Wednesday, October 31, 2007

10pm and just getting to Blogging

We had three bands this evening: The Robb Taylor Band, Mamadou Diop, and Tom Conlon. We love Tom, and he was experiencing Salem on Halloween for the first time - it was tamer than he expected. Of course, now it is getting wild on the streets, and the police are moving people toward the train station, and the ending fireworks show.

Hundreds of people went through dream interpretations, "spiritual readings" (which is a form of propphetic ministry), and our confessional booth.

The sign waving folks from Repent America came by to tell uus that we aere ompromising, or getting into syncretism because we are doing Dream Interpretation - darn, someone should have told that to Daniel, and perhaps his book should be removed from the scriptures. Later in the evening, one of their crew was arrested.

Well, I have to walk toward home now, and will perhaps post some more thoughts a little later, but then again I have to be off to the airport by 5:00am to head for the Off the Map Conference in Seattle.

I love this place.

Tents Up, Streets Fillling

So, Streams Ministries interns are here. They are setting up their tents, and our buddy Allen Henninger from pasadena, CA is making sure the stage is ready for the first band which goes on at 4pm. A few of us will play a bit to start of the day of music. The streets are filling up with costumed people, and the sign carrying street preachers are out.

It's Halloween in Salem at 3:00pm.

Halloween Day Begins

I arrived at 10am, and April, who is celebrating her 7th Halloween since she first visited is as a young Witch, and then shortly after going through our "Psalm Reading Booth" became a Christian. April will be ministering with us today.

It's just before noon. The streets are not busy yet, but the vendors and the businesses are getting ready. A few groups of youth who have come in on busses are wandering around town, and waiting for thigs to really wake up. Any minute Streams ministry interns will be joining us.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Streams Ministries Interns

For the seven busiest days of our outreach here in Salem, we will see over 50,000 people pass our stage. We will give away thousands of cups of free hot cocoa, and best of all, this provides the impetus for people to stop, hang out in our area (which is the primest, of prime spots in town, and then stand in line to receive free Dream Interpretation, or Spiritual Readings in the booths which are set up.

Over the last 4 years, interns from Streams Academy School of Ministry have joined us to provide the bulk of Dream Interpretation. I train them in the skills of communicating to Neo-Pagans, and then they hit the streets for seven days of ministry. This year we have been joined by another 30 people from local Bridge Churches.

So far there have been great stories from the people serving. So here is a retelling of one story from Broi who shared her experience with us this last Sunday morning. She was doing a spiritual reading for three giirls, and felt moved to say that one of the girls would receive peaceful rest from this day on. The girl began to cry, and said that she was tormented with an inability to sleep well, and would even sleep walk at times. She had even cut herself during these times of sleepwalking. Broi spoke blessing to her, and declared that she would rest well for this day on.

The following morning the girls returned to Salem, even though they were on their way back home to tell Broi that the sleepless girl had slept so peacefully, and well that the other girls could not wake her up that morning.

This is just a small example of the thousands of interactions which we have each year.

Live Music, Free Hot Cocoa!

So, one more year we serve the streets of Salem during Haunted Happenings wth live music, and free hot cocoa. We are now doing seven days of both. The members of The Gathering are the most awesome servants of the Gracious Nazarene I know. Blessings on them all.

The Brimstone Chronicles

On Friday, October 19th we held an event we called the Brimstone Chronicles. Thsi was a new and strange event for us to host. It was sponsored in part by a group called Festival of the Dead. A friend of mine who is a Witch is the Festival of the Dead owner. He wanted to have a Christian event which spoke ot the issue of sdeath and afterlife. Christian Day (my Witch friend) asked if we would host it - we said yes. I responded by saying that our religion certianly had something valuable to say about life and death. After all, is based upon a guy who rose from the dead.

So the day of the event came. It was an interactive event comprised of "the stations of Torment and Bliss," a feast, dance, live music, readings from Dante's Inferno, and drama from the history of redemption.

We asked for people to give to the cause of helping the homeless, and in turn gave them indulgences for thiekr sins, only to have Jeff Gentry play Martin Luther and decry the evils of indulgences, thus playing out the story of the reformation, and the call to salvation by faith alone. Mike Crockett played the part of a Baptiost preacher recalling the famous sermon by Jonthan Edwards, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." Carl, Melissa, and James read portions of Dante's Inferno.

We began the evening with a funeral service, and a mirror was placed in the bottom of the casket to allow ourselves to consider our own mortality. We put people through a series of stations: They had to serve one another a apple - since like Adam and Eve, we have all eaten the apple and given the apple to others. They laid in a casket and the lid was closed, they feasted at the table of marriage super of the Lamb, they were locked in a vault to reinact the sensory deprivation of Outer Darkness, and we created a light at the end of the tunnel experience which was prepared by a real life story by Lucy Lincoln.

This was the first pay event we have held in nine years, and it was $50/person. We had turn out of Christians, Pagans, and tweeners - they all appeared to love the event. It seems that perhaps this will be a repeat.

Updates on our Halloween Events

Thus far we have held the Brimstone Chronicles, run 6 days of live music on the stage downtown, served up a couple thousand cups of free hot cocoa, hosted Streams Ministries Interns and a couple groups from nearby Bridge Fellowship Churches to do Dream Interpretation, opened our doors to our Reverse Confessionals, and held a Pagan/Christian Dialogue with Fiona Horne, Christiian Day, John Paul Jackson, and myself.

Today I will be updating blogs and e-mails about events thus far.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Children's Day - John Morehead - Prep for The Brimstone Chronicles

So this last weekend was as full as any Halloween season second weekend oin October yet. Our Annual Halloween Children's Day is getting easier and easier to run. I suppose after 5 years we've got it down. Cooking hotdogs, blowing up balloons, making crafts with the kids, sponsoring entertainment, organizing a costume parade, and keeping vendors happy is what the day entails. We had about 2,000 people who came to the event, and it was generally fun for all.

John W. Morehead joined us this week, and spoke on Sunday evening about the 10 reasons he loves Halloween as a Christian. Yep, he's jealous about not living in Salem, where our Halloween is a month long! It was a good teaching with a good follow up discussion. On Monday and Tuesday, John went around the cty, and I introduced him to my Pagan and Witch friends, and he thoroughly enjoyed it. He especially liked talking with Christian Day, and our friend Dr. Rose Wolf. Being a Sci-Fi, and Fantasy literature fan meeting Rose whose doctorate is in Sci-Fi Literature was a pleasure for John.

So, now we are getting ready for our Friday Evening event - The Brimstone Chronicles.

Some Prayer for John Armstrong

Our friend John Armstrong could use some prayer for health, and strength. Please add that to your list of things you pray for. He will not be joining us November 9-11 it turns out, and his health is the mitigating factor. We'll miss meeting him face to face, but will look forward to another day to do so. Until then - keep him in your prayers.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Halloween Children's Day - Today!

That's right. We at The Gathering sponsor a Halloween Children's Day. Dominos Pizza helps organize it with us, and we provide the volunteers. There will be a costume contest, and prizes for three age groups, free entertainment, and inflatable rides, and slides, and more.

This is the twelfth annual of this event. We took over the reigns of this event about five years ago when the Haunted Happenings committee disolved, and the day was going to be ended. So we ganged up with Dominic Benvenuti from Dominos, and kept the day alive.

10am to 5pm is the time, and it happens on the Salem Common. Hope to see you there!

Thanks to all the people from the Gathering who will be there tomorrow - Bev, Jeff, Jeff, Kellie, Diane, Kevin, Carlos, Carl, Melissa, Joanne, Stef, Mike, Elijah, Rhonda, Elizabeth, Phillip, Jim, and I know I am forgetting a few, but will remember them in the thank yous manana.

John Morehead - Sunday Evening, Oct. 14th

John Morehead will be with us this Sunday. He will be some sharing on Sunday morning during part of the the service, and teaching the Sunday evening service. John and I have been working on similar projects over the years, and he comes with a great resource of information to encourage us through the season of outreach.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Author John W. Crawford at The Gathering Sunday, Oct. 21

I received a book in the mail today. It came to me free because I wrote a few pages of the book.

John Crawford compiled a book of 100 Pastor's profiles from around the US, and including a few other countries. The Pastors were categorized by denomination, or in some cases non-denomination. Due to our unique relationship with that denominational issue, we were categorized toward the end of the book under "Special Interest Part 1." I suppose that's an accurate gauge of our situation.

The way the book worked was like this: He wrote and asked if Pastors would like to participate. Those in the book responded affirmatively. Then he sent some specific questions, and we replied. Our replies and his questions are in the book.

On Sunday evening the 21st, John Crawford will be at The Gathering to tell us more about the book, and the publishing industry, and of course to sell books.

Hey come on down - Sunday the 20th at 6pm at The Gathering.

Saturday's Training, and Sunday's Service

The Saturday training session had about 20 people (mostly from local Bridge Churches in the area). They came to learn about our outreach in Salem, and to spend the afternoon doing Dream Interpretation and Spiritual Readings. A number of people shared their paradigm shift in coming to understand that Witches and Neo-Pagans where not worshipers of Satan, and this gave them a new perspective on them as people. At 2pm we opened the doors and began to share in Dream Interpretation and Spiritual Readings. People began to come in the doors, and we had a line waiting for an opportunity to receive ministry for the next three hours. The streets of Salem were more crowded than usual for this early time of the Halloween season - perhaps the wonderfully warm weather brought them all here.

After the event we sat together and discussed the good things which occured. It included many stories of people who were touched by the event. Some from Pagan backgrounds, others who were initially antagonistic, because we were Christians, but then were pleasantly surprised by what tey discovered. A good number in the group shared of their own paradign shift which occurred in respect with how to treat Neo-Pagans, and even a few found that they were now more loving toward the gay people they encountered. Well, that was a big change, and a valuable lesson for all.

Many of them will be back in the next couple weeks.

Sunday evening Derek Myers (who is staying at our house right now) joined us. Derek pastors a Foursquare church on the Pauma Valley Indian reservation near Escondido, California. (I went to High School in Escondido.) We learned how much similarity there is in his ministry and our own. In Salem we have taken some flak for identifying with the people who live here, and ocntextualizing the Gospel. Those who minister on the reservations have had some of the same difficulties. Keep Derek and his church in your prayers. Check out his website at The Church Website.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Training Session Tomorrow

Haunted Happenings is upon us. Tomorrow, Saturday, October 6th we are holding a training time from 10am to noon. Friends from the Bridge Church will be joining us. If you would like to be part of the training time, cost per person is $10, $15/couple. For those wishing to join our outreach over October, these training times are required to be a part of our counseling tents.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Halloween Begins

2005 parade. This year the theme was The Wizard of Oz.

Over the course of October, you can keep up with the Halloween season in Salem here at The Gathering's Blog.

Tonight the Halloween Parade kicked off the Haunted Happenings Season. Each Halloween Parade for the last five years, we have used the evening to pass out flyers for the Children's Halloween Day we sponsor with Domino's Pizza. I run off 2,000 flyers, and a few of us pass them out to the people watching the parade, and then to the parade marchers as they arrive at Salem Common at the end of the parade.

Tonight Jeff M, Jeff G, Jim Burrell, and myself passed out the flyers. Jeff and Jeff followed the parade route from the church to the beginning of the parade. Jim and I covered Essex Street, and when the parade got moving, we stood on the Common and passed out flyers to the parents and kids who marched in the parade.

So here are the highlights:
1) We passed out all 2,000 flyers.
2) Jim and I saw the Mayor. I gave her a hug, and she said she would be there and that The Children's Day was her family's favorite event.
3) As Jim and I passed out flyers on the Common, two men who come every year to Salem passed out Gospel tracts in front of us.

One Gospel tract man said to me."What are you passing out? Giving glory to God tonight?"

"Well, our church is sponsoring a Children's Halloween Day next week." I replied.

"Halloween? Church? Do you think those go together?" He asked.

"Well, it does mean Holy Evening." was my comeback.

One might have expected a slight pause, but he spoke quickly, "It's the Catholic Church which calls it All Saints Eve."

I responded just as quickly, "Well, I believe in the saints, after all, I am one."

"If you studied the history of the day, you would know better." He said.

"I figure every day is holy, and at every opportunity we have a chance to redeem days as well."

Then he made some comment about knowing better, and God's judgment, and started passing out tracts in front of me.

As we passed out our flyers for a free Halloween Children's Day, and he passed out his tracts, I had to be loud and announce the Children's Day event. If I did not, people assumed I was passing out some religious literature, and wanted nothing to do with it. So I smiled and said jokingly, this is the most important information you'll get tonight, and the parents laughed and agreed. Well, I had been using that line all night before the Gospel Tract Man came, but somehow people thought it was funnier when he was around. Go figure. Maybe they'll see churches aren't afraid of Halloween, or scared to do something for their kids around the season, and it will change their minds about Jesus' followers just a little - then maybe that flyer is the most important thing they'll get tonight. Who knows.