Sunday 8:15 a.m. Holy Eucharist Rite I
nave & online: Zoom
Sunday 10:45 a.m. Holy Eucharist Rite II
nave & online: Facebook/website
Tuesday 8:00 p.m. Compline
Wednesday 12:00 p.m. Eucharist
December 24 at 4:00 & 10:00 p.m.
December 25 at 10:00 a.m.
January 1 at 10:00 a.m.
The Grace Church nave is located at the corner of Washington Street and Boulevard in Gainesville, Georgia.
The parish office, open Monday through Thursday from 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM, is located at 422 Brenau Avenue. Come to the red door that faces Brenau Avenue and ring the bell for access.
Mailing Address: 422 Brenau Avenue, Gainesville, GA 30501
The Center for Prayer and Spiritual Practice at Grace Episcopal Church seeks to nurture the transformation of the community from the inside out.
We find ourselves in a situation where the institutional Church faces decline in terms of membership and attendance. Why is this the case? What questions do we need to ask, given that we truly believe in the life-giving presence of the Spirit that calls us to this shared ministry of reconciliation as a Christian community?
Recent data lays out a picture that is quite stark. In the past decade, The Episcopal Church has lost twenty percent of its membership. A recent article lays out our own internal numbers that demonstrate the wider reality of our particular Episcopal community.
If this trend continues, with a twenty percent decline each decade, we can see where this leads. Our own particular story of decline in The Episcopal Church takes its place within the wider context of spiritual interest and socio-religious dynamics in our nation and wider world that the Pew Forum and other agencies have been exploring for some time.
A recent in-depth study by the Fetzer Institute is intriguing for what it shows regarding the role or importance of spirituality in American culture today.
It is clear that spirituality plays a very important role in the life of Americans. Indeed, in the Fetzer study, seven in ten participants shared that spirituality plays an important role in their lives; however, they also note that the lived dynamic of spirituality is complex and diverse. What does it mean to “be spiritual?”
As we see the institutional church struggling in terms of both membership and participation, how can we more fully engage these questions of spiritual seeking and practice? With such an interest in spirituality within the wider culture, what may we be missing? What do we need to pay attention to?
To be sure, our goal or hope as a parish is not merely to grow in numbers. What our own story tells us is that we seek to nurture this deeper space of reconciliation and transformation so that we live differently–more compassionately and prayerfully–in the world. A deeper focus on spiritual growth and our core identity will nurture the growth of the community.
We need a structure for language and study that can introduce these core elements to the wider parish, so that we can continue to do the deeper transformative work we are called to explore. To that end, I am inviting a group of people to embark on a pilot program at Grace.
What if we actually formed a Center at the heart of the parish’s life, an intentional space that could foster this level of engagement and practice within the wider community? What if we intentionally asked ourselves this question, with everything we do and explore: How can this opportunity nurture the transformative reconciliation in Jesus Christ that lies at the heart of our mission? Our core cluster framework can support this level of intentionality through our planning and development with Administration, Compassion, Formation, Participation, and Liturgy & Creative Expression.
We have three key focus points for our shared study and work with The Center for Prayer and Spiritual Practice: Prayer Practices, Biblical Studies, and Ethics/Connections to Daily Living. These three areas will enable us to pay close attention to what we can learn from the broader Christian tradition (as well as resonances with interfaith partners) and explore how our practices actually transform the way we live in the world today.
How can we explore the broader Christian tradition with regards to actual practices of prayer? How can an intentional practice of prayer nurture the transformation we are called to embody? What are different types of prayer, and how do these connect with our lives and nurture spiritual gifts? How do we understand our relationship with God in Christ, through the Spirit? Also, how do we notice the rich intersections with other religious traditions? What insights can we gain from wisdom traditions around the world who are also exploring the shared hope of a transformation of consciousness?
How can we learn more about our story and the way that our sacred texts shape the way we see the world? How can we engage our texts more–and see how a deeper reflection on these stories shape our lives? How do we understand the role–and complexity–of language in trying to describe our experiences of God?
How can understanding of how our shared prayer transform the way we live in the world (our Eucharistic and Baptismal identity)? How can we explore a more robust reflection on the practice of Christian virtue, etc? How do we see the connections between our worship and the way we live in the world? How can we learn from various ways of cultivating a Rule of Life, or daily discipline of practice that supports our hope for compassion, justice, and peace?