Weekly Update

Giving Thanks and Wellbeing

Personal Thanksgiving Caters Community Feasts 

You must present this offering, plus the leavened flatbread, with the communal thanksgiving sacrifice of well-being.  – Leviticus 7:13

Dear Gatherers,

This time of year always finds me thinking about thankfulness and why our sacred texts insist we remain grateful in all things. Nearly always in scripture, instruction to offer thanks is explicitly tied to blessing the wider community. Leviticus literally ties personal thanksgiving to community feasts, a mindset that prevails in Early Christian practices. If we’re doing this gratitude thing correctly, what happens at our table won’t stay at the table. Sacrifices of thankfulness make the world better! I’ve put a few thoughts about how this works in a brief video. Click below to for a look.

Into the Deep

Jesus said to Simon, “Put out in the deep water…”  – Luke 5:4

This Sunday our own D’Angelo Smith takes us into the deep with a wild and wonderful fishing story. And, no, this is not about the one who got away. On the contrary, it’s about exceeding beyond our wildest imagination. But it doesn’t happen without taking some risks. Make sure you’re at our first gathering in November. It will inspire you. (And bring a bunch of friends who could probably use some inspiration too!)

POTLUCK THEME: Tailgate. Since the Bears are playing the Saints on Sunday, feels like the right time for Gather saints to show up with some tailgate fare!

“Grace and Peace to You…”

Our Thursday Gather conversations have been everything you could ask for: rich, interactive, and super-engaging as Rev. Dr. Pat Carson and Chris White open our understanding of Paul’s  correspondence with first-century Christians. The content is also timely as  a lot of the wisdom in those ancient letters applies directly to us. If you’ve not dropped in on the Thursday gatherings, there’s nothing to stop you. (You can watch in your PJs! It’s on Zoom; see below for the link.)

“Letters to a New Church” also inspired me to look at the texts more closely for parallels to where we are now in this time of transition—an exciting moment in our history that is not without its difficulties. This Sunday on YouTube we’ll look at a famous few paragraphs from Paul’s letter to Philippi, where he begins with grace and considers what it means to be in the struggle together. He has sound advice: our ability to “do all things through Christ” is predicated by our willingness to let go of things that weigh us down and wear us out. Make sure  to join us. (BTW, You can also come to YouTube Sunday worship in your PJs!)

With much love,

Pastor Tim

More People, More Love

They praised God and demonstrated God’s goodness to everyone. The Lord added daily to the community. – Acts 2:47.


What an amazing time we had on Sunday! We’ve got a new rhythm going, being faithful in weekly attendance and making the most of added opportunities to invite friends and family into Gather. Who do you know who needs to belong to a caring, ecstatically inclusive community of care? Invite them! More people mean more love to share. And, right now, given the state of the world, we need more love!


POTLUCK THEME: Roots and Fruits. Fall vegetables bring savory flavors to the table. Let’s go vegetarian this week and bring along something seasonal. (Of course, we won’t be mad if you color outside the lines and bring something meaty!)

Moving into a New Era

Peaceful and Secure


My people will live in a peaceful dwelling, in secure homes, in carefree resting places. – Isaiah 32:18


Dear Gatherers,


Since the pandemic we’ve been in “wander” mode, moving around the city—and virtual spaces, too—discerning where we can grow. When we rested in the Bronzeville-Bridgeport-Pilsen triangle, we saw interest and involvement increase noticeably. Over the past year, we’ve been praying, listening, and looking for a settled space where we could focus less on “popping up” once a month and establish a weekly worship cadence in a settled space to grow our community.


Today, I am thrilled to report we’ve found a “triangle-adjacent” worship space that meets all our needs thanks to the fine folks of Church of the Good Shepherd UCC at 5700 S. Prairie. Beginning on October 15, 2023, we’ll gather there every Sunday at 5pm—with the one exception being the last Sunday of each month, when we’ll enjoy our regular YouTube gathering. The pastor, Rev. Jesse Knox and his people are thrilled to make room for us, and we look forward to establishing a thriving relationship with them.


Gathering weekly will require deeper commitments from us. We need to make those sacrifices now so people can find us and join our community. To put it plainly, we must work on creating an “immediate family” whose first concern is realizing the Gather vision while our extraordinary “extended family” continues to enrich our community while also serving other congregations. A regular cadence will help us do this. And, thankfully, we’ve built amazing pastoral and leadership teams to reach out to various groups of folks while keeping the “home fires” burning with all their many gifts.


Finding a place of peace and security—a soul’s home where everyone can grow—is a timeless theme in scripture. It has always been crucial to creating faithful community. We celebrate this moment as a major leap forward for Gather. And we invite you to circle October 15 on your calendar now, so you can be with us to celebrate God’s work among us!


With great thankfulness and much love,

Pastor Tim

Spiritual Practices in the Park

Recently some friends and I named old hits that captured summer for us. Chicago’s “Saturday in the Park” was my choice—didn’t even have to think about it. In the summer they describe, every day is the Fourth of July, not one of parades and pompous patriotism, but rather what real community looks like. Folks of all ages and backgrounds pour into a city park to enjoy one another. “People dancing, people laughing/A man selling ice cream/Singing Italian songs.”


The coolest thing (for me, at least) is how a sun-bright vision bursts through the festivities. These folks are genuinely committed to love and justice and progress:

People talking, really smiling

A man playing guitar

And singing for us all

Will you help him change the world

Can you dig it? (Yes, I can)

I’ve been waiting such a long time for today

Slow motion riders fly the colors of the day

A bronze man still can tell stories his own way

Listen, children, all is not lost

All is not lost, oh no, no


As we move into the back half of summer, let’s give the song a fresh listen for the many spiritual practices subtly painted into its picture: dancing, laughing, singing, talking, smiling, waiting, telling stories our own way, listening, and above all else believing we can change the world. (And that’s just from the lyrics I quoted.) Sharing hopes and joys, struggles and uncertainties in faithful community is how we express our faith that all is not lost. Can you dig it? (Yes, I can!)


With much love and joy,

Pastor Tim

In Due Season: A Pride Month Reflection

Let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. – Ephesians 6:9 (KJV)

Dear Gather Family and Friends,

Recently a longtime Gatherer and I were mulling over recent setbacks to women’s and LGBTQ rights—just two of so many issues that bear watching. In the current reactionary climate, when it seems like progress that took decades to achieve is being systematically undone, discouragement mounts easily. When you are, at heart, a good person a student of Jesus who intentionally lives out his teaching caring for the least in our society is how we show love for God, it’s hard to conceive how so many folks around us are consumed with denying rights of others and depriving people of what they need. And then there are the myths and lies and suspicions that fuel such uncaring and ungodly behavior. If it only seems to get worse, what’s the point?

Doing good is a long-term commitment. As the Early Church learned, as our LGBTQ ancestors also discovered, there is always a backlash when you lay claim to freedom. The first-century Jesus Movement not only faced opposition from without; they also faced opposition from within, as their synagogues excommunicated them, and their ranks often became infiltrated with false teachers and impostors. The same can be said of the LGBTQ movement. Of course, there was steep climb to overcome systemic homophobia in the larger society. But our struggles have also been complicated by inter-community conflicts and name-calling and hierarchies of privilege. It’s enough to make anyone in the fight real tired.

As we enter Pride Month, we should listen closely Paul’s advice to the Galatians. We simply can’t get tired. We can’t give up—not as members of Jesus’s movement or as people who support equality across-the-board. Setbacks are inevitable because the world is not easily amenable to profound change. But if we stay in the fight—if we “faint not”—we shall reap a harvest for our efforts. The progress we’ve made is the fruit of our ancestors’ tireless labor. We must offer the same witness to those who come after us.

Hang in there. Hold to hope at all costs. When you feel yourself getting weary, call a friend for encouragement. This month is about Pride going forward, not just Pride of our past. Let us not be weary in well-doing.

Peace, with much love—and Happy Anniversary!
Pastor Tim

Making a Material Difference in the World

Jesus touched their eyes and said, “It will happen for you just as you have believed.” Their eyes were opened. – Matthew 9:29-30


Dear Gatherers,


This Sunday marks four years of great joy and effort to forge an innovative faith community. We have much to be grateful and proud about. We started with nothing. No sponsoring denomination, no “seed money” sources, no people, no place. Most new church plants fold in their first two years. Yet here we are. Many churches, regardless of age, are struggling to rebound from the pandemic. We never stopped growing. For all the above, we say thanks be to God! And thanks to you!


It’s a lot of work, and there’s more to do. For Gather to come fully into its own, its basic needs must be met while new capabilities get added. We’ve always walked and talked as if our needs were met and, true to the promise, they have been. Now that we’re older and bigger, we’re getting bolder. More responsibility for what’s next. And while we pursue unconventional ministry and ecstatically inclusive community life, a settled space is necessary for this work. Equipment and greater support will enable us to connect with neighboring social justice and care communities to make a material difference in the world.


Perhaps one of Gather’s biggest weaknesses is that we make it look easier than it is. This will become more evident as we move ahead. When we’re in a secure space, monthly costs will increase significantly. We’ll be asking more time from more folks. Between now and Sunday—when we come together on YouTube to celebrate four years of building something new together—let’s commit a monthly pledge or tithe that will enable this work to last. The size of the gift is not the concern; dependable and regular giving is what we need right now.


God bless you all. We’re such old souls. Sometimes we forget we’re a young family. Our prophetic gifts alert us to where God’s leading; our practical insights remind us it will take some reliable time and money commitments to get there!


Peace, with much love—and Happy Anniversary!

Pastor Tim

Marking Time

Teach us to number our days so we can have a wise heart. – Psalm 90:12


Dear Gatherers,


In just a few days we will celebrate our fourth year together as a worshipping community.  By design, we launched in 2019 (see above) on Pentecost as our immediate confidence that the promise of Acts 2—“I will pour out my Spirit on all people”—mean ALL people. And that has been our driving conviction ever since.


On my fingers, I’ve counted about 150 people who’ve come through Gather since we began. Some stayed. Many lingered for a while and moved on. (Multicultural church planting from nothing is not for everyone.) Others dropped in, nodded with approval, and kept going. During the pandemic, we had a surge of people seeking community. When the world reopened, they returned to their home churches and regular haunts. That’s the way it works. It’s how it’s supposed to work, if we use the ministry of Jesus and the Early Church as our model.


For those of us who’ve stuck it out, though, we have been constantly amazed at the creative ways God has blessed. Times haven’t always been easy. But God never failed to provide. We’ve experienced growth in ways we never envisioned and discovered so much about what it means to be an ecstatically inclusive, theologically progressive, socially committed, scripturally sound, and spiritually adventurous faith community. The lessons we’ve learned, the experiences we’ve shared have taught us well!


Now it’s time to celebrate, as we number our days together. To be fully inclusive, we’ll rejoice together virtually on Pentecost Sunday, May 28, at 5pm. We’ll revive the joy and verve we brought to our pandemic worship with three open-to-all participation offers. We invite everyone—full-time Gatherers, part-time Gatherers, sometime Gatherers, and friends of Gather—to contribute to this experience. Even if you’ve just been watching from the sidelines, we want to see you and hear from you! You’re a part of us! Scroll down to find out how to be part of the service; then plan to join us at 5pm CDT on YouTube for the premiere of our anniversary worship / party.


Peace, with much love,

Pastor Tim