Good ideas from DC area churches

  • During prayer requests shared from the pulpit, the pastor asks, "who will let _____ know that we are praying for her?" -- Foundry UMC
  • "Zippers" are groups that gather for fellowship based on their zip code.  From _____ church.


Church Hopping

I'm still seeking a church home in the Washington, D.C. area.  In the process, I have the joy of getting acquainted with various congregations across the region.  I will say that, on the whole, it is remarkable how backward (er, traditional) they all are in comparison to churches in the midwest.  But, they do execute their liturgy and music with an excellence I thought was lost to history.

 By the way, if you think church "shopping" is a bad idea, I head someone refer to it as "dating" to find the right relationship.

Herein are simply my notes after visiting.

 St James UMC

 Wow! A truly contemporary congregation, or "indigenous" as they refer to themselves.  Still quite a small church, but very authentic.  Finally a church that felt "real."  They're also pretty successful at  the challenge of doing contemporary worship with a smaller congregation, which can be really tough.

Contemporary music headed in the right direction, fully video-ready, diverse age & racial mix, service to the homeless.  Sacred cows are dead. Ready to grow.

Foundry UMC

Uber social justice.  Building homes for the homeless in cooperation with the Mayor.

Phenomenal choir.  Magnificent neighborhood presence.  5 blocks from the White House.

Old Presbyterian Meeting House 

Deeply rooted in history, but very much alive.  The Sunday evening "contemporary" service, however, is only contemporary by George Washington's standards.

Welcoming people, age mix, in Old Town, sponsor concert series, moderate theology. 


Bathed in the Grace of Community

This morning was Communion Sunday at the church I visited.  Today, Communion was served at the front of the church in small groups.  Several hymns had been selected to sing while waiting for other to receive the elements.  As time came for our row to go forward, I laid aside my hymnal, and moved into the line. 

In true United Methodist tradition, this was a singing congregation.  As I stood waiting my turn, and knelt to receive the elements, I didn't have the lyrics to sing along.  Instead, I was simply bathed in the song of others, reverberating through the marvelous acoustics of the church. 

What a powerful metaphor for the Church!  Sometime we are the singers, carrying on the tune that has been sung for two millenia, and serving those who are not able to sing along.  At other times, we are the ones bathed in the songs of others, while God's grace is extended to us.


Living in a right-click world

After spending a fair amount of time exploring the latest in online activities, I find myself curiously frustrated with the physical world. 

In MMOGs like Second Life, more information about any object or person is available with just a right-click of the mouse. Right-click:properties.  Or, even better, the player's name hovers overhead.  Anyone who has ever attended a conference or trade show can tell you how much easier it is to talk to someone when you don't have to struggle to remember their name.

right-click people.JPG

In online social communities like Myspace, I can learn all about a person before deciding if I want to meet them, or even talk to them.  I can have a deeper relationship with a stranger in the first conversation than I have with longtime acquaintances.

Back to the physical world.  I find myself wanting to right-click a highway intersection to find out who designed it, and then send them an email explaining why it doesn't work.  Or right-click a building material to find out who manufactured it. I want names that hover overhead.  If you're an interesting looking person, I want to read more about you to find out if we have something in common to talk about.

It is only a matter of time until the information amenities we have come to expect online will find a way into the real world. 

Some already have--take, for example, the Asian cell phones which can identify songs playing in any commercial or on TV.  Right-click:title.




Recently, been looking at MySpace for some new friends.  It's a really fascinating exercise in discovering the vast diversity of people, and also some of the remarkable things so many share in common.


Ran across this stellar quote about relationships from an urban planner in TX, which could easily apply to me, too. "One bad thing about me is that I have no sense of timing in friendships and relationships. The analogy is in driving my car: I'll wait forever to make a left turn, and then, nervous because of the cars accumulating behind me, dart into traffic. The result is that in my desire for people I'm afraid to touch them, and then elbow them in the ribs." (