Let us consider how to incite one another to love and good works.
(Hebrews 10:24, Hart translation)
Bear one another’s burdens and thus you will fulfill the law of the Anointed.
(Galatians 6:2, Hart translation)
At St. Thomas, our relationships are guided by these teachings. We encourage one another. We incite one another to love and good works. We bear one another’s burdens. Here are some of the ways we’re doing it.
We get together in all kinds of small groups for fellowship and spiritual growth –
Spiritual growth groups at St. Thomas are self-organizing. They come about when a few people are passionate about an idea, a way of serving others, a path to insight, a certain book of poems and prayers, or something else that seems like it should be shared. Groups change in response to people’s interests. We’ve had a Men’s Group, an Artists’ Group, a Young Woman’s group – and we could have those groups again, if anyone wanted to start one. New ideas are welcome too!
As of September 2021, these spiritual growth groups are currently meeting or getting started. Some of the Spiritual Growth Groups, such as the Fiber Arts Group, are meeting via Zoom. Contact the church office for more information.
SGGs are lay-organized and lay-led, so if you’d like to try to start one during COVID, you could give it a try. Learning to be a Zoom meeting host is relatively easy.
As of February 2020, these spiritual growth groups are currently meeting or getting started.
Intergenerational Fiber Arts Group: Bring a craft to work on, learn a new craft, enjoy fellowship a conversation, and munch on some snacks! Create your own project, collaborate on a project, or work on a service project. This group gathers monthly and is open to all ages, all crafts, and all skill levels.
Women’s Bible Study: Join us for every second Sunday of the month for a women’s Bible study based on the monthly Bible study from Women of the ELCA’s Gather Magazine. Let’s journey together eachmonth! This Bible study will not conflict with the dates that Living the Questions meets. If you subscribe to Gather Magazine, feel free to bring your copy. Copies of the Bible study will also be provided. Feel free to attend when you can! We will meet in Rooms 16/17.
Women’s Book Club: This group provides an opportunity for STLC women to get together to discuss a book (read by group members beforehand), as well as to get to know each another more deeply and enjoy fellowship with one another!
Potential Books: Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess (The 7 Experiment) by Jen Hatmaker, Falling Upward by Richard Rohr
We used to get together to share meals – and we miss it!
Oh, how we miss being together in person! We continue to find ways to get together on Zoom for meetings and spiritual growth groups. People are swapping groceries using front-porch trading, settling in for long phone calls, even writing actual letters on actual paper – but we miss each other very much. We can hardly wait to start making hot dishes again – when it’s safe.
We look for ways to bear one another’s burdens –
We’ve been doing this a lot lately as we shepherd one another through the pandemic. The Spirit strengthens us through the kindness of other members of this community and inspires us to be just and kind ourselves.
Mission and service to others strengthens the whole Body, and our Mission Committee finds ways to get everyone involved – here, a churchwide project of assembling supplies for Lutheran World Relief.
Lay Care Visitor Ministry
The St. Thomas Lay Care Visitor Ministry is part of our congregation’s ongoing intention to be there for one another in difficult times. Divorce, death, grief, depression, illness, recovery from substance abuse, unemployment, and family changes are all part of life. St. Thomas Lay Care Visitors are linked with a person who has expressed an interest in receiving this ministry and provide one-on-one spiritual companionship, walking alongside and providing a quiet, confidential, and compassionate listening ear. Lay Care Visitors receive regular ongoing supervision and training from the Pastor. Contact the Church Office to be connected with this ministry.
Caring Community Workshops
Before the pandemic, the Lay Care Visitors scheduled workshops on topics related to their work and to congregational members. Experts were brought in to lead these Sunday afternoon workshops, open to everyone in the community. Topics included listening, dealing with suicide, grief, depression, and the basics of pastoral care.
Offering a luncheon following a funeral at the church is a tradition we are thankful to sustain. Members of the congregation will provide, serve, and tidy up after a funeral collation at the church.
We share our experiences of grieving –
St. Thomas, like all faith communities, has always had shared practices to help the grieving. Grieving is a familiar path and we’ve pitched in together to help one another travel the journey of grief. We spoke gently to the grieving. We brought food. We worshiped together at a funeral or memorial service. In whatever way we could, we embraced one another.
And then – all at once – our congregation’s practice of shared journey came up against the strange realities of life with COVID-19.
How do we grieve together in this new situation?
How do we comfort one another? What should we say? What can we do?
How do we remember?
How do we ourselves find solace?
We made a web page to share our experiences of grieving. Members and friends of St. Thomas shared readings, music, prayers, art, and memories that brought you consolation when grief entered their lives. What’s been helpful or meaningful for you? Please explore Grieving In Place to see what has been shared so far.