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I am writing to say thank you for the rich event I was able to a attend recently: Spirituality in Times of Social Change. The depth of content, the diversity and breadth of the messages from 3 remarkable speakers and the flow of the evening made this all the more worthwhile and I am glad that my round-trip of 2 hours (road closures...) was so well rewarded. The church looked so beautiful and I thought there must have been 5 weddings - only to discover that it was another gift of the Pilgrims. Whether you do beauty; social justice; receive strangers (the Chinese congregation - complete with Mandarin script on your website), the marginalised on Sunday-nights or you serve justice for Nauru or Manus, you do it well and as witnesses and partakers we all feel inspired by this.
Rev Liellie McLaughlin
- 8am is my Spiritual Home
Pilgrim 8am is my preferred service of worship. For me, the celebration of the Eucharist or Holy Communion every Sunday is the basis of my Christian belief and practice. This contemplative service reminds us of Christ's sacrifice for us and his injunction to us to love others as he loved us.
John and I decided on the 8am service because its peace, serenity and meditative style suited our needs. He had been an Anglican and the weekly Eucharist was an integral part of his spiritual life. I, as a Congregationalist and then UCA member, had been accustomed to the monthly communion service. It was important to attend this central celebration of the church regularly and indeed, membership depended on it. I accepted this as part of our belief statement, but always wondered why, if it was so important, we didn't celebrate it more often.
When John's illness became terminal, the 8am service offered us the Eucharist whenever we could get to church. This sort of opportunity becomes very important as we get older and frailer. A monthly service missed means a two month or longer wait, far too long. Mind you, it means having to getting up early, but it is always worth the effort. After John's death, 8am has become even more important to me.
We are a small, close-knit community, providing loving fellowship and support based on the sharing of two meals, the bread and wine of the communion table and the rolls and coffee of our simple breakfast together afterwards. We get the special opportunity too, of having valuable time with our ministers and there are often visitors with whom to share experiences. There's nothing like talking over a meal to get to know one another better and we are privileged to be able to do this every week.
At Pilgrim we are spoilt for worship choices and to take part in them is a rewarding and interesting journey - one I recommend to others. I regularly attend Thursday lunchtime Eucharist; it's my volunteer day at Pilgrim so I'm there anyway. This is our church witnessing to city workers in particular. I attend 9.30am worship each week and 11 am occasionally. But for the centrality of the common table and reminder of its core teaching, 8am is my spiritual home.
I have changed
my faith has changed
gone is the old prison
that had for so long
held me captive
not knowing there were other ways of thinking.
Iíve put aside old beliefs
Iíve turned and struggled to find
new ways of thinking
relevant ways that reflect the world in which I live
I now wait unanxious
I wait with the endless question
not knowing the answer
but inwardly knowing there isnít an anwser
and that I donít need an answer
I wait with the mystery
I wait and find the richness and the blessing in the waiting
Up until quite recently I had been a member of the Anglican Church my whole life. But I started reading some books on progressive Christianity and attended a couple of lectures which challenged me to really think about what I believe. After much reflection I found myself either doubting or rejecting many of the things I had believed all my life. This led to a period where I didnít know where to go or what to do. Around this time I attended a workshop at the Effective Living Centre where I met several people from Pilgrim Uniting Church and they invited me to come along to Pilgrim and give it a go.
I have been attending the 9.30 am Community Worship Service at Pilgrim for over a year now and I really love it. I find these services thought provoking, challenging, spirit filled, at times reflective, always different and creative. At times I have been close to tears, the service has been so moving and meaningful.
I have found that Pilgrim embraces people who are at differing stages of their journeys - from those who are very traditional in what they believe through to those who are challenged with new ways of pondering the reality of God and of what the Christian faith means to them. I have appreciated being able to share with others about what we believe and what we have moved on from. It is great to feel that other people are travelling along a path similar to the one I am on.
At Pilgrim I have found people who are welcoming and friendly, people who are truly concerned with social justice issues and about how we as Christians can make a difference in the communities in which we live.
For me,Pilgrim Church has been like coming home. I feel in spite of being a relative new-comer that it is where I truly belong.
I have been asked to share with you how I was attracted to the Pilgrim Community, and who/what attracted me to it.
The initial reason for going to Pilgrim Church was because my husband and I were 'Church-hunting'. We had already checked out some churches in our neighborhood with no real success. The next step was to look in the city which was still reasonably close to where we lived at the time.
We had recently got married and decided to settle in Adelaide. Prior to this we enjoyed a 16 month working holiday overseas. Our travelling experiences certainly broadened our minds, and for me removed the 'blinkers' in terms of my Christian beliefs and values. This became an important factor in our Church decision.
So, what then attracted me to continue on in the Pilgrim Community?
1) The open-mindedness of people and the attitude that it's ok to question and challenge Christianity and our beliefs. In fact it's encouraged!
2) The friendly, welcoming nature of people but without feeling too overwhelmed or pressured.
3) The varied style and content of worship (no two services are ever the same!), with a number of people involved in the planning and running of the service. This was a refreshing change to my more conservative Church upbringing.
4) The strong commitment to social justice, which I had not experienced in any other Church Community.
- Why I come
I used to think that people ought to attend their local church, but when I returned to Adelaide in 1969 after living in Melbourne for three years my ideas changed. The local church was just a block away but I found it really hard going.
The evening that changed everything for me was a Women's Fellowship meeting. We were in the same age group but that was all that we had in common. The others were all married and had time to produce lovely at producing lovely things for supper).
There was a guest speaker and I really warmed to her. Afterwards we talked and she suggested that I give Pilgrim a try. It wasn't called Pilgrim then. It was Union Church in the City. Anyway, I went along next Sunday and received a warm welcome, which included an invitation to the Sunday afternoon fellowship.
That's my story. I came in desperation and stayed because I was made welcome. Now I try to make others welcome...
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