Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Coming Up: Last Weekend of Halloween Outreach in Salem, MA

Update on happenings at The Gathering
October 26th, Two-Thousand Eleven in the year of our Lord.

The last four weekends we have held outreach events at The Gathering. Hundreds of people have experienced gracious words of blessing, and received interpretations to dreams. Teams of "prophets" have spoken words over them. This is Halloween in Salem. Our small church has become a major player in setting the tone of Halloween events in the city because of our location, and because of the fact that the city has graciously allowed us to use the fountain on Essex Street to help set a tone of fun and blessing.

Free Hot Cocoa has been active and serving up cups by the thousands on the weekend. Fair Trade Cocoa has been served as a message about the necessity of breaking away from slave dependent sources. We were able to serve out of biodegradable cups for the first few days, but the cost has been prohibitive for doing this throughout the whole of the season. The costs for serving free hot cocoa have increased almost four-fold since choosing the fair trade method, but we are committed to the purpose and its important message. Deep, deep thanks to Carrie Erwin and Paul Drake for making this cocoa service run smoothly. You rock like organic beans.

The Fountain Stage is now moving into its fourth week of music on the streets of Salem. Christine Cooper the Welsh Celtic Fiddle Champion, and storyteller was on the stage and performed from The Vault. She is now a favorite of some locals. Aradhna was here for a weekend concert and brought Christina worship music in Hindi, and some of the best musicianship we've seen here. Paul Duffy, Sarah Van Wyk and others brought us good music over the last few weekends on the Fountain Stage.

Dream Interpretation and Spiritual Readings were happening over the last three weekends. We saw some physical healings when people were prayed for. Gracious words of encouragement brought tears of joy to many people. Many were encouraged in their search for God and truth. This is what the heart of our investment into the Halloween season of Salem is about. It is our desire to impact as many of the 500,000 people who visit Salem in October as we can. The only way to do such a thing year after year is to make sure that Christians are embedded into the fabric of events like this, and that we learn to work with leaders of the events in ways which are beneficial to the event itself, and sensitive to the culture around us. John Harding from the Northshore Bridge Church and Carlos Zeisel from The Gathering will continue to help lead these outreach projects.

This last weekend friends will be joining us from around the US. Allen Henninger is here now from LA. Dennis Huxley is returning. More friends from Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, California, and Texas are coming as well.

College groups from Boston are joining us for outreach, and will walk the streets dressed as monks offering free blessings. The last two years, these events have greatly blessed hundreds of people. A Youth With a Mission Team has asked to work with us this year, and Pastor Phil will be training them in how to minister in unique environments like Salem, MA with large numbers of Witches and other types of Neo-Pagans.

April Alario has been attending a school of ministry at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, and will be coming home to lead all night prayer as well. If you are interested in joining the all night prayer contact us and let us know.

Please join us in prayer for this last week of outreach as we seek to serve people from Friday through Halloween Day (Monday).

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Jeff shares his experiences in Salem with us

Our new friend Jeff spoke on Sunday last week, and blessed us. This week he shares a bit of his story of the experience in Salem during Haunted Happenings and all the outreach activities of The Gathering.

"Our front door - Half a million, that’s 500,000 if you are counting – people that is, that walk by the front door of the “Vault” – a former bank that was here for 200 years and is now occupied by the “Gathering,” a local church. I say “our” because the pastor assimilates people easily into the local body of believers and extended culture of Salem – so for two weeks, it’s been home.

Home includes extended normal conversations with a gnostic quoting random literature, a local witch who comes into use our wifi and loves just hanging out, a nationally known warlock who rides into the building on a Segway, some really smart intellectuals (Boston area has highest concentration of colleges and universities in the world), and a really diverse collections of people who believe a lot of different things or nothing at all – some come for internet, some for lecto divana a form of meditation on our Scriptures – the Bible – some come for Thursday open mic night, or movie night …

… and as I mentioned 500,000 tourists walk by the door and hundreds have sat for Spiritual Readings – simply asking the Spirit of Truth from the Creator to speak to us on their behalf so we can comfort, encourage, and build them up – and hopefully they catch a glimpse of a loving God who really really Loves the people He created. By the end of the month, the Gathering will have touched the lives of several thousand people thru Spiritual Encounters and dream interpretations, hosting kids day at the park, hosting a stage with eclectic choices of artists from opera to country to a Beatles cover band, hosting an Christian band doing Indian fusion and singing about Jesus in Hindi.

Just a question, but how can you find a way to interact with the lives around you? I am not content to go into a building, sing a few praises, to simply do it again in a local house mid-week. A friend of mine bought a house in the inner city of Durham, is rehabbing it as simply a space to have a presence in the community and interact with those who live there – no other agenda but to provide love encounters – and those go both ways. She gets it. I don’t always get it, but I am growing in walking in God’s grace, practicing mercy, and loving people. God’s truths about eternal live, need for redemption from sin, live in the Spirit now, and even the consequences of avoiding God’s love are real – how we as Christians or the “Church” haven’t always been.

500,000 might not pass by your door this month, but who are the 50 or so you pass by and maybe might touch with new love this week?"

Thanks Jeff. We really appreciate you and all you've done. May God bless you in your coming travels. You are always welcome to make your home here for a few days, a few weeks, or however long.