Today’s post is from Jennifer Crist, Pastor Mission Developer of Communities of Hope in Harrisburg, PA.
Communities of Hope, a synodically authorized worshipping community, began as an experiment to gather those unfamiliar with church and those who haven’t been to church in a long time. From the beginning, we made an intentional decision to include advocacy in our liturgy. In exploring how to do this, we realized advocacy could be expressed in our liturgy in many ways. I want to emphasize three of these examples.
First, we practice Advocacy as offering. We often take a minute during our offering time to speak about the latest updates and action alerts from ELCA Advocacy. We have letters and computers available on site for those who want to write or take 20-30 seconds to fill out the action alerts online and send them at any point throughout our gathering.
Second, we practice Advocacy as prayer. During our prayer time, we provide paper and coloring supplies for both adults and children to creatively offer their prayers. Prompts are written on paper that relating advocacy efforts to current events. Later, we collect and share these in a variety of formats.
Third, we practice Advocacy as service. We often end our worship time with service that can include advocacy as well. During this time, we have put together refugee kits for LIRS; gathered for events in our community that promote advocacy; and organized fundraisers.
You might have noticed that I intentionally referenced that we PRACTICE Advocacy. One of my daughters studied the violin using the Suzuki method. And one of the phrases we repeated over and over throughout her years of study was, “PRACTICE MAKES EASY.” This is very different from Practice Makes Perfect. So we practice advocacy frequently to make it EASIER to live and do advocacy. Advocacy is a skill that needs to be practiced in order to make it part of our being.
Today, our first gathered missional community has now multiplied into three missional communities that all gather in public places outside of church buildings. Though these communities appear very different from one another, the expressions of these Communities of Hope are similar focusing on advocacy as a means of loving our neighbors.
Advocacy is not a topic for certain occasions or special events. We consider advocacy essential to our liturgy; part of who we are as God’s children gathered to do God’s work through us for the sake of the world.