Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Join us in Prayer, Service and Giving this October

Here in Salem Massachusetts the coming months are our most active. With the onset of a revival in alternative spirituality, and the increased commercial success of the Halloween holiday Salem has become perhaps the world's most visited place for people interested in the occult and Witchcraft. This fact also places our small Christian church front and center in providing guidance to spiritual seekers in this new age of postmodern spirituality.

Our location on the Heritage Trial - the red line running through Salem's downtown, ensures that most of the million people who visit Salem each year walk by our front doors. While the tourism increases from the beginning of the summer, and peaks throughout October our location becomes more dynamic as an outreach center. This is why we are here - to touch our world with grace as it searches for meaning.

Our mission has expanded each year, and we now minister to thousands of people. Of course the cost of maintaining this ministry is significant, but our small group has done remarkable things in the ten years of ministry in Salem. We have accomplished outreach goals unheard of for churches much larger.

Below are highlights of our halloween events are discussed below in this YouTube clip:

People from all over the US, Canada, and even the UK have been participants in the our outreach programs. We have become a small church with a global impact.

Christians from across the globe come to learn new ways of impacting our rapidly changing society, and visitors from around the globe stop in to experience God in ways they have never before known.

Of course this comes with a great price. Time, energy, and money are sacrificed year after year by our small and committed group who hold fast to the belief that there is a God Who cares for all people, and wants to touch them with His love.

This is the time of year when the outreach expands beyond the capacity for us to carry by ourselves: a Children's Day with 2,000 to 3,000 locals in attendance, a stage with 10 days of live music, ministry tents with free spiritual counseling touching thousands of people who will stand in line, free hot cocoa to chilly visitors, and lessons with dramatic social commentary are all part of our upcoming Fall Outreach. In terms of time, energy and money we are stretched beyond ourselves.

And so it is at this time that we reach out to our friends and ask for your prayer, your consideration to join us in these labors of love during the month of October, and in financial support. Our small faithful group continues to hold a unique and significant place of prominence in a time, and in a place often thought to be devoid of Christian influence, and thousands of Christians and non-Christians from outside our four walls are influenced for the better by our outreach.

Like most of our nation during this current season, we too have been crunched by the financially challenging times. Your prayer, your words of support, the rolling up of your sleeves for those who can join us this October, and your generous giving continue to be the things which get us over the hump each year.

Will you join us in concern for our world, which passes by our doors in these coming months?

If you would like to be part of this October's Prayer Team simply e-mail me at pastorphil (at) request to be added to the list.

If you would like to join us in October as we touch the world, which comes to our door, you can e-mail me at pastorphil (at) asking for more information about joining the outreach this Fall.

If you would like to give toward this grand project and help fund these endeavors you can go to our website at and click on the make a donation button to reach the secure Paypal giving page.

May the Lord be Your Peace and Your Strength. Thank you for being part of our strength in Him.

Gwyn Eich Byd (A Welsh Blessing),
Pastor Phil

Last Night at Pub Theology

Slade, Matt the Pirate and Mary the Goth Theologian, James (who had the ultimate statement on entropic spirituality for the evening), Mary the posh bathroom model/salesperson, Tom the chess-king, Elizabeth the violist who keeps us on track, The Prof. Carlos Z. who is heading to Spain tomorrow with 15 students for three months , and myself were the crew for Pub Theology last night.

We started by asking whether our philosophies dictated our actions, or whether it is possible that our experiences and actions informed and transformed our philosophies and theology. Of course, the answer was yes, but to varying degrees with each person. The discussion then migrated to the subject of entropy - I gave the 2nd law of thermodynamics definition of it, to which Slade my fellow anarchist (a title I only half jokingly apply to myself, but that's another long post to be sure, and it is tied to the idea of Christian Freedom, and the activities of God) added his retort on increasing disorder. This then moved to a discussion of spiritual entropy. James kicked this off by stating that unless we worked on serving others spiritual entropy was inevitable. I asked if he would either like to share that at church, or if I could steal it. I prefer the former.

James asked us why we were Christians at one point. That was a rather cool exchange. So often that discussion can be rather canned, but in a Pub it takes on a new life. We were loud, we were animated, we had fun, and we hung out for about 2 and a half hours - Nice.

Pub Theology with The Gathering occurs once a month on the last Tuesday of the month at The Old Spot in Salem.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

10 Years of Service in Salem, MA

As of June this year we began celebrating our 10th year living and ministering in Salem, Massachusetts. It has been a wild adventure at times, and we are thankful to the people who have blessed us during this season. The following is a press release which has been sent out, and we would love to have you join us as we do celebration 2.0 on Sunday, July 26th. (We will be doing a celebration in honor of some various aspect of our community life once a month for a number of months.)

The Gathering: Celebrating 10 Years of Service in Salem

On July 26th at 10am The Gathering will be celebrating 10 years of service in the community of Salem. The celebration will occur at the church's 10am Sunday service at The Vault - 217 Essex Street in Salem.

The Gathering began in the summer of 1999 with two families from Southern California. From the first year this new church had established itself as an organization dedicated to serving the city of Salem.

In their first October, they provided free live music on the streets of Salem, began to give away free hot cocoa, and offered free spiritual counsel to visitors and locals alike.

From this simple beginning the outreach of The Gathering has grown to include 40 to 50 hours of live music at The Fountain stage on Essex Street each October, organizing and sponsoring the Annual Salem Halloween Children's Day on the Common, serving up to 10,000 cups of free hot cocoa each October, offering free dream interpretation and spiritual counsel to thousands each year, painting children's faces during the city's 4th of July celebration, serving the crowds during the Christmas Tree Burning each January, supplying sound for community events, and collecting and distributing warm clothing to those in need each winter.

The story of this service has appeared on the front page of The Wall Street Journal, the Dallas Morning News, on syndicated radio programs, and across the nation and in the Caribbean in local newspapers.

Pastor Phil Wyman has estimated that The Gathering has contributed $750,000 to the city of Salem and its visitors in the last 10 years in donations, and volunteer labor. "I have been a pastor for 24 years, and I am constantly amazed by the dedication of our church members and the constant hospitality we have extended through them and through our extended Gathering family far and near in service to our community." says Pastor Phil.

The celebration will relive the stories of this service to the community. For more information, you can call The Gathering at 978-744-8444, or e-mail at

Monday, July 06, 2009

Face Painting on the Fourth of July

For the last 5 years (I think) The Gathering has been painting faces for free for the children of Salem on the 4th of July. Down on Derby Wharf during the day, before the fireworks happen there is a kids fair, asnd we paint faces. Fortunately there are some of us (well, "us" in not an accurate term, because I am not one of the "us") who are professional artists. Jeff, Brian, Kay, and Adam were our professionals this year. A high school girl from Ipswich named Rea spontaneously joined us this year, and she was good too.

Below are pictures from the day. Thanks to all who helped out: Jeff M, Jeff G, Carlos, Jodi, Brian, Diane, Mike, Kay, Adam, and Rea. They made a great team. As you can tell by the pictures below there were quite a few faces wanting to be painted. The size of the line is not at its peak, and it looked like this non-stop for 3 and a half hours.

Free is just too good to pass up.