World Day of Prayer service Friday, March 12 at 10:00 am at the Community Church. The service was prepared by women in Vanuatu, a large cluster of islands in the Pacific Ocean. For information about Vanuatu or the service, please go to https://worlddayofprayer.net/vanuatu-2021.html. Their story is amazing, inspiring and challenging. Women from several churches share in leading this service. We are limited to about 70 people for this service. All are welcome. No lunch afterward due to Covid-19.
We restarted worship services in the sanctuary at 10:15 am on Sundays in addition to our pre-recorded services. We are also exploring possibilities of addinng live Sunday morning worship.
The congregation on February 28 voted unanimously in favour of a call to Rev. Amanda and Rev. Sheldon Alley. We are now completing the work needed for them to come here. To learn more about the Alleys, go to the following website: ; www.stmarthastable.com (the website of their current ministry from a church without walls).
Intro by the Alleys: https://www.facebook.com/alistair.i.miller/videos/10159743023046002
On attracting new members: https://www.facebook.com/514616001/videos/10159742977051002/
Some thoughts on the Alleys from Alistair Miller, Chair of Council
At a time when face-to-face meeting is so constrained, it strikes me—initially— as remarkable just how much we have already learned about Sheldon and Amanda and their children. Indeed, we know more about them than I think would be the case for any others that we have called in the past half-century to the Community Church ministry. And all of it is very encouraging. But then—on reflection—for all its downsides, the pandemic has brought us new communicating skills and we’ve learned to use them. Indeed, we are almost awash with information on Sheldon and Amanda so I’ve excerpted a couple of topics from their hour-long introduction including their thoughts on building the congregation. I encourage you to look at some of the resources posted on the website to become more introduced.
In getting to know the Alleys, we have discovered a ministering team who fit our Needs Assessment document quite amazingly well. One of the distinctive features of our Needs Assessment is the range of faith beliefs within our congregation. They stretch broadly from progressive to traditional and cover ranges of understanding within those two words. The document below, “What is Progressive/Liberal Christianity?”—thanks to Walter Harrison for extracting it from their St Martha’s Table website—sets out Amanda and Sheldon’s position. It speaks eloquently of their respect for diversity and their welcoming of it.
In the now 55 years that Margaret and I have worshiped at Community Church, the diversity ministries have left marks, positive and negative. Usually, each incumbent has been some of us feeling blessed and some frustrated. My strong sense of the Alleys is that they will share with us a positive Christian perspective that we can all appreciate, enjoy and celebrate. They are caring and thoughtful with a resilience that comes from deep life experiences.
As to financial aspects, our understanding with the Alleys is that Community Church will remunerate them for a single ministry at United Church of Canada scales including a manse allowance.
What is Progressive/Liberal Christianity?
(From St. Martha’s Table website by Reverends Sheldon & Amanda Alley)
Progressive/Liberal Christianity means five things to us:
I. We treasure our Ancient Heritage, however, because of our Progressive Faith we are willing to question, seek, analyze, understand, and accept new ideas that are relevant to the time we live within.
- This is no different than in the days of the New Testament when the church questioned, the disciples taught, and they learned together in each church from Rome to Corinth to Thessalonica what was necessary within their own congregation to meet the needs of the people.
- Current day theology however has been strongly influenced by religious leaders in the form of doctrines that have produced compliance out of fear of either the church or a vengeful God. St. Martha’s Table does neither of these. We serve out of Love and with a belief in a God that loves, cherishes, blesses, and shares with us.
II. We accept that humanity is diverse, therefore we follow the inclusive teachings of Christ and are welcoming to those who may differ from ourselves.
- Genesis tells us that God made all humankind, males and females, and they were made in God’s image. Therefore, honored and valued creatures of God’s own creation, we respect and welcome inclusively male and female, all races and ethnicities, all orientations, all marital statuses, the differently abled, those who think differently from us, those on differing spiritual journeys from us, basically ALL of God’s children.
- This means that we also believe that an inclusive message means that all are welcomed into the full life of the church. It is not humankind’s to determine who is welcomed and who is not, nor it is our place to judge others, lest we ourselves be judged. We are commanded to love others AS we love ourselves.
III. We try to live the teachings of Christ’s message of Social Justice in giving care to the poor, seeking justice for the oppressed, and showing excellence in stewardship in all we do.
- This is evidenced by the social justice measures we enact by standing up, speaking out, and taking action to protect, defend, and assist the marginalized in our community and beyond as we are able.
- We have been equipped with the moral compass to know when another human is being harmed either emotionally, physically, or via other means. With this knowledge of morality it becomes our Christian duty to extend the gifts of love, grace, mercy, and peace to this person and to work on their behalf to reduce and eliminate the injustice being perpetrated towards them.
IV. We take seriously the commandment of Christ that we love others as we love ourselves.
- This is our central tenant – Love others AS we love ourselves. This is part two of the commandments that Christ gave as the foundational basis of all Christianity. When we love others as we love ourselves, those things that we used to find fault with disappear, they desire to have a servant’s heart that grows stronger, we begin to see blessings in helping others, we begin to see others grow to where they are able to help others, and the message multiplies many times over.
- So many today desire to find this freedom that love brings, a freedom in Christ that can only be described as “joy unspeakable”! Instead of an “Us vs. Them”, we find that with a shared love we recognize so many sisters and brothers that traditional religion shuns, ignores, or completely has thrown away as “not good enough”. As a creation of God, we don’t believe you have to be “good enough”, there is no church regulated measure, it is only a measure between you and God, as you understand God. Scripture tells us that no human can separate you from the love of God! That means no church, no minister or pastor, no member can take back that love God offers today. Love God back, and show love to others….the joy and peace is beyond belief!!!
V. We seek to mirror the teachings found throughout the Gospels which compel us through compassion to walk with others showing Love, Grace, Mercy, and Peace.
- As progressive/liberal Christians we have moved past the legalistic dogmas and doctrines that so often bind, restrict, and confuse people today. If you compare one group to another, they all differ and cannot agree on what is right. This is because they are for the most part man-made, an interpretation of scripture that was just decided on based on an organizations position. The reality is and the Good News is that Christ’s message is very simple. Looking to his words that are recorded by humans and the historical account of His life, we see that He taught a message rooted in love, surrounded in compassion, filled with mercy that offered grace beyond expectation and provided a peace that was thereunto unknown.
- Our duty today is to practice this love in our own lives and offer those gifts of love, grace, mercy, and peace to others, for in doing so we experience them ourselves. Our relationship with God is so much more than just an acknowledgment that God is God! We are justified by faith, but there must be some action to back that up. It is like being a Doctor. You have to go to medical school, serve a residency, take your boards and obtain a licence…….then you are a Doctor, just like our faith makes us Christian….BUT, if the doctor never sees a patient and never practices what they were taught, are they really a Doctor? It’s the same with us, we can be like the Doctor and be a Christian in name and church attendance, but if we never put the measures Christ lived as an example in front of us to work, then are we really living our mission? We must love others as ourselves and not in words alone.
Some would ask if we are “New Age” Christians? The answer is no, our heritage is ancient but our faith is progressive and open in our exploration of our spirituality. Our faith, our practices, and our beliefs are all drawn from many styles of theological or religious thought ranging from Orthodoxy, Roman and Old Catholic, Anglican, and Evangelical, from liberation to conservative, from liturgical, non-liturgical to charismatic, from the tangible to the intangible, the historic to the contemporary, from the scripture to wisdom. Our progressive faith teaches us to question, to reason, to use critical thought, education, and intelligence, all of which are God given to determine our beliefs and our walk with God.
We accept and embrace a spiritual journey rather than a doctrinal infused, human controlled code that all must follow. We embrace, believe, and follow the teachings of Christ, believing that He is our example of how we are to live our lives. We value the gifts God has given us in the manner of arts, intellect, science, and the ability to ask questions and seek answers.
We embrace our sisters and brothers from other Christian denominations and those from other faith systems and non-faith systems. We may not agree on a theological position with them, but we embrace them as fellow humanity and affirm their right to the spiritual journey they are on. We understand that many will see God differently than we see God and that is no reason to cause division or separation between people. It is through mutual sharing and understanding that the fullness of life is discovered. We recognize that all faith and non-faith systems have lessons we too can learn that can be applied within our Christian walk.
Quoting from Wiki, “ Holding to the ideals of progressive Christianity sets the movement apart from traditional Christianity. Inclusiveness and acceptance is the basic posture of progressive Christianity. Progressive Christians tend to focus on issues of social justice and inclusion, rather than proselytizing efforts to convert others to their own particular way of thinking, as conservatives and mainstream Evangelicals tend to emphasize. Progressive Christians believe that Christ came to “save the lost and downtrodden,” and place emphasis on caring for the poor, whereas conservatives tend to preach moral principles, and stress the need for the lost and downtrodden to accept Jesus Christ as the only way to salvation in addition to caring for the poor. However, this does not mean that Progressive Christians do not adhere to traditional notions of Christian doctrine, such as sin, salvation, the divinity of Christ, the virgin birth, the resurrection”……….
Many well known persons are Progressive/Liberal or Emerging Christians such as The Rev. Jay Bakker, The Rev. Tony Campolo, The Rev. Dr. Michael Piazza, Former President Jimmy Carter, The Rev. Dr. Matthew Fox, The Rev. Robert H. Schuller, Bishop John Shelby Spong, Bishop Gene Robinson, Bishop Carlton Pearson, The Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson, and many, many others.
There are a number of other denominations, churches and ministries other than St. Martha’s Table that are taking Progressive Christianity and Social Justice quite seriously. They include, The Independent Sacramental Movements (Independent, Liberal, or Reformed Catholics), Alliance of Baptists, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), The Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Metropolitan Community Church, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the Progressive National Baptist Convention, the United Church of Christ, United Church of Canada, The Unity Fellowship, and the Unitarian Universalist. There are many more than this, but this shows how the face of Christian thought and theology is turning to the real message of Christ.
We at St. Martha’s Table see that our faith is lived out through mirroring the life and teachings of Christ and that these teachings are historically given from God throughout the Old Testament as well. Both Christ’s teachings and the historic texts of the Old Testament teach a social consciousness that requires love, care, and compassion for the sufferings of our fellow humankind.
Lest one think that we are just making up our directives to be socially conscious, we are including a complete Scriptural reference for reference.
If you are tired of focusing on religion based in fear and condemnation and you are wanting a spiritual journey of self-discovery that follows a message of the love, grace, mercy and peace of Christ, one that uplifts, encourages, and validates God as a loving parent, a gentle giver of life, and a lover of your soul, then we invite you to join us on this journey.
On the pages that are linked off of our Social Justice Tab you will find the specifics of what we hold as truths regarding our Social Justice ministry. Below that you will find the scriptural references. Within each linked page, you will find links for further reading, exploration, and understanding. We do not necessarily endorse, support, or find theological agreement with the entire content that may be found on the websites that are linked, but they are all sites which will provide avenues for further research in your journey of faith.
We participated in a joint Zoom service with Calvin and Wesley United Church on Sunday, February 21 consdiering the Church of the Future. Here is a link to a recording of that service: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ERLZmmuxVXk
Here is the link to a short video about Ash Wednesday and Lent. https://youtu.be/lMS4-gZedMA
Corona Virus Update: Our services in the church resume February 28. We will have a special general meeting after the service to discuss and vote on a call to Amanda and Sheldon Alley to serve as our next ministers. Our online services are available on demand under Worship on this page. We also provide links to other sites and are collaborating with other churches in the Upper Valley to provide other online activities. Information for these is posted under events. Please read below for more information. If you wish to talk to the minister, call Jim at 343-369-4941 or email him at email@example.com.
Deep River Community Church sits on a hill overlooking the road into Deep River —in spirit, greeting new arrivals to our town.
We are an open, welcoming and diverse fellowship exploring and striving to live the all-encompassing love of Jesus.
To Contact Us:
Minister: firstname.lastname@example.org 343-369-4941
Office: email@example.com 613-584-2812