A few heartfelt thoughts on our three-year anniversary.
On June 9, 2019, we gathered in the chapel of Pilgrim Congregational Church for our first live worship experience. Over 50 people showed up (including our brother Chris White from Scotland). It was Pentecost Sunday. We set a lot of things in motion that would become standard operating procedure at Gather. We had a theme (“Firefall”). We built the service around an open and welcoming Communion table. We combined contemporary music and hymns effortlessly. We felt the power of authentic community. And (as promised) God met us.
Less than a year later, when the pandemic came along, our move into a virtual worship was effortless. We became one creative team. People who never made videos became iPhone masters. People who never sang in public joined the worship team. We sent in pictures. We read poetry. We worshiped indoors and out. We got emails from folks we’ll never meet saying how encouraged they were. God met us.
Could we hold on to our fervor and intensity? Could Gather get back on its feet as an in-person faith community and resume the work needed to live into its vision as an outreach effort in communities under stress? As COVID lifted and people returned to more complicated lives, we struggled in ways nobody saw coming. Commitments were tested. Time wasn’t as available. Novelty wore off. Two things kept us going: a faithful core that refused to give up, and a God who always showed up. And here we are three years later. Still standing. Still going. Still Gather. Waiting and watching God work.
This Sunday we celebrate three years in classic Gather style. Popping up in a backyard in Bronzeville. Gospel and hymns and a thumping house beat. Food and fellowship, anchored by an open Communion table. Coming for the worship. Staying for the dance. Enjoying faith and friends. Loving a God who constantly surprises.
In my spirit, I feel a turning point this Sunday. We’re moving into a new era of growth and outreach. The God who never fails is a God who always provides. We’re not calculating losses. We’re opening our arms to blessings. New people are coming. New energy is surging. God is about to shower down blessings we won’t be able to contain.
It’s going to rain! A super-soaker! Can you feel it? Come out this Sunday and watch God work!