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Sack Lunches, Socks, and Holy Communion - Issue #84

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After Hours, a ministry of St. Andrew United Methodist Church in Denver, Colorado, is described as "church for people who don't go to church." Pastor Jerry Herships, who was a bartender and entertainer in a former career, knew that people who work late at night find it difficult to go to church on Sunday morning. So After Hours starts later than usual Sunday morning services. The gathering attracts young adults and people who work at night. After Hours meets in a mall several blocks from the church.

Worship at After Hours includes Scripture meditation, table-group discussions of the content, and an extended time of prayer. The prayer time starts with two full minutes of complete silence — a rare experience for most people in the world today. Then people go to one of several prayer stations.

There are usual stations for reflection and meditative exercises as well as one prayer station where people make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches! This active prayer is popular as people build sack lunches that are delivered to people who need food. The church started distributing fifty lunches and now distributes one hundred lunches, along with new socks and Communion, twice a week. Visits to the park to distribute lunches are building new relationships. The ministry involves students from the Wesley Foundation at the Denver University, and other congregations have joined by serving food other days of the week.

Several people come to church early to make some of the lunches before worship. Jerry says, "We started as worship with an outreach component, and now I wonder if we have become outreach with a worship component."

Some Questions for Discussion

  • Where are the "people who don't go to church" in your community?
    How might your congregation connect with these people?

  • How does your congregaton connect spiritual practices and action?

  • How does your congregation connect worship and outreach?

Betsey Heavner is the Director of Leadership for Congregational Renewal at the Discipleship Ministries. She can be reached at [email protected]. Hear the Rev. Herships describe After Hours at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VtS2HerwMqo

In 2007 church leaders throughout The United Methodist Church in the U.S. were invited to identify churches that demonstrated the vision of discipleship described in the twelfth chapter of Romans. Over 200 churches were surveyed or visited. Issue #84. © 2011 Discipleship Ministries. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to copy this page for use in United Methodist congregations.