In late winter of 2009, the former Immaculate Conception
Parish launched 3 Small Church Community (SCC) groups. These groups have
continued as part of Our Lady of the Valley Parish. The SCC groups grew
out of a weekend “Good News” retreat and a day long workshop, Discovering My
Experience of God. The SCC invites you to Step Back—Slow Down—Notice Your Life.
Each SCC begins at the ground level of a faith journey,
with a 12 week community building experience called “Come As Your Are”.
In this time together we put the brakes on the hectic pace of our lives.
We learn to listen to ourselves and to each other, and to find that we can
really be our true selves with others whom we can trust to hear our stories and
we theirs. All of this is the basis for listening and hearing God’s story,
in prayer and service.
This all harkens back to the house churches of the New
Testament church that we read about in the Acts of the Apostles and
St. Paul’s letters. Like them, we attempt to meet
in members’ homes. Each SCC has 8 to 10 members with a guide who helps
facilitate the discussion. As this
small church community bonds and grows in love together, it takes on the role of
helping transform the larger parish and our parish’s mission:
in homes and families, with the forgotten and marginalized and creation
itself. As St. Paul says in Romans: the whole creation is
standing on tip toe to see the sons and daughters of God come into their own.
After the first 12 weeks, the small church gathering is
invited to continue with phase II, called:
Pray As You Are. The skill of listening developed in Phase I, is
deepened now as we learn to pray, to listen to God in the multiplicity of our
life’s experiences and ultimately in contemplative prayer.
From here on, the SCC meets weekly to read, reflect and
pray on the lectionary readings for the coming Sunday liturgy. The Word of
God meets daily life which it seeks to awaken and enliven in all of its
complexity and paradoxes and shape us into a Eucharistic, grateful people.
So, is a SCC a home for you?
Are you concerned about:
The busyness or emptiness of your life?
Going fast--but where?
What impact your faith will have on your kids?
The mess that’s inside?
Are you interested in:
Relationships with depth?
Friends that feel like family?
Composting your garbage; not dumping it on others?
Are you willing to?
To devote some time to slow down, look around and pay
attention to your life, your faith?
Trust in a Father who only asks that you Come As You
If your answer is
Yes to most of these questions, then a SCC is a good place to start the
journey. We have 2 new SCCs starting this fall and others through out the
year. Call the rectory:
413-527-9778. You will be directed
to someone to help you.