Saturday, May 29, 2010

Parkside Block Party!

Parkside Neighborhood Block Party
Saturday, June 5th -- 11:30am-2:00pm

on Sherman Street, near Sacred Heart -- St. Dominic Catholic Church

Friends from Chestnut and New Light will be teaming up with other local churches and organizations again this summer for 2 exciting block parties in the Parkside Neighborhood. Festivities are to include food, live music, games, children's activities, a summer clothing give-away, and a bounce house.

We need everyone's help to make this block party a huge success. Volunteer jobs are big and small, and include; set up, staffing the bounce house, helping with food, helping with an art project, face painting, taking pictures, and more. Contact Erica to sign up to volunteer.

Also, if you have summer clothes that are in decent shape that you are no longer using, please donate them to our neighbors who need them.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Rethink Church

Chestnut United Methodist Church, formerly Chestnut Street Church, and a new community of faith called New Light, share a unique partnership as they together strive to revitalize United Methodist mission and ministry in Portland. These partner congregations are truly rethinking church!

In January 2006, the Chestnut Street congregation took a giant leap of faith, selling their enormous National Register of Historic Places facility and then worshiping in borrowed space in a nearby synagogue for three years while discerning a new future. Clergy couple Allen & Sara Ewing-Merrill were appointed in July 2007 to help revitalize Chestnut Church and to plant a new community of faith that would engage young adults and those who’d had either no experience or a bad experience with traditional church.

New Light was born in November 2007 with a vision to “see things in a new light” – to rethink what it means to follow Christ. Beginning with a small group meeting weekly in the Ewing-Merrills’ home for dinner, prayer, exploration of spiritual practices, and worship, soon they’d outgrown the dining room table, and so they multiplied to two groups… and then to three groups… and now there are four LIFE Groups meeting weekly in various members’ homes around the city. These small groups are not secondary to a worship service, not an “add-on”, and not an extra outreach ministry of a traditional church… These LIFE Groups are church in the truest sense – church meeting in homes, not unlike the early Christians shared for the first 300 years of the Christian faith.

Meanwhile, a missionally focused Site Team from Chestnut UMC undertook an 18-month process of discernment, praying for guidance while researching the needs and opportunities for ministry in the various neighborhoods of the Portland peninsula. That process resulted in a clear sense of calling to the Parkside neighborhood, the most densely populated square mile in Northern New England, a neighborhood with many urban issues like drug trafficking, prostitution, domestic violence, and cross-cultural clashes. After a lengthy search for property in the neighborhood, they finally purchased a 2800-square-foot commercial condominium on the ground floor of the Gateway parking garage on High Street, just down from the historic Eastland Hotel. Their new facility is a contemporary space with lots of clear windows overlooking the sidewalks of a heavily trafficked, high visibility street in downtown Portland.

In March 2009, Chestnut UMC and New Light began a new adventure at Hope.Gate.Way., their new center for mission and ministry on the Portland peninsula. With a new and inviting space and a strengthened presence in the city, worship participation is increasing, young adults are finding both Chestnut Church and the New Light community, and lives are being transformed with the Good News of God’s love. They’ve held focus groups to better understand the needs of their neighbors. They’ve gotten involved in the neighborhood food pantry. With the help of Thornton Heights UMC in South Portland, they held their first Vacation Bible Camp in years, welcoming 18 new children from the neighborhood, including nine children originally from Africa. They’ve begun a preschoolers play group to reach out to vulnerable families in the neighborhood. With assistance from a Peace with Justice grant from the General Board of Church & Society, they’ve built a collaboration with other neighborhood churches, the neighborhood center and community policing, Wayside Soup Kitchen, and SPIRAL Arts to offer a series of Block Parties in the various streets of the neighborhood, and hundreds of neighbors have participated, enjoying live music, good food, children’s activities, face painting, and a community arts project. Over the summer, the New Light community held a picnic and worship at Pine Point Beach in Scarborough and baptized two young adults new to the Christian faith, both 23 years old, in the ocean!

New plans for mission and ministry – all focused on reaching out with the love of Jesus Christ – are continually being developed. As Chestnut Church and New Light community rethink church, the future looks bright for the United Methodist movement in Portland.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Buzz

Maybe you've begun to hear it, too:  There's a little buzz around the streets of Portland.  It's not a loud cry, but it's growing in intensity, and it sounds something like this:
"What's that new place over on High Street?"
"I hear your church has relocated to Parkside neighborhood."
"I walked by the windows of your new place, and it looks like you have a great space there!"
Everywhere we go, people are asking questions.  Our friends from Immanuel Baptist Church and Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church have been welcoming us warmly.  People walking by our space stop and read the signs and peek in the windows.  We've gotten a couple of phone calls and e-mails from people who are interested in learning more.
Yes, there's a little buzz around the streets of Portland.
As the renovations near completion and the space is fully ours... as we begin to develop programs of mission and ministry... as we move through this time of transitions and new beginnings... as we build relationships with our new neighbors... as we deepen our expressions of invitation and hospitality... how might we build on that buzz and do our part to help it grow more and more intense, until it's clear that the buzz is actually the song of God's love... until it's clear the buzz is the light of Christ shining brightly... until it's clear the buzz is the voice of the Holy Spirit?
God places the future before us, and it's full of hope!  Let's sing and shine and listen and hope and dream and trust and walk boldly along the path where Christ leads!
In Christ's love,
Allen & Sara

Monday, February 16, 2009

Progress! Progress! Progress!

We celebrate that renovations are well underway in our new space – Hope.Gate.Way. – at 185 High Street! Things are looking great! If all goes as planned, we should be worshipping and serving in our new home as of Sunday, March 1st. Please continue to pray for a smooth process as we anticipate this exciting new beginning!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Book Study: A Generous Orthodoxy

Meeting Thursdays at 9:30 am

We’ve just begun a new Thursday morning study based on the book A Generous Orthodoxy, by author and pastor Brian McLaren, one of the leading thinkers in the effort to steer the church in new directions to meet a changing culture. Brian McLaren will be speaking at Immanuel Baptist Church on Sunday, May 3, and we’re invited to participate. This week’s book study group will meet at Pat Oliver’s. All are invited!