by Tuesday Rupp, student reporter

Day one of the 2013 ISM Congregations Project began with excited conversation over coffee at New Haven’s First Presbyterian Church. The transformation was already beginning. Representatives from nine congregations across the United States and Canada began to share with each other, the world-class instructors, and ISM Student Reporters about projects they have come to share. For many mainline Protestant and Catholic congregations, this is a time of great change – how should the Church respond? Dorothy Bass addressed this change on Friday at the ISM Congregations Project seminar welcome: “These communities do not find this reality paralyzing,” she said, adding that she finds “life, hope, and creativity” in the descriptions of the gathered congregations and in the projects they have brought. Bass described the three pillars of this theme of renewal as Hospitality, Testimony, and Ritual Engagement, pillars that emerged over and over again in the participants’ introductions of their mission statement and projects.

In the afternoon, three representatives from previous years shared some of the ways this seminar has helped them perceive and shape their work. Cheryl Cornish testified about the need to share the narrative of community and peace that the church offers; Dale Sieverding reminds us that Hospitality means going out to into the world, and not just waiting for the world to come through the door; Craig Mueller emphasized that in worship we engage in work and rest in a counter-cultural way to the hyperactivity of the world around us.