Congregations That Bloom



This DVD offers a wide array of multi-generational opportunity in any congregation, across the denominations and across diverse interfaith communities.

Congregations That Bloom is narrated by Caroline Fairless and Jim Sims, but the richness of it evolves from congregations willing to embrace more authentic ways of “being Church.”

It’s divided into seven segments, each segment carrying the theological rationale for movement in the direction of multi-generational worshipping communities.

The first segment, appropriately named A New Beginning and the one that follows, about the Rite of Baptism, speak to the longing that so many of us experience against the tide of spiritual isolation. They offer the narrative of authenticity, in voices many and diverse. The third segment – A Sense of Urgency – speaks to exactly that; why is it of critical importance at this time. that we move toward this vision of a table to which everyone – not just in theory – is invited?

Given the current reality that we as a culture are in danger of losing (if we have not already lost) the power of the biblical narrative, both Hebrew and Christian, the core of this DVD focuses on the telling of the sacred story, in song, dramatic reading, dance, first person narrative – always including the gifts of the community which transcend the generational divide.

In a humorous vein, with the direct words of members of congregations, the segment The Sounds of our Own Voices allows us to claim our own stubbornness and resistance to change.

In the segment Prayer and Confession, we who are watching this DVD get a real sense of what it could mean if the Prayers and Confession of the People were, in fact, the prayers and confessions of real people in real congregations. Through the imaginative use of “prayer cards” how might we as communities of faith carry our own prayers?

Finally, the DVD explores – again through anecdotal narrative of congregations – the inviolate necessity of liturgical art, the art of the people themselves. What could that look like? How do young people and adult people understand the power of liturgical art, particularly their own?

The Sound of Our Own Voices

The materials included in this segment of the DVD are intended as reflection pieces in two ways. One is literal. These are the actual reflections of congregational life as it is lived throughout the country and beyond. Look into a mirror and see yourself mouthing these words. They belong to all of us.
The second is reflective. What lies beneath these comments? What are the real concerns and how are we to address them?

What follows are transcriptions of actual conversations. We hope the humor is obvious; we hope as well that we can find our way underneath the words themselves, to the deeper concerns expressed.

  1. ~ Older woman complaining to the music director ~Not only do I not want to sing any of this new music, I don’t anyone else to sing it either!
  1. ~Senior Warden to Associate Pastor ~You know that family that visited this morning? Well, that’s exactly the kind of people we want. Except for the children, of course. What would we do with those children?
  1. ~ Altar Guild Chair in a certified letter to the Bishop ~And one Sunday, a ten year old girl came up to the priest and asked for the altar flowers. “It’s my birthday this week,” she said. “Do you think I could have the flowers?” And the priest said yes! Our priest has been here six years already, and she still doesn’t know that those flowers have to stay on the altar until Wednesday, for the noon prayer service.
  1. ~ From the preacher from the pulpit ~It’s really okay if children and teenagers are bored in church. The important thing is that they come with their parents, so they can watch their parents at worship.
  1. ~Senior Pastor to a Parent of Young Children ~Christianity is an adult religion.

Here are a few examples of possible questions for reflection which might emerge from these statements:

  • What assumptions underlie this statement?
  • What (and who) are at risk?
  • What is the danger of not challenging this statement?
  • What are the risks of addressing it?
  • Who is and who is not being served?