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What if? (a)Spire takes Worship to the Streets

by AJ Bush

AJ BushAJ Bush, a second year Masters of Divinity student at Claremont School of Theology, has been working as an intern at (a)Spire for the past three months.  AJ’s passion is for local church ministry and identifying intersections of worship, justice, and community.

What if worship happened on a walk to raise money and awareness for hunger issues both here and abroad?  What if church left the building and took worship to the streets?

(a)Spire Ministry, a ministry of First Congregational Church (FCC) in Pasadena, found themselves asking these questions about a month ago.  The Pasadena Crop Walk was upcoming and funds from this walk were going to support organizations in Pasadena that (a)Spire has partnered with in the past.  Since (a)Spire worships at 1:00pm every Sunday, the community had to decide if they wanted to hold their regular worship service or try taking worship to the Crop Walk. 

As a student intern from Claremont School of Theology, I was attracted to (a)Spire as an internship placement because of its innovative community and worship style.  As a young adult, I resonate with the idea that worship is less about what happens on Sunday morning and more about what happens the rest of the week. Worship should propel us into the community, working for social justice, reconciliation, and peace.  Could (a)Spire embody this intersection by holding worship at the Crop Walk?

On the day of the Crop Walk, 16 people from (a)Spire gathered together complete with walking clothes, sunscreen, and water bottles.  Before the walk, a time of intentional worship was opened through group prayer.  During the walk, people conversed with one another about the importance of serving the poor and participating in ethical food practices.  At the close of the walk the community re-gathered for a time of community prayer and reflection.

Was this worship?  Walter Brueggeman defines worship as the “interaction between God and community through the use of trusted signs.” [1]  In my experience, the Crop Walk was a profound example of interaction between God and the community of the faithful.  Through the signs of prayer, relationships, justice, and care for the least of these, we worshiped God with our feet and with our actions.  No building necessary!

The Crop Walk provided an avenue for (a)Spire to take worship into the community as well as raise support for community organizations.  Money raised on this walk will go to support groups such as the Bad Weather Shelter, Friends In Deed, and ACTS Food Pantry.  The decision to walk for worship will have an effect long past that Sunday afternoon, touching the lives of many people throughout our community.  Now that’s what church should be all about!

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  [1] Walter Brueggeman, Worship in Ancient Israel (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2005), 2.

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