Monday, October 25, 2010

3 weeks of Outreach and one last week to go

October is the busiest month of the year in Salem, Massachusetts.

This is also true for our little church, which is situated on the red lined Heritage Trail in downtown Salem.  In the last three weeks we have set up a stage, hosted live music from local entertainers on it, organized and ran a Children's Day event on the Salem Common, given away free hot cocoa, offered free dream interpretation and "spiritual readings," and have hosted the international photography project "Why Do You Do What You Do?"

Visitors have come from near and far to participate with us in outreach.  Included in these participants are John Harding and the gang from the North Shore Bridge Fellowship; Mark and Anthea Searle from the Cheltenham Bridge Fellowship in Cheltenham, England; The Streams Ministries internship from New London, New Hampshire; Danette Strandell (a fellow Burner)  from St Joseph's, MO: our longtime friend Dennis Huxley from Rome, New York; another fellow Burning Man outreach team member Alan Drake from Dallas, Texas; and of course the wonderful people from The Gathering.

On Saturday, October 16th we held the 15th annual Salem Halloween Children's Day.  For the last 9 years we have been in charge of it, and sponsor the day with the help of Domino's Pizza.  We organize it, promote it, and run it on the day of the event.  The event is one of the few large events in the city of Salem in October targeted to reach the children of Salem.  This year we were almost rained out.  Instead we were winded out - which meant the wind was too strong for some of our large rides to make an appearance, but we still held the costume parade, and thanks to Brian O'Maerlaigh we just had some plain old fun with the kids on the common.

Dozens, if not hundreds, of people were touched by the personal ministry of the spiritual counseling we offer for free from The Gathering, and from our location near the music stage near the Peabody Essex Museum.

Hot cocoa began its service this last weekend, and at least 1,500 free cups of hot cocoa were passed out on Saturday and Sunday thanks to the teams from The Gathering of Jeff and Kellie Gentry, Carrie Erwin, Rachel and Jonathan Meharry, Paul Drake, Elizabeth Steadman, Joyce Greer, Chris Dugan, and Linda Quadros.  (Hopefully I got everyone!)

Local musicians performed on the stage,and they included:  Paul Duffy's group from the Front Street Coffee House Open Mic Night, Via Perkins, Sarah Van Wyk, Yvan Pierre Marlier, Lily Press and her husband Simon, Black Dog Brother, The Dejas, Clay Ventre, Julian Baptista, Deb Crosby's Talent Show, and Honour Havoc.

The stories of people who were deeply touched by the personal ministry of our spiritual counseling teams came from the interns at Streams Internship, our own members at The Gathering, and our visitors like Dennis Huxley.  Dennis commented that this might have been the most significant weekend of the last 4 years of visiting he has been a part of.

Along with the Spiritual counseling we have been taking photos of people who are answering the question, "Why do you do what you do?"  This project was started by Tony Deifell at Burning Man about 7 years ago.  I met him at Burning Man this year, and asked if we could do the project in Salem during the Halloween festivities.  Thanks to photographers Deborah Twombly, and Ben Corey, we got to the artistry of WDYDWYD? this last weekend.

People who do not have a Christian background have been touched by the gentle guidance of God's Spirit.  We work hard to bring blessing to everyone whether they are Christians, or of other spiritual persuasions, or even perhaps no spiritual persuasion at all.  With the belief that God loves all people regardless of their beliefs we are attempting to show the love of Jesus without bias, and it has been having a positive effect on all who come our way.

Special thanks goes out to The Gathering members who have provided a place for people to stay, and food for the spiritual counselors.  Thank you Rennie Treantos, Joanne Joyce, Carl and Melissa Nystedt, Joyce Greer, and Jeff and Diane Menasco.

This is a short report on the activities of outreach during the last three weeks here in Salem, MA.  Your prayers, and of course, your support in even a small way help make all this possible.  If you would like know more go to The Gathering Website.  There you can make a tax-deductible donation, or find our email address and sign up for our ministry mailing list.

Monday, October 11, 2010

First Weekend of Outreach in Salem, MA

October 9-10 marked the first weekend of outreach and community service by The Gathering during this 2010 October season.

The Fountain Stage held 4 hours of music in the afternoon on both Saturday and Sunday.  Via Perkins from Salem State College was the first performer.  I met Via some months ago while she performed at Gulu-Gulu cafe, and decided we needed to get her great voice and engaging personality up on the stage.  I didn't realize that she was part of the Christian club at Salem State, and her songs were about relationship with God.  So, I was surprised by the wonderful spiritual motif of her music, and impressed by the crowd's interest.  Sarah Van Wyk is a gothic/classical/industrial music with themes on prayer and seeking God - Sarah will be back, including Halloween Night.  These are just two of the artists who played this weekend.

On Saturday afternoon John and Sabrina Harding brought a encounter team from the Bridge Church in Beverly, and they interpreted Dreams and held spiritual encounters Saturday afternoon and evening.

Mark and Anthea Searle have joined us from the Cheltenham Bridge Church in Cheltenham, England.  They shared "More Light" ministry with us, and have been holding spiritual counseling sessions with people from our church.  They have also joined us for Dream Interpretation and "Spiritual Readings." 

We have had people share dreams with snakes, or the death of loved one's, and those who shared their dreams felt encouraged, relieved, and helped toward a deeper relationship with God.

Danette Strandell joined us from Missouri Saturday Night.  Danette and her husband Tom are starting a church in St. Joseph, MO.  She led us through communion on Sunday morning, and joined us in outreach on Sunday afternoon.

Jeff MacDonald, a reporter for a Christian publication has been talking with us over the last few days, and learning about our outreach.  He has been talking with myself, Danette, Mark and Anthea, and the people we minister to.

This is the first of four weeks of outreach.  Next week we will run a Children's Halloween Festival on Saturday the 16th - Hopefully we won't be rained out.  Stay tuned for more information through the week.