We are so proud and excited to launch this new contemplative podcast Looking Within led by Julie Stevens. Looking Within is a podcast for the spiritual explorer in each of us. Weekly episodes invite the listener to explore the inner life using a contemplative lens. Through contemplative practices and ways of looking at the spiritual journey, we hope you gain a sense of hope, meaning, joy, and love.
Gloria Dei is such a vibrant church and place of worship for its community, it’s staff reflects this. We are so excited to welcome three new staff members to our unique, experienced, and awesome team. Say “hello” next time you see them!
Favorite Fruit: Pineapple
Secret Talent: I remain calm folding a fitted sheet.
Favorite motivational quote: Fix your ponytail and try again.
Children’s Programming Coordinator
Favorite Fruit: Honey Crisp Apples
Secret Talent: my goofy laugh
Favorite Motivational Quote: You don’t hope yourself to a goal; you decide, believe, behave like it’s yours, then earn it.
Digital Arts Specialist
Favorite Fruit: Watermelon
Secret Talent: I am really good at braiding hair.
Favorite Motivational Quote: You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have. -Maya Angelou
In 2015, Gloria Dei proudly adopted our Welcome Statement, publicly making known our open and affirming welcome of those in the LGBTQ+ community (and to all people). In the spring of 2019, Gloria Dei applied to be listed as a “Reconciling in Christ” congregation to expand the awareness of that welcome and increase discovery of our warm community.
Reconciling in Christ
The Reconciling in Christ (RIC) Program is for congregations, synods, colleges, seminaries, and other Lutheran organizations and ministry communities who have made a public commitment to welcome, include and celebrate lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual (LGBTQIA+) people.
In order for the Gloria Dei statement to fit within the guidelines of RIC, a small but helpful language change was required on the following line item: “Open to people who are straight, gay, bi, transgender, or questioning” to “Open to people of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions.” The distinction is helpful because it encompasses much more of the community and keeps an open door for more to come.
More Can Find Us
With the adoption of our welcome statement years ago, we intentionally decided to be a welcoming and affirming community. The RIC certification allows for those looking for a faith community that is friendly to them as an LGBTQ+ individual, couple, or ally to find us and to realize the support they have here. Communications Director Rachel Meyer says, “RIC serves as a database for church shoppers to use as a tool. The RIC program ensures that those who are on the list’s welcome is authentic and lived out, not just written in a statement.”
Why a Special Welcome is Helpful
An RIC approved welcome statement can provide clarity and safety to the LGBTQ+ community. Pastor Carrie explains, “Becoming RIC helps to show the validity of our welcome statement. There are times when churches may claim to be welcoming but do not live that out in practice, which leads to more wounds. By going through the RIC program, we are showing that we mean what we say - the LGBTQ+ community are welcome as their full, authentic selves at Gloria Dei.”
This welcome is important, especially in this moment. “The LGBTQ+ community has often been hurt, rejected, and condemned by the church simply for being themselves. We can be the voice that proclaims the true love of God to all people by reaching out and providing a safe space for this community and all people to share their stories,” says Pastor Carrie.
As Pastor Dave begins his Sabbatical exploring Celtic Spirituality, there are a few opportunities for the congregation to study the idea of Sabbath, as well as a deeper dive into Celtic Christian Spirituality. Pastor Charles and Julie Stevens will each be leading two separate books studies - you are invited to join in one or both!
Sabbatical Book Study: “Celtic Spirituality” with Charles
(based on “Listening for the Heartbeat of God” by J. Philip Newell)
Sundays, May 5 and May 12, from 10:00 - 10:45 in the loft
“A few years ago, I had the pleasure to “stumble” upon Celtic Spirituality. It has dramatically changed my understanding of Christ’s teachings. I would love to share my findings with you.” -- Charles
“Every time the church split, it left some of its treasures at the fork in the road.” In two thousand years, the church has experienced many, many splits, leaving behind countless treasures. In many respects, the message of the church today is lacking in its power to transform. The Celtic Church did not experience these same splits. It offers us a unique opportunity to critique our teachings and practices. Are they really what Christ and St. Paul taught? Or, are they merely our own traditions and customs?
Books are provided, free of charge!
Sabbatical Book Study: “Sabbath” with Julie
(based on “The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath” by Mark Buchanan)
Opening Gathering: Sunday, May 19 from 10:00-10:45am in the Loft
May 20-June 1: Access daily small group leadership from Julie via a Sabbath Facebook group
Closing Gathering: Sunday, June 2 from 11:00-11:45am in the Loft
Non-productivity. Rest. Refreshment. Stillness. These states of “being” hardly seem possible in a culture that reveres productivity and achievement, and where busyness is the accepted norm. God gave us the gift of Sabbath -- not just as a day, but as an orientation, as a way of being wholistically held together. Buchanan’s book will help change our thinking about the way most of us move through daily life, and provide us with simple practices to reinforce our new insights into Sabbath.
Join our “Sabbath Book Study” Facebook group to sign up: facebook.com/groups/sabbathstudy. Brief small group leadership by Julie will be posted each day in this group with an emphasis on supporting each other through the book study. If you do not have Facebook, you can sign up at the Hospitality Desk or by emailing Julie at email@example.com. Books are provided, free of charge!
More About The Sabbatical Focus
The grant was written to specifically fund a time of renewal that will have an emphasis on exploring Celtic Christian spirituality. With its emphasis on creation spirituality and original blessing among other ideas, Dave believes that some of the core attributes of the age old Celtic Christian tradition have much to teach us today.
He will spend some time in Iona, Scotland studying and touring the home of the Celtic church. He will also learn from noted theologian John Philip Newall at the New England School of Celtic Consciousness in Madison, Connecticut.
Join us for the Send Off Lunch for Pastor Dave as he begins his Sabbatical
You are invited to a send off lunch for Pastor Dave on Sunday, April 28th at Noon in the Garden Lounge. Dave will share a bit about his Sabbatical and how you can be involved with the topics he’ll be studying.
Frequently Asked Questions About Dave’s Sabbatical:
When is the Sabbatical?
It begins on Sunday, April 28 and ends on Sunday, August 4.
Dave getting an extended vacation?
This is not a vacation—but a time of intentional exploration, reflection and slowing down.
With pastors working most weekends and holidays, it is the suggestion of our synod to take a sabbatical every seven years to rejuvenate and have time to explore new ideas.
Is Dave leaving Gloria Dei?
Nope— He is more excited than ever to be here! But he will be suspending his social media accounts and taking a break from his iPhone for a few months. If you need something be sure to contact the church office.
What about Charles leaving?
Dave planned/applied for/was granted this sabbatical long before Charles announced his retirement. He will be back two months before Charles is done, and will help lead in the time of transition.
What will be happening at Gloria Dei while Dave is gone?
All the normal things we do in late Spring/early Summer. Additionally, there will be two special grant funded classes for people to participate in. Julie will lead a two week class on Sabbath, and Charles will lead a two week class on Celitic Christian spirituality. These are two key ideas Dave will be exploring during his time away, and he will be sharing more with us on these topics upon his return.
How much money is this costing Gloria Dei?
Nothing… in fact… Gloria Dei is receiving funding to make this sabbatical a reality. The Lilly Foundation (Indianapolis, Indiana) awarded Gloria Dei a grant to cover all costs connected to the sabbatical. In addition to Dave’s travel, activities, etc., they will cover some of Carrie’s salary, books for adult education opportunities, congregational meals, and other expenses. Read more about the Lilly Grant that Gloria Dei has received for Dave’s Sabbatical.
What is the size of this grant?
Why did Gloria Dei get this grant?
This is an honor! The Lilly Foundation funds a very limited number of innovative congregations and their leaders. Based on the work that we have been doing at Gloria Dei, they wanted to fund Dave’s sabbatical. The idea is that rested, energized leaders who have time to further their learning and explore new ideas will be even stronger upon their return. It’s a win/win!
Will Dave be in Scotland for all three months?
Nope! He will spend two weeks touring Scotland and taking classes on Celtic spirituality. Robyn and the girls will join him for a week in the UK before they come home.
What will Dave be doing?
Four day retreat in Arizona
Two weeks studying Celtic Christian Spirituality in Scotland
A week touring the UK with Robyn and the girls
Family reunions/vacation/road trip
Attend a week long class at the New England School of Celtic Consciousness in Connecticut
Attend the Wild Goose Festival of Spirit, Justice, Music and Arts in North Carolina
Walking his dogs and exercising!
What if instead of talking about a story, we got to experience it? What if the realities of love, abundance, death and new life were not abstract terms, but present reality? What if the central story of our faith came alive in a new way?
The Three Days is a Gloria Dei tradition taking us from the Last Supper of Maundy Thursday, through the crucifixion of Good Friday, to the first announcement of resurrection (and the feast!) of Easter Vigil. Think of it as one worship service in three parts… One “play” in 3 acts with 23 hour intermissions! This is a highly interactive, participatory worship experience.
Join us as we use storytelling, music, food, video and drama to encounter the story of love that changes the world. There will be free childcare in the nursery on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night during The Three Days services. All are welcome!
Act One: A Feast of Love
Maundy Thursday, April 18, 7pm
Join in a candle lit meal of bread and wine with friends. Share stories, learn about love, and experience the presence of Christ through food and community. We will participate in the story of the Last Supper that Jesus spent with his friends. As the evening closes, we will take a break until Friday night when we gather again for “Act Two.”
Act Two: A Cross and a Hill
Good Friday, April 19, 7pm
Through music, storytelling, and images, we meet Jesus on a hill, and stand at the foot of the cross. We become first hand witnesses to this moment that changed everything, and discover how our story connects. At the end of the evening, we take another break until we gather for the third and final act.
Act Three: New Life
Easter Vigil, April 20, 7:30pm
The evening begins in the courtyard by a fire… this is the first light of Easter. We light candles from this fire and begin a journey from death to new life through drama, story, music, and video. We hear how those who have gone before us moved (time after time) from death to new life. In the end, we ultimately discover that this journey is a part of our story too. The night closes celebrating that “Jesus is Risen!” The three act worship experience ends with a feast of food and drink and the official beginning of the Easter celebration.
Holy Week Schedule:
Maundy Thursday: 11am in the Sanctuary & 7pm in Worship Center (Day One of Three Days)
Good Friday: 11am in the Sanctuary & 7pm in Worship Center (Day Two of Three Days)
Easter Vigil: 7:30pm in Worship Center & Sanctuary (Day Three of Three Days)
9am & 10:30am in the Sanctuary (featuring Sanctuary Singers, Brass Ensemble, & Glorious Bells)
9am & 11am in the Worship Center (featuring Ska Band)