Transform and Grow
As part of living the Way of Love, St. Luke’s is excited to join Episcopal congregations across the United States in a new experience called Centered: A Christian Discipleship Experience. St. Luke’s innovative program is called ‘Transform and Grow’ .
The goal is to open the door for God to work on us, in us, and through us, in powerful ways in the context of a small, intentional, dedicated group of disciples. All people, young and old, Episcopal or not, are included in this invitation, regardless of whether you attend any Sunday service, regardless if you can no longer drive, regardless if you are active in any other spiritual way.
Transform and Grow is a discipleship series guiding small gathered communities to get deeply rooted in love with God and one another, so that we all may grow to look, act, and love more like Jesus.
The experience includes nine 90-minute core sessions during which group members will gather to share a meal and grateful prayer; view two short films hosted by a diverse team of leaders from across the Episcopal Church, discuss questions about God, belonging, and living a meaningful life; and support for each other in committing to intentionally follow Jesus and his Way of Love. Each group will consist of six to eight people and will be led by a trained group facilitator.
The purpose of an intentional faith-based small group is to build trusting relationships with God and one another. When we meet each other for conversation, practice, and prayer, we learn how to love. Call it a small group, discipleship circle, neighborhood group, life group or cell gathering – whatever the name, a small group provides space for prayerful support and accountability as we seek to live the Jesus Way.
We have included the personal story of a small group member who is a member of another Episcopal parish, and how belonging to a small group transformed her life. (See House Group Musings below)
Each small group will be unique. Each will decide whether they will meet weekly, bi-weekly or monthly, and the time and place that works best for them. The place could be someone’s home, the meeting room in a care center, a restaurant, St. Luke’s or wherever they decide. The food may be as simple as a dessert or a full meal.
We invite you to Contact us for more information or to join.
House Group Musings
I’ve been in a number of House groups over the years, ranging in size from about six or seven members to 15+ members. Some have been inter-generational, while others have been mostly folks of similar ages. House groups aren’t another add-on program though. Rather they are an introduction to Christian community and a glimpse into how we can be the body of Christ with and for each other.
I was a bit reluctant to join a house group at first because I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into – was it going to be too touchy-feely for an introvert like me? But receiving an in-person invitation from someone I trusted was difficult to refuse so I gave it a try. In house group we did a study called “Expressing His Life,” which got me into scripture and reflecting on who this person Jesus was.
Although my Dad was an Episcopal priest and professor of theology and ethics at an Episcopal seminary, I was biblically illiterate. We didn’t go to church with any regularity while I was growing up, and I hadn’t even heard about vacation bible school before I began attending in my late 20’s. I got confirmed the summer before my 9th grade year when I was entering an Episcopal high school – so I’d be able to take communion and fit in with the other students there. God and faith were pretty academic topics in our household, and I hadn’t been challenged to explore either of them on a more personal level.
In house group I learned how to pray – it was helpful to be in a group context where I could observe others and get past my own hang-ups about “doing it wrong.” I was exposed to both extemporaneous prayer and to using the Book of Common Prayer in house group. In house group (and from the pulpit) we were regularly being challenged and challenging ourselves to take God seriously and to let Jesus and the Holy Spirit into our day-to-day lives.
The house groups I’ve been in have come around and supported their members through job issues and transitions, cancer journeys, miscarriages, deaths, life choices. Helping each other to discern the paths that Jesus would choose for us – it’s very difficult to do discernment in a vacuum. My house group encouraged me to go to Cursillo, which helped me gain a fuller understanding of intercessory prayer and the vastness of God’s grace in our lives.
It was in house group that I discerned my need to forgive my father, whom I had been estranged from for over a decade. (He was an Episcopal priest and professor at an Episcopal seminary, who had an affair, divorced my mother, and married the seminary student with whom he had the affair.) I had held onto my “righteous” anger for so long that I didn’t have a clue about how to give it up. That’s where house group again came through and the power of prayer became evident in my own life. At first we just prayed for me to want to want to forgive my father. I had no desire to forgive him. When that prayer worked and my desire to forgive my father began to grow, we prayed that I would forgive my father. Eventually I got to the point of forgiveness and actually forgave him. When that happened it was like a flood gate had been lifted and I was suddenly freed from the weight of my own unforgiveness. My faith grew by leaps and bounds at this point, as I felt myself moving into right relationship with each member of the Trinity.
My life changed, perhaps it would be more accurate to say that my understanding of whose life this is that I am living, changed. My whole paradigm shifted. This was and is no longer my life to live – it’s a life that is on loan to me from God himself. And Jesus accompanies me on this journey and He lives through this life I live. And the Holy Spirit guides me to return again and again to walk and talk and laugh and cry with Jesus, or to curl up in God’s lap like a little child when I am particularly drained or weak.
We invite you to Contact us for more information or to join.
Whoever you are, wherever you are in your faith journey, you are welcome in this place
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church 1884 22nd Street NW, Rochester, MN 55901
(507) 288-2469 firstname.lastname@example.org
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