Transcript: Planting Church At Home
On a peaceful Sunday evening in Portland, Oregon…the Lowery family is getting ready for church right here at their dining room table.
“We are having beef stroganoff that the Clarks made and brought over…”
This home used to be the parsonage for a church that closed a few years ago. It is now the home of United Methodist Revs. Eilidh and Jeff Lowery…
(Greet people at door) "Welcome!"
...and the home base of the Sellwood Faith Community – a United Methodist new church start.
The Rev. Eilidh Lowery, Pastor, Sellwood Faith Community: “You know, a lot of people think we are crazy when I explain to people that we don’t have Sunday morning worship and we’re never going to, probably. We don’t have a building. We have a house but we don’t really have a church building and we don’t plan to. They’re like ‘How, wait, what?’”
It may seem radical and new – but this way of “doing church” dates back.
The Rev. Jeff Lowery, Pastor, Sellwood Faith Community: “We looked for models of what this might look like and the best model we could find was from the second book of Acts, where the early church came together and they shared meals and fellowship and worship and cared for each other, and we thought 'How could you get a better model for starting a church than the first church?'”
These dinners, with discussion, fellowship and communion take the place of a Sunday morning service. The Sellwood Faith Community also hosts what they call gateway events such as community service projects, meditation hikes and get-togethers at coffee houses, even local pubs. They believe church can happen anywhere.
Chris Bailey, Sellwood Faith Community: “I want people to know that there are so many ways to do church.”
The Rev. Eilidh Lowery: “Sort of like when Wesley went out and preached in the fields and did the outdoor, he went to where the people were and engaged with them. That’s what we’re trying to do is go to where the people are and engage with them.”
Ace Waters, Sellwood Faith Community: “To both Christians and non-Christians, there is a very narrow picture of what church is, and church can be a lot of different things and I’m so happy that this is what it is for us.”
Everyone is welcome at this table. That resonates with life-long United Methodist Kat Milch.
Kat Milch, Sellwood Faith Community: “I have a gay daughter and I raised her in the church and she’s been really turned off by the church, by the way they are treated. And so I was going to leave and my husband said ‘Why don’t we try this church, just as an experiment.’ And right away, Eilidh and Jeff, our ministers, they let me know that this is a church that does welcome everyone.”
The Rev. Jeff Lowery: “One of our core beliefs is that you don’t have to believe any certain thing to be a part of this. And that radical kind of inclusivity is something that to me Methodism talks about--that we have different ideas about theology and faith sometimes but that we can still be in relationship with each other and talk about that and see how each person’s unique belief is positive to the whole.”
In many ways, the Lowerys feel a connection to the United Methodist church that once served the Sellwood neighborhood.
The Rev. Eilidh Lowery: “Our chairs are from that church, our coat rack is from that church, the cross and flame behind me is all from that church. When that church was closing and we were taking items from it for the new start, the last guy standing, the chair of the trustees, said ‘You know, I was so sad when this church closed and it felt like such a huge loss.’ He’ s like ‘But here you are, and this is the resurrection.’ He said ‘It doesn’t look like what was here before, but that’s the thing, resurrection doesn’t look the same.’”
This United Methodist church plant may not look the same as what was here before, but the roots haven’t changed.
The Rev. Eillidh Lowery: “That openness to sort of meet people where they are, welcoming them in where they are, and helping them learn and grow is part of who we are as a people of The United Methodist Church.”
This video was produced by United Methodist Communications in Nashville, TN.
Media contact is Fran Walsh, 615-742-5458.
This video was first posted on January 14, 2016.