Blessings Abound

Archive for all-ages worship

Blessings Abound

A Blog post by Casey Cross, a Messy Church USA  Board of Director

Casey serves as Young Disciples Director at Hope Lutheran Church in Eagle, ID. She leads a team for their Messy Church. 

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Like many congregations, we offer backpack blessings at the beginning of each new school year. This year, as I was talking to my pastor about what those would look like, he offered an idea that we could write blessings for each other. The idea quickly evolved from there and we decided to hand out tags on which we would write a word, prayer, blessing, or thought, return them at the offering, then take a new tag on our way out at the end of worship.

This shared activity is especially meaningful because we are living in a time where we are overwhelmed with the countless ways we are different and divided from one another. With more and more statistics and articles written about the Lonely Generation, American’s declining trust, rising suicide rates, and unfortunately even more cultural realities exemplifying our disconnection from one another, we need to respond as a church – the Body of Christ – together.

We need to practice and model trust, not only in our God, but also in one another. Our support for one another, practicing forgiveness, grace, and simply just paying attention to one another becomes counter-cultural, world-changing action. With simple exercises like the blessings we shared today, we put our skin in the game. We are in this together. And we walked from worship with signs of God’s transformation in our lives, to serve as reminders of our connection to one another and God’s love wherever we go.

Blessing Basket at Hope Lutheran Church

All ages were part of this activity. The tags filled with art, color, prayers, and words from our children were especially thoughtful. I was deeply blessed by the opportunity to read many of the tags before they were dispersed at the end of the service. What a lovely insight into the hearts of our congregation members.

Another reason an activity like this is so important is because when we get caught up in the day-to-day of our lives, it can be easy to relax into consumer-mode. Show up, get filled, feel good, check it off your to do list, and move to the next thing. When this happens, we forget that God is actively involved in our lives. But Wisdom is living within us, speaking to us, moving us, and living through us. We do not worship just for ourselves, but with and for each other. We matter to each other and we have something to share with each other. These blessings gave us an opportunity to remember this and experience it.

I know this exercise may not have meant much to some of the people in attendance. Some may have worried they didn’t have the “right” words, some may have not understood what it was for, and some may have just thought it was meaningless. It’s okay. That’s what grace is all about. It doesn’t stop what God has done and is doing in our lives together.

I am thankful for a congregation and pastor who tries new things. These ideas don’t always go smoothly. They aren’t perfect. But we try stuff. We are in it, together. No matter what, that is what we are living together. The details may fade away in time, but we will never forget that we are God’s beloved children, we are not alone, we have each other… wherever we go.

Blessings Abound
Hope Lutheran Church

In the words of our congregational mission statement – we love, we experience, and we discover God and God’s will in the world.

Reprinted with permission from blog of Casey Cross.  You can follow Casey at https://caseykcross.wordpress.com.

Messy Church USA logo and mission
Equipping Messy Churches to start, sustain and connect across the USA

Say Hello to two new Regional Coordinators

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Introducing Jenna Reinke 
Please welcome Jenna Reinke of Crowley, Texas to our Messy Church USA Regional Coordinator Network.  Her region is Central Texas and Oklahoma. Jenna was the impetus to start a Messy Church at Crowley United Methodist Church (UMC) where she serves as the Youth and Family Ministries Director. Their Messy Church launched in January of 2018 after she visited a Messy Church and fully researched starting a Messy Church at Crowley.

Jenna recently started 3 fresh expressions of ministry (2 in addition to Messy Church) at Crowley UMC. In addition to her local church work she serves on the youth advisory committee for their regional conference of the UMC. She is looking forward to sharing with others what she is learning about best practices of Messy Church. She is working with her Annual Conference to host a Messy Church training in central Texas in the spring of 2020.

Jenna is our second Regional Coordinator for the ‘big’ state of Texas. Kate Cross, of Houston, previous RC for the entire state will now serve as the RC for “Gulf Coast Texas” and Jenna will cover “Central Texas and Oklahoma”. Please give Jenna a welcome at her new email address of Jenna@messychurchusa.org.

Welcome Jenna Reinke!

Introducing Rev. Dr. A. Michele Somerville
At Messy Church USA we have been praying for a  Regional Coordiantor (RC) for the state of Pennsylvania (PA) for over a year since our our first RC for PA left the position to explore a new ministry setting.  So it is an answer to prayer that we welcome Rev. Dr. A. Michele Somerville of East Canton United Methodist Church (UMC) to her new role! After prayer and discernment, Michele has said yes to be the RC for the great state of Pennsylvania!

Michele has served under appointment in the UMC for over twenty years. Her second career has pastor has brought her joy to her life! Even when she officially retired in 2018, she has continued to work part-time serving two churches. She was introduced to Messy Church through a friend and realized that it would fit well within the context of one of the churches she serves in East Canton. They began their Messy Church in November 2018.

Michele began a ministry of Biblical Storytelling in 2008 and she enjoys writing and performing monologues and scripture by heart. She received her D.MIN in Transformational Leadership and Prophetic Preaching exploring Biblical Storytelling in the local church.

She writes that she “loves working with the Messy Church leadership team in Canton and telling anyone who will listen about Messy Church!” Although much of her previous ministry has been focused on adult bible study she was drawn to Messy Church due to the intergenerational component. Say hi to Michele at A.michele@messychurchusa.org. 

Welcome Michele!
Messy Church USA logo and mission
Equipping Messy Churches to start, sustain and connect across the USA

September News

Celebrate the Mess, Regional Coordinator of the Month and Welcome New Members to the Messy Church USA Network 

Celebrate the Mess!
Equipping Messy Churches in the USA to Start, Sustain and Connect

Mark your calendar for October 22-24, 2020 when we will gather in the greater Chicago area to Celebrate the Mess! We are happy to announce that Lucy Moore and Stephen Fischbacher will be two of our plenary speakers/ musicians! There will be more!  

The members of the planning team for the 2020 Messy Church USA Conference are:  

  • Overall Lead: Roberta Egli and Casey Cross
  • Workshops: Marty Drake and Leyla Wagner
  • Finance: Lynn Egli
  • Messy Church Experience: Maureen Carey-Back
  • Hospitality/Local Logistics: Ronda Bower
  • Publicity: Robin Canon
  • Multimedia/Technology: Andrew Scanlan-Holmes
  • Messy Extras: Johannah Myers

All of these fantastic team members are recruiting for their teams so if you would like to get involved contact them at (firstname)@messychurchusa.org. Look for more details and registration coming soon.

Ronda Bower, Northern Illinois/Wisconsin Regional Coordinator

Messy Church USA Regional Coordinator of the Month

Ronda Bower is our Regional Coordinator for Northern Illinois and Wisconsin. She is the Pastoral Associate for Family and Educational Ministries at Northfield Community Church in Northfield IL.

We are excited to use the beautiful campus of her church for our 2020 Celebrate the Mess Conference. I have firsthand experience of how beloved Ronda is at her church! In my short visit with Northfield Community in August, people kept coming up to me sharing how Ronda makes such a difference in her church. Whether it was about her Sunday morning adult education class or her leadership of the vibrant Messy Church team, Ronda is appreciated for her multiple gifts. THANK YOU, RONDA!

Do you know your Regional Coordinator?  Here they are…contact them at (firstname@messychurchusa.org) (Hint- there will be two more announced soon!) 

California/Hawaii/Southwest – Marty Drake and Leyla Wagner

Chicago/Northern Illinois and Wisconsin – Ronda Bower

Colorado/Kansas/Oklahoma/Nebraska – Janeen Hill

Indiana –Andrew Scanlan-Holmes

Michigan – Missy Harrison

New Mexico – Barb Tegtmeier

New York and New Jersey – Julie Hintz

North & South Dakota/Minnesota/Montana/Wyoming – Sandee Prouty-Cole

Ohio –Robin Cannon

Oregon (& other areas not listed) –Roberta Egli

North and South Carolina –Johannah Myers

Southern IL/Missouri – Jillian Mayer

Texas –Kate Cross

Virginia –Cindy Banek

Washington – Crystal Goetz

Is God calling you to spread the word about Messy Church? We will be announcing two additional RC soon but we still need more! Our current high priority areas for new Regional Coordinators include Florida, and the mid-Atlantic states. Contact Roberta if you are interested.

Welcome to the Messy Church USA Network

In August we welcomed eleven new Messy Churches to our Network!  We also had one renewal!  Take a moment to give God thanks and say a prayer of blessings for the teams who are bringing Messy Church to their local communities! 

August 2019 Messy Church USA Network Memberships 

New Supporter Members

  • Marshall United Methodist, Marshall, MI
  • Epworth United Methodist, Concord, NC
  • Christ our Shepherd Evangelical Lutheran Church, Peachtree City, GA
  • The Church of Agape Outpost, Breckinridge, CO
  • East Canton United Methodist, Canton, PA
  • First United Methodist,  Michigan City, IN

New Registered Members 

  •  Community of Christ, Glendale, AZ
  • Winamac United Methodist, Winamac, IN
  • Macedonia United Methodist, White Post, VA
  • First United Methodist, Comanche, TX
  • St James United Methodist, Marriottsville, MD

Renewal Registered Member

  • St Andrews On-the-Sound, Wilmington, NC
Messy Church USA logo and mission
Equipping Messy Churches to start, sustain and connect across the USA

News from the UK

Transitions can be Messy, our September 2019 focus brings us some transitions occurring with the Messy Church team across the pond.  Lucy Moore, founder of Messy Church, recently shared in the Messy Church newsletter that the start of September brought a new team member! Grace and peace, Roberta

From Lucy: Our big happy news is the arrival of Dave Martin to the Messy Church team at BRF. We’re really looking forward to working together and discovering which of Dave’s many gifts and passions can be deployed to bless the Messy network. As you can tell from his message below, he’s averagely excited about the role and we are investing in an extra stock of exclamation marks to cover us for the years ahead.

Dave Martin, Lucy Moore and Jane Leadbetter! What a team!

From Dave: Hello Messy Church family! I’m Dave, and I’m so excited to meet, serve and minister alongside you all!

I have an absolute passion for connecting people to Jesus and a real desire for churches to flourish as intergenerational faith communities, where all age groups lead each other on towards Christ – while embracing and celebrating the messiness of life!

As well as receiving the wonderful invitation to join the Messy Church team, I recently asked my girlfriend to marry me, so am currently anticipating a winter wedding to my beautiful fiancée, Rebecca.

For the last three years I have been operating as the children’s, youth and families minister at a church in Radlett, around the north-London area. There, I have been involved in leading our Messy Church forward and starting a sister project, called Messy Café, which God has used to give so much life to our Messy Church community, growing it from 20 people a month to between 60 and 100 every week. It’s been quite an adventure – I’d love to tell you all about it!

Other than that, I wear funky socks, enjoy playing synthesizers in my spare time and love a good baked Camembert.

Really looking forward to meeting each of you individually in due course. God bless!

Messy Dave

Join me in giving Dave a big USA welcome to his important work with the Messy Church BRF team!  Grace and Peace, Roberta 

Thank you God for the work of Lucy, Jane and Dave as well as all of the BRF team who generously share their time, resources and passion with the global Messy Church moment.  Bless their work! 

Messy Church USA logo and mission
Equipping Messy Churches to start, sustain and connect across the USA

Messy Transitions can lead to Messy Training

A blogpost from Roberta J Egli 

Transitions can be Messy is our September 2019 focus at Messy Church USA. At our home we have had some messy transitions the past few months. We have a seventeen-week-old Springer Spaniel named Jack who became part of our family at nine weeks of age in July. He has grown from eleven pounds to a whopping 23 pounds! Jack is our first puppy and we are loving his boundless joy and enthusiasm…. except for the two evening hours that Lynn, my husband has named “Jack’s bewitching time”. It is like he has so much energy that he is now sure how to contain it any longer.

Throughout the summer, he could run outside during these two hours and get some of his energy out but the rains have come this week that cramps his style. Thankfully, we have a wonderful trainer who is working with us to help Jack be a happy, healthy and trained dog!

Jack’s first rain experience… a bit confused!

Having an experienced person share ideas, simple gestures and encouragement as we practice with Jack has made this puppy transition much happier. It reminds me when we learn new skills, that having support and encouragement is vital. We are so happy that so many people are coming together to learn about Messy Church in our “Getting Started” training.

In the seven trainings scheduled between August and the end of October, Messy Church USA will encourage over 220 people! WOW! We expect more people to sign up in the days to come but I give God thanks for the tremendous response we have already received. Will you join me in saying a prayer of thanks and also a prayer for each of the individuals and team who will be attending training over the next few months.

May your messy transitions be filled with joy!

Roberta

Quotes from Michigan City, IN Training

The Messy Church training not only provides the theory behind this unique and highly effectively form of church, but it also provides concrete ways to put the concepts into practice. Through large-group teaching to table interactions to hands-on experiential learning, participants gained the confidence to create a Messy Church opportunity back home.
Associate Director of Church Development
Indiana United Methodist Church Annual Conference

My team is inspired and encouraged. We are very excited to meet and work out all the details for starting our own Messy Church here in Michigan City, and I can only imagine that others left feeling as excited and inspired as we are. Thank you again for such a wonderful experience!
Trish Johnsen, Michigan City First United Methodist Church

From Feedback Forms
What helped you learn the most?
•Great overview of the concept- really had a great time and learned a lot
• The discussion with my team after the presentation. Walking through the Mini Messy Church
• The mini experience helped me see the movement of the structure
• The community. In our area Messy Church is non-existent and foreign. It was so nice to see other churches following the model and being able to network.
• Great deal of information and suggestions for starting off on a new idea
• Opening- explaining what (Messy Church) is, but the activities part brought it to life

September 21st in Mt Dora, FL
September 21st in Hartford, CT 
September 28th in Newport, NH
October 5th, in Cheney, WA (Near Spokane)
October 12th in Huntington Beach, CA 

Would you like to schedule a training in your area?  We are always looking for host churches! Contact Roberta if you are interested. 

A Little Chat with Rev. George Hooper

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A Blogpost from Lindsey Goodyear

One of the greatest gifts we receive from Messy Church is the gift of community. But, what absolutely enables that gift is the dedication, commitment, and love that the Messy Church team puts into each affair. When Messy Church was established at Community United Methodist Church in Huntington Beach (CUMCHB) the church was being led by Rev. Ginny Wheeler. Ginny was there from the beginning and was a strong supporter of our Messy adventure. When she decided to retire, earlier this Summer, it left me wondering if the support of this venture, that we previously had, would remain as strong with our next holy leader. Well, I didn’t have to wonder long. Enter, the fantastically enthusiastic…Pastor George Hooper!

Lindsey: Before coming to CUMC, which church were you leading?

George: I was serving as the lead pastor at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Arcadia. Like CUMCHB, CGS has an outstanding Children’s Center with a wonderful reputation in the community, and a history of powerful ministries with children. We had not started Messy Church, but I was privileged to engage the children and their parents in chapel time during the week.

Rev. George Hooper
1st Sunday at Community United Methodist Church Huntington Beach

Lindsey: Had you ever heard of Messy Church before coming here?

George: I had. I believe that we hosted an event in Arcadia where some who were involved with Messy Church made a presentation. When the Associate Pastor (the Rev. Lydia Sohn, now pastor at St Mark UMC in San Diego) started an afternoon experience, Messy Church was one of the styles we considered.

Lindsey: Having been established for almost 6 years now, we can be kind of a tight knit team. Any nerves entering in the first Messy gathering?
George: When I had my initial meeting with representatives of the CUMCHB congregation, one of the first questions was “Will you support Messy Church?” I asked, “Well, what does support look like to you?”
They shared that there was a strong leadership team, but what they needed was continued encouragement, prayer, and participation. They explained that Pastor Ginny was like a cheerleader who was also worked well behind the scenes to make sure that Messy Church was given priority and funding through the existing congregation. I thought, and said, “That I can do!” To have an existing gathering which is well-organized and led is a gift to a new pastor. So I was excited to attend that first evening — which was the Summer Picnic. I brought my kids, introduced myself, and joined the circle. Keep in mind that I had been on staff and on site for two weeks; this was a time to just be, and to play! I loved it! So, yes, I was a little nervous, because it was a new thing. I got over that as soon as I sat down and started playing Giant Jenga.

iStock. Giant Jenga

Lindsey: You have two pretty amazing kids. What were their feelings about Messy Church?

George: They love to play, to create, to learn, and to have fun. They feel like this was made for them. “Is it Messy Church yet?” is a question I am already getting.

Lindsey: In Sunday church, you lead us, at Messy Church, you’re led by others. Was the shift a little hard to navigate?

George: Messy Church is the way church is supposed to be. I like to say that I am the pastor, the people of the congregation are the ministers. My job, along with the church staff, is to train, equip, and support the people in ministry. One of my proudest achievements in Arcadia was to help create a culture in which people in the church could say “I would like to try this” (for example a Conversational English Class) and my job was to arrange the resources they needed to do that. In John 14:12 Jesus says “Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the work that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these…” Jesus knew that even He was limited and wanted to bring others — everyone — into ministry and leadership.
On Sunday mornings (and in other events in the course of the week) I participate in leadership to prepare people to live out their faith in their daily life. At Messy Church I get to be led by others. I particularly enjoy getting to see what the youngest among us create: it allows me to see through new eyes!

The way it is shaping up, it looks like I will do a little hosting, and then fall back to observe, learn, and be led. I also love the fact that if someone has a question or an issue they want to reflect upon, we can sit down together and just talk. That’s another way I get led at Messy Church.

Lindsey: What are the benefits you see families getting from MC that may differ from what they’re getting at traditional Sunday church?

George: Getting to worship as a family unit. Allowing younger folks to guide older folks. Being able to learn through doing. Being self-directed in learning — going to what interests me in this moment. Don’t get me wrong: My kids like Sunday morning, too. They enjoy more formal worship and especially Sunday School. Messy Church adds another way of existing as family. The greatest benefit is having all of these options!

Lindsey: In between getting to know our members, were you able to participate in any of the activities?

George: I was all over the games in July! As much as I wanted to, I didn’t climb the water slide in August (there’s always next year!) I went through and looked at all of the hands-on learning stations, but I was having more fun watching what others were making than actually doing so myself. And yes, I did get drawn into some wonderful conversations — I think that counts as activities though, too. I am blown away by the creativity and imagination of the Messy Church team. You all put in a great deal of time and energy!

Lindsey: Is there a moment/craft/song that really struck you or sticks out in any way?

George: The prayer parachute. I am not sure if that what you called it, but lifting needs and joys, and then inviting the smaller people to run underneath as the parachute came back down was an incredibly powerful image of being literally “covered in prayer”.

Parachute Prayer
CUMCHB Messy Church

Lindsey: What do see or hope for when thinking about the future of Messy Church at CUMC?

George: We all have hopes for success that are measured in numbers. I love that I hear families saying they attend because “it is the closest thing we have to church.” For them Messy Church is family, a community in which they learn and grow together, without all of that “churchiness.” They are asking that this community pledge to support them as they raise their child in the love of Jesus. I hope for more of that. I hope that the ideals and practices of Messy Church become contagious throughout the congregation. Mostly, I look forward to seeing what God is doing next!

Lindsey Goodyear
lindseygoodyear@gmail.com
Equipping Messy Churches in the USA to Start, Sustain and Connect

September…Transitions can be Messy!

A blogpost from Roberta J. Egli

My personal Facebook page has been filled with pictures of children and teachers starting another year of school. I love the smiling faces that show both excitement and some nervousness. I chuckled at a friend who shared a picture of his briefcase filled with his plans for a brand-new course he is teaching at his university. How do you experience times of transition? Are you filled with anxiety or delight or perhaps a little of both? Transitions can be a bit messy!

iStock. Used with Permission

This September we are sharing stories of transition. Stories of unexpected surprises as well as stories of preparing for an anticipated change. Lindsey Goodyear blogs about her Rev. George Hooper, who became pastor on July 1st of her church in Huntington Beach, CA. Their previous pastor had been instrumental in building excitement for their Messy Church Start over five years ago. How would their Messy Church transition to a new Pastor?

In news from across the pond, Dave Martin joined the dynamic team of Lucy Moore and Jane Leadbetter at Messy Church/BRF on September 1st. What kind of creative ideas will come from this transition? I imagine that there will be even more great resources from Messy Church/BRF.

Preparing for something new is what our “Getting Started in Messy Church” training is all about! This month there are three new opportunities for training. Read what others have to say about how this training has helped them get ready to start their own Messy Church. Our mission as an organization is to equip Messy Churches to start, sustain and connect which occurs through conversations and presentations at our trainings!

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We are transitioning into full gear as we plan for the Celebrate the Mess Conference in October 2020. At our first planning meeting for the upcoming Messy Church USA 2020 national conference, the team shared of their involvement with Messy Church over the past six years. A common thread I heard as people introduced themselves to each other was how when they first became involved with Messy Church, they would not have predicted how their lives would change. Messy Church had changed the way people approached their ministry setting and for some on the team, had changed their vocational lives!

Living into transition is an opportunity to open ourselves to the leading of Spirit of God. Where will God lead you in your Messy Church this coming year? Where is God calling you to say ‘yes’? Where does your team find joy in your Messy Church? What continues to challenge you as a team? We would love to hear from you as you transition into this new school year and church life year at your Messy Church!

May you find grace and peace in all of your transitions,

Roberta

 

Equipping Messy Churches in the USA to Start, Sustain and Connect

Messy Memories, Part II

A blog post by Crystal Goetz, Messy Church USA Regional Coordinator for Washington

Messy Memories Part I Blog 

 

Crystal with Australian New Friends from MCIC 2019

Since I have returned from the Messy Church International conference, I have had many people ask me, “How was it? “. At first, I struggled to summarize how it was. There were too many adjectives floating around that I could throw out. How could I compact them down into one short phrase? Then, it hit me. I could only respond in one way. My answer will always be, “It was the Kingdom of Heaven on earth”. For most of my religious life, I have always pictured the Kingdom as a place where everyone does what Jesus’ taught us and everyone is valuable, that everyone is equal in the eyes of God and joy, limitless, unbounded joy resides. This is what I experienced at the Messy Church conference at every moment of every day. Through the experiences, the people, the devotions, the inspirational speakers and through the power of the Holy Spirit, we Messy Church people were amazing together. During the Holy Habits talk by Andrew Roberts he asked us to focus on the scripture from Acts 2: 42-47

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. 

He asked us to choose a word from the scripture that jumped out to us and, for me, there was only one choice: together.

I stock. used with permission

Messy Church is all about discipleship and we can’t really be or create disciples without others to lean on, learn from and move forward with. There we were in the beautiful English countryside together. We came from all over the planet and spoke many languages and yet, we were all of a like mind and spirit. We were and still are people of the Mess and people of the church together. We laughed together, played together, sang together, listened together and collaborated together. We learned, we can do this Messy Church thing better…together.


In looking back and reviewing my photos and my memories, I could see how happy we were in that place and time. Carrying that back with me to the state of Washington in the United States of America, that message of together is more important than ever. I strive each day to find the Messy Kingdom here too. A message of inclusion, equality, joyfulness, and discipleship that can transform the world. I have a firm desire to recreate that Kingdom spirit that we found at MCIC19 in my own Messy Church and to fulfill the Gospel message of loving God, neighbor and self. It is a commitment that I will dedicate my ministry to. I am a person of the church, the Messy Church and I am proud of my Messy heritage.

I hold my Messy Church International Conference experience in my heart and try to live each day as if my Messy Church friends were standing beside me and rooting me on, because I know they are, somewhere, out there. I continue to support them through prayer and a loud, “Hurrah”. I am counting the days until we return to England in 2022 for MCIC22. Until then my heart is full with the love and joy of the Holy Spirit that is Messy Church and its lovely International family of friends.

A Note from Messy Church USA:  We support the international movement of Messy Church through donating a financial tithe to Messy Church BRF each year.  If you want to further support the international movement, consider their ongoing Messy 100 financial appeal  here. 

Messy Memories

Part 1 of 2

A blogpost by Crystal Goetz 

Messy Church USA Regional Coordinator for Washington 

Crystal with friends from Sweden

I was a little scared when I arrived at High Leigh Centre in Hertfordshire on that overcast day in early May of 2019. I was traveling from London alone in a country that was not my own and I wasn’t sure what I had gotten myself into. I asked Executive Director of Messy Church USA, Roberta Egli about the Messy Church International Conference back at a September 2018 training event and from the moment she described it, I knew I had to go. I felt God nudge me and I recognized the gentle touch and still small voice and urgently felt I had to be a part of this community of people that were doing Messy Church around the world. Still as I stepped out of the cab in front of the conference center, I was asking myself, “What are you doing?” With much trepidation I paid the driver grabbed my suitcase and entered the conference center. And then…it happened!


Lucy Moore, founder of Messy Church and icon in my little office in Auburn Washington, ran to me as I entered the door and hugged me tight and said, “We are so glad you are here. Welcome!!!!!” It still makes me tear up to think about it. She didn’t know me before that moment, well not really. We had spoken briefly on a Regional Coordinator Zoom meeting, but she certainly didn’t know me by sight. To Lucy, I was a fellow Messy Church enthusiast and supporter. That’s all that mattered in that moment.

 

Crystal with freinds from Scotland, South Hampton, Surrey and Australia– a global meal!

Through the eyes of a newcomer, I had so many preconceived notions about what I thought would happen at this conference, because I had been to church conferences before and was less than thrilled. However, this Messy Church conference was not like anything I had experienced before. Nor, was it something I could have ever dreamed was possible? When we came together for our first session, there was no awkwardness about singing or participating. Only joy and more than 200 people joining together in song, loudly and with vigor. Enthusiasm reigned supreme and we were transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit in that place.

The Spirit continued to take hold over the weekend through Lucy Moore’s warmth and leadership, Martyn Payne’s devotionals, Stephen Fischbacher’s wonderful music, Jane Leadbetter’s enthusiasm and ecobrick mastery, Claire Dalpra’s fascinating talk, Barry Brand’s hilarity, Andrew Roberts life-changing Holy Habits, mini Messy Church sessions and much more, until we were filled to the brim by the time we had to part on Sunday afternoon. Then, there came a moment that was defining for me. Richard Fisher, the Chief Executive at Bible Reading Fellowship, came to the podium to talk about the support that Bible Reading Fellowship offers the Messy Churches around the world. Then he had to do a difficult but extremely necessary task, to ask for financial support from the worldwide network of Messy Churches. It hit me. They do so much for us, we need to support them. BRF is the foundation and Messy Church is the house. It became somewhat of a mission to me from that moment to support the foundational organization that sustains us all. Bible Reading Fellowship. Together we are better.

Let’s Get Connected

A Blogpost by Roberta J. Egli 

New Every morning is your love, great God of light,
and all day long you are working for good in the world…

The sun was rising over Chicago as my overnight flight from Oregon circled around downtown to land at O’Hare. I thought of this prayer, that I learned at the Academy for Spiritual Formation as I gave God thanks for the dawn of another day. Although I don’t remember her name, I connected with my seatmate when she asked if I could airdrop the picture from my phone that I had taken of the early dawn to her phone. I will never see her again, but we are now connected through a shared picture on our smart phones. That was the first of many connections that were made throughout the weekend.

Dawn breaking over Chicago

I was traveling to Chicago to lead a training in Michigan City for Messy Church. What a gift the weekend was for me! For the first time ever, I connected with four great mid-west Messy Church USA Regional Coordinators in person! Ronda Bower, Robin Cannon, Jill Mayer and Andrew Scanlan-Holmes have participated with me in phone calls, emails and monthly zoom teleconferences but all being together in person was fantastic!

I connected with the generous hospitality of Michigan City First United Methodist Church. Pastor Nancy gave me a wonderful place to catch up on sleep after a night on the plane. Trish Johnsen, Children’s Ministry Director of Michigan City First, spent hours of preparation so that all of us were warmly welcomed to a day of training.

Finally, I connected with 85 people who came from six different denominations and 18 different local churches. Some teams traveled several hours to get to the training. We spent time learning some best practices to get started with Messy Church. We learned from each other through conversations and Messy Activities.

I am grateful for the many ways we connect through the Messy Church USA network. Getting to know one another through phone calls, webinars and zoom calls are all great ways we connect, yet it is an extra gift when we can meet in person. Over the next several months, there are several training events from the state of Washington to New Hampshire! I invite you to check out the website and connect with others involved with Messy Church. One consistent positive statement that we receive on our feedback forms is that being with and learning from other local churches who are starting or have already started Messy Church in their local context is very valuable as they move forward. Make plans to connect!


Be sure to check out the two-part blog post from Crystal Goetz coming soon. Crystal writes that connecting with others from all over the world was a major highlight for her at the Messy Church International Conference 2019. She continues to stay connected with new friends from Sweden, Denmark, South Africa and many other places. 

Let’s get and stay connected!
Messy Blessings,

Roberta