Marty Kuchma, Senior Pastor
First Sunday Forums. We are due to have the first First Sunday Forum after the 10:45 service on May 6. We will gather in the Seekers Room from approximately noon until 1:30. As you are able, I would ask that, if you attend, you bring a little food to share. The kitchen refrigerators and microwave will be available as needed. Beverages will be provided.
For the past couple of weeks, I have posted that the first topic would be Money and how it is interwoven with so much of life. Well, I have been thinking about this a lot and I want to walk that back a bit. Money might be – and I suspect will be – a topic we will want to explore in this Forum. But maybe not first.
Rather than me coming up with a topic, I think it will be best if we have a chance to talk through possibilities together. So the gathering on May 6 will be a time for all present to have a say in what we will talk about in the next session. If you are unable to be there that day but want to be part of this, email me your ideas for what we might focus on in a future session.
It might be helpful if I explained a bit about what I have envisioned for this time. There are so many big issues, even “ultimate” issues that deserve more thoughtful attention than we are usually able to give them in the rush of our daily lives. And there are plenty of topics, I assume, that we would benefit from talking about with interested and interesting others. I hope that, in the Forum, we can create a space in which to have informed, facilitated conversations about things that matter, incorpo-rating some relevant study in advance, and allowing each participant and the group to go as deep on relevant topics as we can in a focused hour and a half.
As a monthly gathering on the first Sun-day of each month, we will have the opportunity to, for example, read a book, or research a topic, or ponder articles of interest to the group on a specific topic. While I would not want to “schedule” too far in advance lest we risk missing critical moments and oppor-tunities to let conversations build organically over time, we can use each month to learn as individuals and share as a group about what we decide to focus on from session to session. We might even chose to create a way of being in touch in the interim by way of email or some other electronic means.
Some examples of what this group might delve into… Money might indeed be something we choose to talk about, how it (insidiously?) drives much of the way the world works and has implica-tions for nearly every facet of life, how it is at the root of societal fractures and maybe all evil, how it can be a blessing and a curse. Is it possible that we spend too much of our lives chasing after health in ways that may not matter much in the long-run but give us illusions of control over death as our ultimate fate? And what about that? What does it mean to be vulnerable beings sus-pended somewhere between birth and death? Or are we that at all? On a different scale, how do we make sense of living on a planet that is dying? Will we, should we, could we do something to turn that tide? What matters most in life? And what role does faith play in any of it? What has the “Church” gotten right? What has it gotten wrong? What does it mean to be “us” as we have these conversations and how might other “us-es” see things differently? What about all of this us/them stuff anyway? How did we get to such deep societal divisions, and is healing even an option, and, if so, how? How can we discern what really is “true?” What should we be thinking about and doing relative to the various hashtags, #metoo, #BlackLivesMatter, #EnoughIsEnough, etc. And what does it mean to live in a hashtag-laden world? What really are American values? Carroll County values? St. Paul’s values? What else?
What big things are you thinking about that you would love to talk about with others in an intentional way?
The way I see it, we are blessed to be part of an amaz-ing congregation that collectively forms a broad base of knowledge and wisdom and encompasses an inter-esting array of perspectives that we can share in an open and thoughtful context. I want to make the most of those gifts, to the benefit of each participant, and the group, and the broader congregation, and the wid-er world.
I cordially invite you to be part of the first First Sunday Forum, and to join in this venture of talking and learn-ing together about things that matter. Let’s make this happen!
(Note that the First Sunday Forum is offered in addition to our wonderful ongoing Adult Ministries programs, Eureka! and Seekers. Those groups do extraordinary things week in and week out. First Sunday Forum will provide yet another avenue for learning and growth. Perhaps this Forum will be distinguished by a couple of factors: it will involve intentional group study in ad-vance of each session; it will allow time and be facili-tated in a way that will drill down on topics in a conver-sational format; it will intentionally include a variety of “outside” voices to spark, ground, and inform our con-versation; it is designed to be responsive to but not driven by current events; and it will be offered at a different time than the other programs, including over the Summer – with the exception of June 3, the day of the Spring Congregational Meeting.)