We view our church community as wider than just who's showing up on Sunday morning. The youth who come on Tuesday and Thursday nights are just as much a part of it as the people who sing in the choir.

"They're all part of our family."

Church organizers go out of their way to involve a wide cross-section of the population. The Mom's Morning Out is held Thursday mornings from 9:30 -11 a.m., as way for young moms to get out and meet other moms for fellowship. Other groups have been formed for youth, communion or new members. They even have a group that plays badminton.

"It's neat to see people taking their faith and sense of community beyond Sunday mornings," said Hyde. "They're forming real friendships."

For the past year, the church has offered a "Come as you are" service. "It's the same content, but it's presented a little differently," said Hyde. It's a laid-back service held in the gym, where participants can relax with coffee, and arrive in jeans. It uses power point and videos to appeal to a more visual generation.

Although it began as a way to engage younger parishioners in Sunday service, it hasn't evolved that way.

"It's been really surprising to us. We have a really good mix at both services," said Hyde. "I think it's a mindset thing, rather than an age thing. If you're more of a casual, laid-back person, you might prefer the other service. But if ceremony is important to you, you'll probably enjoy the traditional service more."

The new service is just one part of a shift away from the rigid stereotypes of church.

The church is also embarking on a congregation-wide book club, of sorts. Each member will be reading God is Closer Than you Think, and splitting off into small discussion groups, starting February 27, to coincide with Lent. The church has launched a companion blog - a web-based log - to give participants a place to discuss their thoughts and feelings.

"Even if you can't participate in a group, you can still participate online," said Hyde. The church also has a blog of its own, where it posts baptisms, thoughts and upcoming events. Because comments are allowed, it's an interactive space, open to the entire church community.

The church also thrives on partnerships. Last October, the St. James youth group teamed up with similar groups across the community, to make the Halloween food drive a phenomenal success.

In April, St. James and Grindstone Valley Bible Church will be teaming up to hold an Easter Art Show.

Local residents interested in taking part can submit a piece that relates to either the death or the resurrection of Christ. They will all be assembled at the former St. Thomas Catholic Church on Palm Sunday, April 9, between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m., with a service at 8 p.m. Anyone with a piece to submit can contact Hyde at andrew@ stjameswaterdown.ca or Jeff Strong at jstrong@grindstonechurch.com.

The show is a follow-up to a similar Christmas display that the two churches formed. Hyde feels the partnership is a valuable one for both congregations. "The more we do things together, the more we discover we have in common."

Anyone who would like to participate in a group, including the book discussion, can contact St. James Church at 905-689-6223.