First Meeting at Seekers Church
On March 15th, the Time and Space mission group of Seekers Church hosted a meeting of all the different groups that use our space to support the life of their communities. It was the first of what we believe will be an emerging effort to acknowledge and support the Community of Communities that nurture their life together in our space on Carrol Street. That evening six members of Seekers met with twelve building users from nine different groups. The groups represented included Sovereignty of God, Covenant Christian Community, Science of Spirituality, Blue Mountain Satsang, the Takoma Rush Hour Group, Argentine Tango, Inner Circle, a Women’s Support Group, National Spiritual Science Center, and Seekers Church.
Based on the success of this initial gathering, we hope to offer other opportunities for this kind of community-building in the future.
The meeting started with snacks and small talk. Then we had a few introductory remarks by the Seekers Time and Space mission group, expressing our interest in the missions of the people who use our building, and our desire to provide a time and place for each group to talk about their work, and about the space we all share.
We heard first from our newest group, the women who teach Argentine Tango on Thursday evenings. Their classes start at 7:30 so they were gracious enough to spend a few minutes with us before their students arrived. They take students at any level, and it is clear that they love their work. They describe their classes as an international community with students at all levels. Classes are offered in six-week blocks. They urged us to join them after the meeting for some tango practice.
A representative from the National Spiritual Science Center spoke next. The Center, which started in the 1940s, offers a course of study in the ancient Mystery Schools. The program takes four years, and includes intensive training in meditation. Students in the Center are not asked to leave the different faith traditions they come from as they deepen their understanding of meditation: the Center believes in free will and choice.
The Takoma Rush Hour Group is an AA meeting that gathers on Thursday from 5:30-6:30. (There is another AA meeting on Mondays from 6:00 to 7:00 pm.) The Rush Hour Group has been meeting in the building for about four years, and feels welcome and blessed to be in the Seekers building, so close to the Metro Station.
Reprogram Your Life is a prison ministry that helps inmates learn basic life skills, character development, spirituality, and strategies for dealing with substance abuse. It has been in existence since 1969. Their representatives also run a group on the second Saturday of each month called the Inner Circle. This group is for support, consciousness-raising, and wisdom teaching of people in helping professions (social workers, etc.). The Inner Circle meets on second Saturdays from 10:00 am till 4:00 pm, ending their meetings with a meal. They have been in the building for a year.
The representatives from Sovereignty of God shared that their group is a Christian mission that started as a house church five years ago. They have been in the building for about two years. They believe God’s work is complementary, not competitive. They feel they were led to Seekers Church as a part of their ministry, and feel blessed and enabled by the community spirit of our building. They shared information about a book they use as a resource: Operation World. They meet on Sunday evenings, in the conference room, from 4:00 until 10:00 pm.
The Blue Mountain Satsang meets on Wednesday evenings, 6:30 to 8:00 pm. Their representatives shared the eight-point program they practice; which includes meditation, exercise, putting others first, and spiritual companionship. They began meeting at American University, then at the headquarters building of Church of the Savior at Dupont Circle (during the years Seekers also used that building). Blue Mountain is a national organization that is based in California. They say that they can feel the sacred energy in the building.
The representative from the Covenant Christian Community gave us a bit of their history, They were started by Rev. Lola Johnson Singletary in 1978. Rev. Lola knew Gordon Cosby, who started Church of the Savior in the late 40s, and modeled Covenant on the Church of the Savior. Covenant is a partner with Seekers in a Sacred Conversations about Race and Diversity group—which formed after President Obama asked churches to begin that dialogue. Covenant has also supported a Thanksgiving food delivery ministry for years. Seekers Church has been part of this effort for several years, and last Thanksgiving helped deliver 300 boxes of holiday food to households in need.
Science of Spirituality meets every Sunday of the month except for the first, when they join with their larger organization at an out of town gathering. Science of Spirituality, which was started in India, always has a living teacher. Their current spiritual leader is Sant Rajinder Singh Ji Mararaj. He and all of the leadership are volunteers. They follow a meditation path that includes two main forms: one of light, and another of sound. The representative who joined us at the meeting has been a member since 1970, and welcomed anyone to join them on Sunday afternoon at 3:00 pm for their meeting and the meal they always end with.
There was a representative from the women’s support group that meets on Wednesdays at 7:00 pm. She is a mental health therapist in private practice. She is also is familiar with Church of the Savior, especially the Dayspring retreat center.
Finally, those of us from Seekers described our church. We shared that we are a progressive Christian church who do not have “clergy;” we have a distributed leadership style in which small groups hold the authority for different areas of our common life. We have an adult education program called the School of Christian Living which meets on Tuesday evenings (starting with a light dinner at 7:00 pm). We meet for worship on Sunday morning at 9:00 am, and have several ministries: support of a youth program in South Africa called Bokamoso; a folk music concert series called Carroll Cafe; a “care pack” ministry for homeless people, and an annual work pilgrimage to Guatemala. As the conversation continued we described the process of becoming a member of the church, a path that takes up to two years of classes, small group membership, and sponsorship.
We shared a handout that described the building usage for the past year, which is included below. Outside of Seekers events, there were 656 events in the building; we hosted 8 faith communities, and 33 other groups. Seekers has always hoped that our building would be used throughout the week, not only on Sundays, and we have all of our building users to thank for that.
Every person who spoke in the meeting was pleased with the space they were using, and felt a palpable sense of the spirit in the building. We were happy to see that each of the groups represented seemed to have an understanding of a spiritual life that is congruent with ours. We felt a very complementary camaraderie with them. By the end of the meeting, questions and conversations about each other’s work were popping up all around the circle, and the conversations after the meeting seemed animated and warm. The whole evening confirmed our idea of 276 Carroll St. as a Community of Communities. We hope to arrange more regular meetings of building users and hope those who didn’t this time, might join us then.
for the Time and Space mission group