New Life Emerges from a Dying Congregation

Resurrection is taking place in Oklahoma as a once dying Episcopal Church has found new life in birthing a new congregation. The Church of the Savior in Yukon was down to 36 active members when worship stopped for a sabbatical period of discernment. What followed was new birth as the Revs. Tim and Kirsten Baer, funded in large part by a $100,000 Church Planting Grant from the Episcopal Church and a $500,000 grant from the Diocese of Oklahoma, forged a new vision and kindled a sense of hope as they worked with a dozen members to reboot the church.

Our Savior became Grace as the new vision and new sense of calling needed a new name, like Saul becoming Paul as he responded to the call to be an Apostle to the Gentiles. They became a church for post-evangelical Christians who as Tim says, “Don’t want to give up Jesus, but they need a new lens for the Bible, for theology, and for how to do church.”

Learning from the emerging church as they sought to build a traditional one, the Baers brought a church plant mentality and a missional eye to the struggling congregation. They had a clear vision for their unique mission field and a willingness to flex the tradition in order to reach new people.

Newly graduated from seminary, the Baers looked around their mission field, which was a little more than 5-mile radius, and asked where they fit into the church landscape. The two priests realized their niche was a “third way” in a via media between traditional organ and choir led worship and the contemporary mega-church rock band churches that are so entertainment driven. Kirsten says, “We blend old and new, ancient and modern, and connect liturgy and sacraments to people’s lives.” Tim adds, “Some people come to Grace and say ‘whoa, this is really traditional’ and others say, ‘whoa, this is really contemporary.’ We consider that a good thing – it means we’ve struck the via media.”

The Baers now see how once the vision clarified all of the decisions came easier—worship style, music, projector screens, how to do hospitality, and a focus on Anglican Essentials for newcomers—as they looked for ways to translate the tradition and make it accessible. Tim notes, “We are ‘lowering the speed bump’ into the Episcopal Church—all the while not throwing out the baby with the bath water.”

The vision for Grace included those who were already part of the congregation becoming evangelists too. Kirsten recalls that those existing members who had the courage to join in the rebirth became passionate and excited about creating a Christian community that could spark a connection with their children and grandchildren. Kirsten said, “We emphasized our hope of being an intergenerational church and they also desperately wanted that.”

Looking back, Kirsten says she sees how some people who started out nervous and even angry became the biggest supporters and most successful evangelists. Kirsten said, “They brought family and friends and quickly helped us grow the church. It was an exciting process to see people’s hearts and minds change and in such a missional way.”

Two further components were unique in their early emphasis at Grace Church—Hospitality and a Rule of Life:

Hospitality
Thirty percent of the congregation trained as Hospitality members. While there is a rotation, the saying is that “Even when you are not on duty, you are on duty.” Within 48 hours they get a phone call, email or card depending on the information provided. The retention rate for those who attend is roughly fifty percent. Beyond this hospitality, there is always something new to invite others to and there are lots of ways to connect to the community.

Rule of Life
The Rule of Life focuses on Authentic Relationships, Sacramental Lives, and Generous Hearts (http://graceyukon.org/content.cfm?id=306). “The Rule of Life leveraged the vision for the whole community” Tim said. To move people from visiting to fully being part of Grace Church a Foundations of Grace Course starts with the Rule of Life and the vision for Grace Church. Part of each first session is to ask people where they have seen the Rule of Life exemplified in the community. Often they will say something like “I saw authentic relationships as soon as I walked in the door.” People report experiencing authenticity right away and connect that this is what they do want church to be about. Visitors in various ways say they sense the intentionality behind our worship and find it very accessible.

New Challenges
Now two and a half years into the reboot, as more former evangelicals have found a home at Grace the church has baptized their spouses and children. Twenty percent the church is comprised of new Christians. The ongoing growth has led to new challenges.

For the first year the challenge was forging and living into the new vision. In the second year, the challenge was to create more programs. They launched their second service last year with 9:15 and 11 a.m. liturgies on Sundays. This contributed to a 40% rise in attendance in just over six months from 115 in attendance on an average Sunday to 160-165 in two services.

In the last year, Grace Church not only launched a second Sunday morning liturgy, but they also started a youth ministry and formed three outreach ministry teams—a hunger team, a mentor ministry team, and a laundry love ministry. Now as they are past year two, the challenge has been to create more committees. “It’s not sexy, but it has been essential work to support the ministry and growth,” Tim says.

By the end of 2015, Grace Yukon had about 200 members on the roles together with more people who attend, but have yet to join. Tim says, “What I find amazing is that we have done over 40 baptisms. About a third have been infants, a third older kids, and a third adults.”

Kirsten adds that the growth at Grace, “was about reaching those closest to them with good news of Jesus. Relational evangelism is really what helped us grow especially in the very beginning.”


Grace Church’s Leadership Team

The Collect Call: For Easter (Digitally Remastered!)

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A digitally remastered picture disk edition of our first show! We didn’t know what we were doing when we started, so the audio was terrible…now, with our acquired skills, experience the early episodes of The Collect Call like never before.

This Week’s Prayer

Almighty God, who through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ overcame death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life: Grant that we, who celebrate with joy the day of the Lord’s resurrection, may be raised from the death of sin by your life-giving Spirit; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

(page 222 of the Book of Common Prayer, or bcponline.org)

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The Collect Call is a founding member of the Via Media Collective, a network of podcasts with an Anglican sensibility. Follow the collective on Twitter and Facebook.

More about this podcast

Theme Music: Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence, performed by Aaron DeVries, distributed under a CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 license.

The Collect Call: For the Departed 2

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With special guest Corban Qualls, we explore hope and the afterlife, and why the various occasions these collects were composed for exist in the first place.

This Week’s Prayer

Almighty God, we remember before you today your faithful servant N.; and we pray that, having opened to him the gates of larger life, you will receive him more and more into your joyful service, that, with all who have faithfully served you in the past, he may share in the eternal victory of Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

(page 253 of the Book of Common Prayer, or bcponline.org)

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The Collect Call is a founding member of the Via Media Collective, a network of podcasts with an Anglican sensibility. Follow the collective on Twitter and Facebook.

Links from the Show

This episode of 99% Invisible explains the history of Hydrox cookies in the first few minutes, but the whole thing is well worth listening to.

More about this podcast

Theme Music: Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence, performed by Aaron DeVries, distributed under a CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 license.

The Collect Call Encore Edition – for the Fourth Sunday in Lent

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An encore edition of one of our greatest hits – Wherein we find ourselves at a loss answering deep theological questions from the five year old mind, and marvel at some truly confounding cake recipes.

This Week’s Prayer

Gracious Father, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came down from heaven to be the true bread which gives life to the world: Evermore give us this bread, that he may live in us, and we in him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

(page 219 of the Book of Common Prayer, or bcponline.org)

How to listen

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How to Connect

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The Collect Call is a founding member of the Via Media Collective, a network of podcasts with an Anglican sensibility. Follow the collective on Twitter and Facebook.

Links from the Show

This episode of 99% Invisible explains the history of Hydrox cookies in the first few minutes, but the whole thing is well worth listening to.

More about this podcast

Theme Music: Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence, performed by Aaron DeVries, distributed under a CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 license.

Your Free Easter Invitation Video

Get your 2017 Easter cartoon here!

Your friends at the Acts 8 Movement are glad to offer the Episcopal Church a video for congregations to promote their Easter liturgies. The video above is our gift to you. You may post it as is, or you can download a high resolution video and with some basic video editing skills create a customized video for your congregation.

We thank the Episcopal Church’s Presiding Bishop Michael Curry for his voiceover cameo role in the English language video. We also offer the video in more of the languages our churches worship in with Spanish, French, Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, Tagalog, Ilocano, and Dinka language versions.

A Note About Customizing this Video
When we launched our Christmas and Ash Wednesday videos, we added a blank spot right before the closing “The Episcopal Church Welcomes You” for congregations to add their service times or other information into the video itself. Now with experience, we see that the process takes time and gives an easy spot for those watching the video to move on as many users watch 95% of the video. We’ve omitted this blank space in the Easter video, realizing that the effort does not provide the desired results. This is an iterative process and we are seeking to learn. To find out more of what we have discovered along the way, please read Nurya Love Parish’s helpful post 7 Lessons from the Ash Wednesday Video Experiment.

Those with video editing skill may still customize the video. You could add your church name, the URL of the church website, or the logo to the video itself. You may even add a photo from your congregation with some information during “The Episcopal Church Welcomes You.”

The files you need are linked below each video. Simply Right Click the links to save the files, then upload to your congregation’s Facebook page as a video. Add a brief invite and service times and you are done. Or just embed or link the YouTube video above or any of these videos at our Acts8 YouTube Channel.

English language version MP4 file:
EasterInvitation.mp4

Spanish language version MP4 file:
EasterInvitation-Spanish.mp4

French language version MP4 file:
EasterInvitation-French.mp4

Korean language version MP4 file:
EasterInvitation-Korean2.mp4

Mandarin language version MP4 file:
EasterInvitation-Mandarin.mp4

Cantonese language version MP4 file:
EasterInvitation-Cantonese.mp4

Ilocano language version MP4 file:
EasterInvitation-Ilocano.mp4

Tagalog language version MP4 file:
EasterInvitation-Tagalog.mp4

Dinka language version MP4 file:
EasterInvitation-Dinka.mp4

The Director’s Cut
The Nine languages in one Video version MP4 file:
EasterInvitation-MultiLingual.mp4

Advertise on Facebook
We encourage you to use this video as if it were your own in sharing the Good News this Easter. The following tutorial is provided to walk you through the process of downloading the video from this post, uploading it to Facebook, and creating a Facebook ad.

Facebook automatically plays videos uploaded to the site which is why we recommend this option. If the downloading and uploading process is a challenge, feel free to simply post a link to the video on YouTube in your invitation.

There is no charge for using this video, it is simply our gift to you.

We wish you a most joyous Easter,
The Acts 8 Movement

We Are Still Learning – Give Us Feedback
The Acts 8 Movement continues to learn based on your feedback. Nurya Love Parish will be conducting another survey of churches who use the Acts 8 Movement ad in the Easter season. To participate, please provide your email address using the form at the end of this post.

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Thank You to the Many People Who Worked on this Project
Thanks to David Simmons who wrote and recorded the original score for this video edited and produced by Frank Logue. We give thanks to Alex Montes-Vela and his sister Sandra Vela for once again translating and recording the Spanish language video. Ada Wong-Nagata once again came through with a Cantonese language video and worked with the Episcopal Asian Ministries Chinese Convocation to record this in many voices as well as to create a Mandarin language video. Aidan Koh worked with the Korean convocation to create a Korean language version. Fred Vergara translated a Tagalog text for Filipino congregations and Leonard Oakes and Ruth Paguio worked with others to record the audio. Leonard Oakes also added a second of the major Filipino languages working to translate and record the voiceover in the Ilocano language. John Deng pulled together a group to create the Dinka language version for South Sudanese congregations. Pierre-Henry and Sophia Buisson provided the translation and audio for the French language version.

A Note About Permissions
You may use this video without concern for copyright infringement or incurring any fees for this usage.

We created this video using original video recorded for this project together with clips purchased from videoblock.com and are using them within that licensing agreement. Everyone participating donated their time and work product to the project.

The Collect Call: For Aid Against Perils

Regular readers of the Daily Office probably know this collect by heart and it was for hundreds of years required to be said daily. BONUS: What does the Rev. Dr. Massey Shepherd, Jr. have against compline?

Pearl Bailey publicity still. William Morris Agency, available under public domain.
Pearl Bailey publicity still. William Morris Agency, available under public domain.

 

 

The Collect Call

This Week’s Links

Friend of the show Fr. David Kendrick’s recordings of the Daily Office on Soundcloud.

How to Listen

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How to Connect

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The Collect Call is a founding member of the Via Media Collective, a network of podcasts with an Anglican sensibility. Follow the collective on Twitter and Facebook.

More about this podcast

Theme Music: Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence, performed by Aaron DeVries, distributed under a CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 license.

The Collect Call: For Ash Wednesday

Wherein we discover what Ash Wednesday and Prayer C have in common.

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“Laments of an Active Volcano” – a view of Mt. Mayon, the most active volcano in the Philippines. Photo: Storm Crypt, distributed under a CC BY-NC-ND license.

The Collect Call

This Week’s Links

Last Year’s Ash Wednesday Show

How to Listen

■ iTunes ■ Stitcher ■ Soundcloud ■ RSS FeedBlubrry

How to Connect

Twitter ■ Facebook ■ Pinterest

The Collect Call is a founding member of the Via Media Collective, a network of podcasts with an Anglican sensibility. Follow the collective on Twitter and Facebook.

More about this podcast

Theme Music: Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence, performed by Aaron DeVries, distributed under a CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 license.

The Collect Call: For the Presentation

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Image: Russell Davies, distributed under a CC BY-NC license.

Learning about the mysterious linkage between Joseph and Mary bringing Jesus to the Temple and Groundhog Day.

The Collect Call

This Week’s Links

Customizable Ash Wednesday Video

How to Customize Your Ash Wednesday Video

Christmas Video Results

How to Listen

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How to Connect

Twitter ■ Facebook ■ Pinterest

The Collect Call is a founding member of the Via Media Collective, a network of podcasts with an Anglican sensibility. Follow the collective on Twitter and Facebook.

More about this podcast

Theme Music: Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence, performed by Aaron DeVries, distributed under a CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 license.

The Collect Call: Digital Evangelism

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A still image from the new Ash Wednesday video from the Acts 8 Movement, illustrating the anticipation that many views will be on mobile devices.

We interview Frank Logue and Nurya Love Parish about digital evangelism, and how churches can use short videos to spread their message online.

The Collect Call

This Week’s Links

Customizable Ash Wednesday Video

How to Customize Your Ash Wednesday Video

Christmas Video Results

How to Listen

■ iTunes ■ Stitcher ■ Soundcloud ■ RSS FeedBlubrry

How to Connect

Twitter ■ Facebook ■ Pinterest

The Collect Call is a founding member of the Via Media Collective, a network of podcasts with an Anglican sensibility. Follow the collective on Twitter and Facebook.

More about this podcast

Theme Music: Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence, performed by Aaron DeVries, distributed under a CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 license.

The Collect Call: For the Confession of St. Peter

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Image: Caron Brown, distributed under a CC BY-NC license.

The Feast of the Confession of St, Peter: Come for the reflection on the unity of the church; stay for the Duane Johnson jokes.

This week’s collect:

Almighty Father, who inspired Saint Peter, first among the apostles, to confess Jesus as Messiah and Son of the living God: Keep your Church steadfast upon the rock of this faith, so that in unity and peace we may proclaim the one truth and follow the one Lord, our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

The Collect Call

How to Listen

■ iTunes ■ Stitcher ■ Soundcloud ■ RSS FeedBlubrry

How to Connect

Twitter ■ Facebook ■ Pinterest

The Collect Call is a founding member of the Via Media Collective, a network of podcasts with an Anglican sensibility. Follow the collective on Twitter and Facebook.

More about this podcast

Theme Music: Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence, performed by Aaron DeVries, distributed under a CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 license.