Tuesday, December 02, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
We're just a week and half away from our Sunday evening visit with author, pastor of the Ikon community in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and Doctor of Postmodern Philosophy Pete Rollins.
So here's the deal. He will be with us at 6pm on Sunday evening at The Vault - 217 Essex Street in downtown Salem. This is our standard Sunday evening service time. We will have a smidgeon of music (that means a little bit, smidgeon is not a relative of the pidgeon), and then Pete will do the Pete thing and speak to us. Then following the service it will become a food and drink event. We call it the "Pete Rollins End of the Book Tour Party!"
We'd love to see you. It will be a great time to hang with friends, maybe meet Pete (if you're interested in that kind of thing), maybe hobnob with some seminary professors, or just learn some good stuff about the Christian faith.
Friday, November 07, 2008
We have rushed headlong into the middle of the celebration with the hope of being a blessing to all, and this year the event was as spectacular, and life-changing for people as any of the previous nine. Yes, this is our tenth Halloween in Salem.
Trainings occurred, and over 80 people were trained to learn how to treat Witches and Neo-Pagans as regular people. This is not something we as Christians do well. There were returning friends who helped interpret dreams from a biblical perspective, and offered spiritual advice to passing Halloween partiers. Others played music, or served free hot cocoa. Others still served food to those who came to be part of this massive outreach, or provide background support by setting up the outdoor stage, run the sound system, raise money to help support the event, or clean the carpets of the church.
We organized and ran a Children's Day event with the help of Domino's Pizza and had 3,000 attendees. We held a feast based upon experiences of Heaven and Hell, we ran 6 days of live music, gave away 3,000 cups of free hot cocoa (this number was down by 5,000 cups, because it was such a warm year!), counseled or interpreted dreams for thousands of people, gave 800 people an educational experience highlighting human slavery in the world today, and sent young men dressed as monks to offer free blessings to the people on the streets.
Each year this event grows. It seems to have legs of its own, and is moving faster than we can keep up with it. All these things are accomplished by a small church of about 45 people, and the friends and other churches who like to hang out with us.
The AP Press called me and asked for a phone interview this year. You can access the by following podcast of the short radio segment here.
The number of people who spoke of being touched by the gentle presence of God's blessing are beyond the scope of our ability to count. Even the simple gesture of giving a cup of free hot cocoa can illicit a generous response. One college aged young man replied, "This is the best idea I've seen out here." There are new faces visiting the church since the October outreach - locals who were significantly touched by the "spiritual readings," dream interpretation, and blessings from our wandering monks are visiting the church on Sunday now.
In the Old Testament we find the children of Israel gathering in Jerusalem for the feasts. Passover, Pentecost, and the feast of Tabernacles brought the people together into one place to worship and celebrate. This was the manner in which they gathered for "church." Today our society is running to festivals to celebrate, party, and vacation. Haunted Happenings in Salem is one of the great festivals in U.S culture. It has been our goal to "crash the party," and make our little festival within this larger festival called Haunted Happenings one of the "places to be." In a sense we are bringing church to the partying public, and offering gentle touches of God's grace. They effect has been dramatic.
After ten years of serving in Salem in this manner, hundreds of Christians from near and far gather to help us serve. Thousands of people experience the ministry outreach we offer, and now are beginning to return each year to looking specifically for us. These returning people are not necessarily Christians. They come from all walks of life, and have simply recognized that there is acceptance, love, and peacefulness in our presence. This has become our way of bringing the power of the Old Testament festival life to the city of Salem, and the people who visit us from around the world.
For those of you who have supported the large efforts of this little church financially or in prayer - thank you. You are at the base of our ability to continue in the footsteps of our gracious Savior on these cobble-stoned streets of Salem, Massachusetts.
Included below are some photos of the streets of Salem during our month long Halloween season. Notice the unbelievably warm temperature for this time of year. It is on the digital clock above the church. Then you will see the massive crowds in the street, and lastly one of our roving monks - Jeff Tang, who blessed the crowds is standing in front of our century old vault.
May God's Love Be with You,
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
You can read more on the interactions at one of my personal blogs Square No More.
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
I began my workday at 5:45am at a group home for 5-12 year olds in Beverly, MA (the city just over the bridge from Salem) It's my job to wake them up, and get them off to school (or summer camp) two days a week, and then to act as a liaison to the community and the Department of Social Services. The morning was uneventful as we woke the children up, and encouraged them through basic hygiene, cleaning their rooms, and played a few games together while attempting to teach basic lessons of life to these children who would be homeless or abused if not for the state's intervention, and the group home's involvement.
From the group home I drove to the offices of an owner of a number of local Domino's Pizza locations. He and I get together once a year to plan the logistics of an Annual Halloween Children's Day, which we sponsor as a city event on the Salem Common (a city park in the middle of town), and we made plans for the event on October 18th this year. Our concerns were the entertainment, finding a new resource for vendors, and creating some opportunities for helping under-priveleged kids experience the day for free.
After leaving the group home I ate a quick lunch at home, and arrived at our meeting place - The Vault. Carlos and Chris were working our "Sacred Space": an afternoon spiritual soul retreat open to the community inviting them into The Vault for sacred music, prayer, and meditation. Often it turns out to be a commercial for the church, as people come in and out wondering what we are about.
During the afternoon a handsome, well spoken, nomadic man in his early 40's came by for a visit. He had just rolled into to town from Maine, via North Dakota, having wintered in these very cold locations. We talked. He told his story, which included leaving home at 15, traveling for most of his life, and having been a Satanist - having all the tattoos to prove it. He opened up and shared his frustration with some of the choices he had made, and how difficult it was to get along in society. We talked philosophy. We talked theology. We made friends, and I encouraged him by letting him know that God had blessed him with a powerful gift of communication. He nearly cried at one point, and we have been seeing him pop in and out since that time.
Once again I worked at the group home in the morning helping the children in the beginning of their day. Coming from abusive backgrounds, they often exhibit destructive behavior, and we need to teach them better ways of handling themselves, and treating others.
Later that morning, I arrived at the church. I had made plans to help a local homeless man (who had just found a room to rent) get his clothing washed. This young man usually smells so bad that he is regularly asked to leave restaurants, and has even been kicked out of homeless shelters for refusing to shower. I met him at the laundromat, and we got his clothing in the washing machine, and I gave him a laundromat card with enough money to pay for the drying too. I tried to get him to put a filthy jacket he had tied around his waist into the machine, and explained the necessity of washing his clothes to keep from leaving long lasting smells from getting into the upholstery of other people's furniture, but he did not want to wash his coat. I hoped maybe I could get the jacket washed next time.
Once back at the church, a young man I have known since we first moved to Salem nine years ago came into The Vault. He wanted to talk to me about Wicca. He had been looking into this variety of Witchcraft for awhile, and wanted to get some opinions from friends. We talked for about an hour. I walked him through the history of the movement - which although it is believed by many of its followers to be ancient is in actuality only been around since the early 1950's. We talked about the differences between Christian and Wiccan beliefs, and I told him these things without ridiculing his interest in Wicca. He opened up, and shared his reservations about some of things Wiccans believed, but also related some spiritual experiences he has had, which Christians have judged as weird, or even demonic. I related stories of the early church and medieval saints which mirrored his experiences, and suggested that Christians should be pursuers of deep mystical experiences with God. He wanted to keep in regular communication about these things. I have found this young man's search for an authentic mystical experience is exhibited by many who leave the pews of the church for the woods of the contemporary Neo-Pagan experience.
After this encounter, Carlos and I visited the Chamber of Commerce. Rinus is from the Netherlands, and runs the chamber in Salem. He has been good to us. He offered to open the list of his vendors to us, so that we might be able to increase the number of vendors on our Children's Day event. This was an answer to our need for the Halloween Children's Day Event.
After going home and having dinner, Carlos and I met once again. We had been invited to Pagan Pub Crawl. Once a month some of the Witches in town gather for the Salem Pagan Pub Crawl. I usually get invited, because many of them are my friends. Carlos has been to a couple of these gatherings now, and is making friends as well. The owner of the new tattoo parlor in town was there. He is not a Witch, but he considers himself a Thelemite (you can look that one up on Wikipedia if you like). We meet a couple women from Pennsylvania who visit Salem often. We saw many friends we've known for some time. We talked about how people had become Witches after being raised as Christians, and we discussed the resurrection myths of ancient religions comparing and contrasting that to the resurrection of Christ. I suggested that Christianity perhaps did not steal the idea of resurrection, and death and rebirth from other religions, but that it might well be that the appearance of this mythology throughout many different cultures is a prophetic retelling of the story found in Jesus Christ. All in all it was a fun evening, but a long day.
As part of my job with the group home I went to a Provider's Fair at one of the many Catholic Churches in Salem. I was hosting a table for the group home among about twenty-five other tables in the room. I met other social service providers who worked with addictions, poverty income level families, and at risk children. I met some of the local DSS administrators, and made some wonderful contacts.
I offered to help with their events in the future by providing our church sound system if they needed sound. The PA at the Catholic church was not sufficient for music, but they gave it a try. I told them that we would like to set up a Provider's Fair at our Halloween Children's Day, and that I was working on getting a number of free tickets for under-privileged children. They were excited. I had my guitar with me, and allowed a woman to play my Martin (you guitar players will know that that's a big deal), and she performed. I performed a few songs as well, and made some great contacts both for the group home I represent, as well as for The Gathering and our Children's Day event. This was a second answer to our needs for Children's Day.
It was a long day at the fair, but worked out to be wonderful for new contacts in our community.
In the evening we showed a surf film at The Vault. Every Friday Night is $1 Movie Night, and we have visitors who are not a part of the church. Some of them are regulars to movie night, and we are there to make friends with them, and to allow them to feel comfortable in our space.
These three days represent a variety of things which occur both in our church location, and around the community in Salem during the weekdays. As you can see, we are involved in social action, relationship development, and sharing our faith on a regular basis. This is Salem, and we believe it is one of the most vibrant communities in the US - even in regards to how open people's hearts are for a true and deeper spirituality.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Being a good ol' Pentecostal boy (well, that is I believe that all the gifts of the Spirit are active and alive today, and I "speak in tongues"), I began to express my worship in Tongues.
I thought to myself at one point that the words seemed somewhat familiar, but being monoglot American with only a smattering of understanding in Spanish, a few short years in High School (32 years ago) trying to learn French, a familiarity with Koine (biblical Greek, which I taught many years, Prof. Carlos Z., Pastor Phil Wyman, ago, but being a dead language is not something I ever spoke), and struggling to learn Welsh I put the thought out of my head. This expression of worship lasted a couple minutes, and when it was over the Prof. Carlos Z. said to me openly in front of the group, "You were worshiping in Spanish. Did you know you were worshiping in Spanish?"
My response was, "Wow! What did I say?"
Carlos responded by telling us some of the words, and thoughts which were expressed, and then we discussed this gift of Tongues for awhile.
Now that was pretty cool, and something which I have desired to see happen for many years - Thanks God!
I suppose some might say that my subconscious harbors an understanding of Spanish, which was somehow brought out at this particular moment, but that seems as far fetched to me as believing that this gift of Tongues exists supernaturally. I'll stick with the act of God theory here.
By the way, the book pictured above was written in the 60's but is still the best read on the subject I've ever read.
Friday, May 23, 2008
Look for more info on this upcoming conference to make it your way in the next few days. Beth Maynard, Andrew DeFranza, Prof. Carlos Z., and Myself will be speaking at this event, with a number of local social project leaders on June 14th, 10am to 3pm. Hope to see you there!
Sunday, May 11, 2008
This year she spoke from 2 Kings 4:1-7. The passage about the widow of the Prophet Obadiah. Obadiah had been a rich man, but during the reign of Ahab and Jezebel hid 128 prophets of God in two caves, and fed them to keep them from being killed by Jezebel. He spent all his money, and accrued debt to care for the prophets. When he died his wife and his children were left with this debt. You can read the passage to find out how God helps his widow by sending the Prophet Elisha, and the miracle of the ongoing flow of oil which sustained her.
Adam was painting up front during the service while Bev spoke, and the result off his work is seen here.
So, that is the short version of Mother's Day at The Gathering.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
hey all, on monday, april 28th at 7 pm will sampson will be stopping by the gathering to discuss how we can pursue justice in the midst of our ordinary lives. this discussion is sure to be engaging, relatively open ended and absolutely free.
this discussion evening is a part of the two dollars a day event that is being co-hosted by boston's emergent cohort and the crossing community in downtown boston.
if you have questions about this event, please feel free to contact me directly at gentry13ATgmail.com. for more info on the two dollars a day event, check out the cohort website.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Chris' baptism reminded me, yet again, what a beautiful thing it is for God to call a person to Himself and incorporate that individual into the body of Christ.
this was a day i won't soon forget and i thought y'all would want to see the video.
Further Notes from "Jeremiah:"
Chris was baptized last Sunday. It was a wonderful moment for all of us.
Most of us at the Gathering hold to some sort of born-again experience. Just as there are many forms of our "capitulating" encounter(s) with Jesus, God presents baptism, a core sacrament in every believer's life, in many ways as a unique, individual, relational encounter with God. For me, baptism is more than just symbol, but also not a magical, protective incantation. Jesus knew we were folks trapped in space and time. Baptism provides with a "living liturgy" to remind us through the rest of our life in Jesus of His encompassing love.
Welcome to the family Chris - not just the Gathering family, but the family of the worldwide
Saturday, March 22, 2008
when the participants walked in they entered into a dim and quickly darkening space that was lit only by a trinitarian triangle of three candles. as the liturgy began i shared a few brief thoughts about the intricate relationship between intimacy and desolation** that i perceive in the gospels and then we immediately headed to the front of the church where we celebrated the institution of eucharist by sharing the sacrament together.
we shared the sacrament sinners and saints style*** and it was beautiful. as we stood around the table newly baptized Christians practiced our common priesthood for the first time; local, first-time visitors served out of town guests; and the utterly broken offered this means of grace to the utterly broken.
after eucharist everyone returned to their seats, all of which were encompassed by the trinitarian triangle of candles, and the first reader read matthew 26:36-41. after the reader spoke of Jesus' desperation for support and the disciples resultant slumber, the blew out the first candle then sat down.
immediately following five long, uninterrupted moments of silence followed. i knew that the silence would be awkward and unnerving, but i did not know that it would be so uncomfortable that i would find myself eventually staring at the second reader and inwardly pleading that she would get on with it.
eventually the second reader read matthew 26:42-43. after she had spoken of Christ's willful submission to unrelenting agony as well as the disciples' second failure, she blew out the second candle, then sat down.
five more, slightly less awkward minutes of silence followed. i tried to meditate a bit as i counted in my head to 300 and tried to work up enough courage to enact my portion of the liturgy.
finally, i stood, read matthew 26:45-46. after i read "rise, let us go. here comes my betrayer!" i asked the congregation to rise, picked up a large mirror, handed the mirror to a friend, looked in the mirror and said "here comes Christ's betrayer." then i quickly took the mirror from my friend, held it in front of her face and said "here comes Christ's betrayer." i then proceeded to stumble around the room, holding this large mirror in front of each participant and repeating this rather offensive indictment that clearly resounds through the narrative.
after each participant had faced the mirror and i faced the mirror a second time another three minutes of silence followed. then i clumsily plugged in a spotlight that shone upon a lone cross, took thirty seconds or so to gather my senses and offered a benediction.
i share my reflections on this service not to draw attention to myself, but to record one of my first attempts at developing a liturgy that draws the participants into an experience that resonates with, and hopefully reflects, the encounter recorded in the text. years ago my college preaching profs encouraged us to shape sermons that reflected the shape of the text. i have long realized the wisdom of that teaching and have often tried to fashion my logocentric sermons in such a manner that they reflect the biblical writers' flow of thought. however, it was not until last night that i realized the value of shaping a liturgy that physically, intellectually, spiritually and emotionally draws people into the narrative of the text.
i suppose i also share these reflections as a way of repenting of the derogatory and, i fear, mostly uninformed accusations i have aimed towards folks like dan kimball in the past. i have long been disinterested with the practices and thought of those who i have labeled programmatic emergents since many of the alt.worship experiences i have had have been too individualistically focused and often, in my not-so-humble estimation, trite. i am now beginning to see how potentially meaningful communal liturgical services that are shaped by the text can be. i suppose the next step is for me to explore how meaningful liturgical services can also be shaped in part by the history of Christian practice throughout the ages, but the pixie is staring at me right now and i get the feeling that i need to get off this damned computer.
one more quick note: the first sunday of the coming months, starting april 6, my friend kieren and i are going to be visiting emerging faith communities throughout the boston area. we will be reporting on our travels on this site as well as kieran's emergent wrestlings page. if you're interested in hosting kieren and i at your faith community or you know of a local boston community that you have wanted to explore but haven't yet found the time to do so, please drop me a line at email@example.com.
peace be with you throughout this holiest of holy weeks.
* take a minute and check out our new digs. it's simple, informative and infinitely more accessible than our old site. thank you rhonda and elijah!
** i.e., Jesus is baptized by john in the jordan and immediately heads to the desert; the disciples experience the wonders of the transfiguration only to be warned by Jesus on the way down the mountain that they are not to speak of their experience until after His death; peter's magnificent confession is quickly followed by Christ's denunciation, etc.
*** look the person in the eye, speak their name, offer words of orientation (the body of Christ, the bread of heaven, the blood of Christ, the cup of salvation) and then the recipient becomes the servant.
Post by Jeff G.
Monday, March 17, 2008
Monday, March 10, 2008
You'll find a link to the podcast of the show on the front page.
Check it out and let me know what you think.
Sunday, March 09, 2008
Saturday, March 08, 2008
On Friday, March 21st we celebrate Good Friday, the day in which Jesus Christ died, and was buried in the cave tomb at Golgotha. Christianity remembers this as the day of greatest spiritual darkness in human history - the day of the death of our Lord. Yet it precedes the day of greatest spiritual light and hope - the Day of Resurrection.
Join us this Easter for the celebration of the passing of darkness and the cold, and the coming of the light and the warmth.
Good Friday, March 21st 7pm - Liturgy at The Vault - 217 Essex Street, Salem
a meditation and prayerful reminder of the Day of Great Darkness
Easter Sunday, March 23rd, 10am - Joy of the Light - 217 Essex Street, Salem
a celebration of the Miracle of Light and Hope
Sunday, March 02, 2008
The fact that we practice dream interpretation believing that God still speaks to people in their dreams today like He did throughout the scriptures, and that we are from Pentecostal origins are the reason for this mention.
So we get the honorable mention in the forward. Or was it honorable? Maybe it was just a mention, but here's my response: Holy Laughter!? What's up with that? There may have been a few people at the conference who were into that, but as a church The Gathering does not practice that, and never has.
So Tony - Thanks for the mention, but we'll be expecting a minor retraction in the second printing bro. ;-)
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
This is what they asked me to consider:
"I wanted to talk about your ministry in Salem. Probably focusing on Paganism, Neo-Paganism, Witchcraft. To let out listeners realise that this still exists and understand that Witches are real people too.To understand how you can minister or talk to someone who may be into Witchcraft . To talk about your experiences with people that are in to Witchcraft."
I am told that interview will be "general and light."
If you would like to tune in to it you can do so online at http://www.premier.org.uk at 10:40am EST, or 7:40am PST for my West coast of the USA friends.
I'd love to have you check it out, and give me some feedback as well.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Saturday, January 19, 2008
If you don't live in Salem, and don't get the Gazette, the story is here. If you want to respond you can write the editor at 72 Cherry Hill Drive, Beverly, MA 01915; or you can join the online discussion on the website. The online version does not have the print version title "HERETIC OR HEALER?" That was saved for the local people I guess.
Friday, January 11, 2008
My mom (Dorothy Jenkins) has been with us for a couple months, and is headed back home Monday. Here she is with Bev serving up Cocoa.
The line was good and long for about an hour and a half as the 5,000 trees on the Christmas tree pile created a wonderful winter/New Year experience. Mike Crockett, Jim Burrell, Carlos Ziesel, Jeff Gentry, Jeff Menasco, and Kevin Menasco also were on hand to make the event happen.
As we took down the tents the fire got a little smaller, and the crowd started going home, but as you can see 5,000 trees can take a long time to burn.
Sunday, January 06, 2008
Such things as matches, coins, a stick, and a pencil, as well as papers with something written on them are here. We will leave this as it is in the middle of the room for the month to remind ourselves each week of our point of surrender.
Saturday, January 05, 2008
So, be ready to bring an item which represents something you want to give to God this year. i.e. If you felt like your heart was becoming hard, you might bring a small stone to represent how you want to give God your hardening heart, and allow Him to soften it this year. You might bring dollar bill or a coin to represent surrendering trusting Him for your finances this year, or you might bring blank piece of paper to represent allowing God to begin to use you artistically. You've got the idea I think - bring something which represents a new area of surrender/sacrifice to God. We will be placing these things in an altar pile leaving them in that pile symbolically, and giving them to God.