Gifts for Growing

Every year Circle of Hope calls on gifted people to help us grow. While most of what we have fits well into a cell or Sunday meeting, we organize further events to help each other grow in particular ways.

Our schedule is arranged around the seasons:

Spring is devoted to Earth: Planting seeds of faith and helping them sprout.

• Summer is devoted to Wind: Taking first steps of life in the Spirit.

• Fall is devoted to Fire: Accepting the gifts we bring to the community and our purpose, and learning to give them.

• Winter is devoted to Water: Deepening resources for transformation.

The rest of our Way of Jesus site is organized in a similar way; it has resources to help us move along on our journey in Christ.

At this point, our yearly offerings come in five categories: spiritual development, Bible and theology, marriage and parenting, business and finance and community building. The pastor’s add another track with their leadership training.

January to March 2019 ▨ Water

Spiritual Development

▶ February 16 Second Half of Life Day Retreat

—9:30am-3:30pm at 2212 S. Broad St.

Many people see the second half of life as largely about getting old, dealing with health issues, and letting go of life. Not us. What looks like falling apart as we age and falling down as we fail can largely be experienced as "falling upward." That's part of what we will explore together as we invite 40somethings and older to consider how to go deep with God at their ripe age. Cost is $10. Purchase tickets at Eventbrite.

▶ March 6 Ash Wednesday

—Different times and locations (see description)

One of the great things about this inaugural day of Lent is that the ceremony came to include wearing ashes. There are many levels to the symbol. You can enter it on whatever level you choose and give it the meaning it needs to have for you. But it mainly has the two movements of the truest story:

1) it is about grieving the distance between you and God.

2) It is about waking up to the closeness of Christ in letting his light shine on you.

  • 2212 S. Broad Street: 8pm-9pm
  • 2007 Frankford Ave: 8pm-9pm
  • 3800 Marlton Pike, NJ: 7:30pm-8:30pm
  • For 5720 Ridge Ave. different location: 7:30pm-8:30pm at Fernhill Park Pavilion, entrance across from 441 W. Abbottsford Ave. 19144

▶ March 6 to April 13 Lent in Your Cell

—In cells

Each of our daily prayer entries during Lent will have a dialogue and prayer section that could be suitable for a cell or family time of mutual encouragement and development. Maybe some cells or other constellations of people will choose to gather each day to pray and dialogue. That would be a great discipline for Lent!

▶ March 9 Lent Day Retreat: O Happy Day

—8:30am-2:30pm at 2212 S. Broad St.

Lent is a perfect time to learn new and refresh old spiritual disciplines. This day is an introduction to the season of Lent, contemplative prayer, journaling, and mutual discernment for those who are new to them. For more experienced people it is a lovely day to be quiet and return to a place of focus as we enter into this great time of the year. The theme will be "O Happy Day." Facilitated by Gwen White. RSVP at Eventbrite here.

▶ March 19 and April 4 Lent Worship Relief

—7:30pm | March 19 at 2007 Frankford Ave. | April 4 at 2212 S. Broad St.

We need to touch the Savior and receive a tangible touch from him. Worship Relief is an opportunity to feel something—to practice reaching out and discover God reaching back. Music, prayer, and song repeated four times in each of our congregations, this event is designed for all to participate no matter your faith experience.

▶ April 14-21 Holy Week

—In cells

Join with Jesus in the drama of his final week. Walk with him from the Hosanna’s of Palm Sunday at our Sunday meetings, all over our region to see Jesus right here in our midst bringing his passion. Monday through Thursday we will have observances at 7:30pm each evening. Good Friday, from 12-3pm, we will have vigils with an imaginative prayer walk for the Stations of the Cross in each of our neighborhoods. Resurrection Sunday will find us on Lemon Hill in Philadelphia (behind Boathouse Row) to greet the Risen Savior at Sunrise. Block out the whole week on your calendar to make as many of the observances as possible.

Bible and Theology

▶ February 23 Old Testament Overview Day Retreat

—9am-3pm at 2007 Frankford Ave.

Ben White and Jonny Rashid host our annual review of the Old Testament in the Bible. It will have enough stimulation for people who have some knowledge already, but is especially designed for people who need to get the basics down. The day is designed to have the feeling of a retreat, not just a class. Free! But you must sign up on our Eventbrite here. $5 donation for simple lunch if you don't bring your own.

▶ March 4 Seminarian's Cohort: The fight between insiders and outsiders in the church—lessons from TV's A.D. (Netflix, episodes 9-11)

—7:30pm-9:30pm at 2212 S. Broad St. (in main meeting room)

The early church is having a dialogue about the temple and the Spirit, about forgiveness and holiness, about risk and safety, about change. Their confusion at the foundation is not much different than our own anger, ambivalence, and collusion with the powers. This mini-series hits those points and more. The question? What does it mean to follow the Holy Spirit in our time? Is the example of the first church still relevant? Do the insiders inevitably win?

Marriage and Parenting

▶ March 30 Marriage Workshop

—9am-1pm at 36 W. Phil-Ellena St, Phl PA 19119 (Mt Airy)

Marriages need tending at all stages to be healthy. Dr. Gerry Davis from Circle Counseling leads a workshop for couples. Registration is limited to 10 couples. Cost $40 per couple, lunch of soup and salad included. Purchase tickets at Eventbrite here.

Business and Finance

▶ March 16 Making the Most of Your Money: Purposeful finances with Everence

—10am-12pm at 2007 Frankford Ave.

The Capacity Core team and Everence provide a workshop to help people gain practical skills for managing finances. RSVP at Eventbrite here.

Community Building

▶ January 7 About Making a Covenant

—7:30pm at 2212 S. Broad St.

The pastors lead prospective covenant-makers through the basic meaning and practicalities of this important step. The covenant is the core of love and mutuality that holds our whole church together. It’s not a matter of being in or out, it’s a matter of saying yes to Jesus, to our common strategy. We want to be a real people living in real love.

▶ January 28 About Circle of Hope

—7:30pm at Various Locations

Want to learn more about Circle of Hope but aren’t sure how to ask? This is a great place to do that. We want to talk about who we are and what we are doing. You might have other questions too. Why do we meet at night? Why do we multiply? Why are we Christians? What’s the point of planting churches? Let’s answer them together. We hope we learn as much from you as you do from us.

April to June 2019 ▨ Earth

Spiritual development

▶ April TBD ▨ How can I listen to God? The art of conversational prayer

Our pastor, Rachel Sensenig, and friends offer a new workshop for people taking first steps in prayer. Art Bucher and our prayer team will host a 2-hour workshop this month to learn the art of conversational prayer. It will be refreshing and informative, with time to practice this soul-nourishing way of life. Sign-up required.

▶ June TBD ▨ Comfort Retreat

You are invited to a half-day retreat designed for resting in the comfort of the Comforter. It is especially focused on those feeling anxious or grieved (who isn't?). We will thread the time with favorite songs, make space to be with the Comforter (it is Pentecost season!), tune the disciplines that help us when we are troubled, and meditate on being people who need to be comforted in our comforting (see 2 Cor. 1). Space will be limited. If we don't have a minimum number we will postpone (and give a refund). $10 registration fee is a donation to people who need comfort (we will let you know who at the retreat). Contact your cell leader if $10 is too much for you. Angie Petersen and friends will offer this annual salve for the wounds we all carry. All prayer levels welcome. BYO lunch.

Bible and theology

▶ May TBD ▨ What is the Bible and what do I do with it?

Our pastor, Ben White, and friends offer a workshop for people getting acquainted with the Bible. Sign-up required. Facebook event here. Eventbrite RSVP here.

▶ July TBD ▨ Seminarian’s Cohort

Our cohort of theologians invites everyone interested to do theology with them.

Marriage and parenting

▶ May TBD ▨ Parenting workshop: Relating to your child - Understanding parenting style and child temperament

Kathryn Snyder of Parent to Child leads those who sign up in relating to your child by understanding parenting style and child temperament. Space is limited. Cost $10 per person.

Business and finance

▶ June TBD ▨ Making the most of your money: Basic budgeting workshop

The Capacity Core Team offers their successful workshop for people who need to budget personal finances. (Sign-up required)

Community building

▶ April TBD About Making a Covenant

The pastors lead prospective covenant-makers through the basic meaning and practicalities of this important step.

▶ April TBD, June TBD About Circle of Hope

The pastors welcome everyone new or interested to find out what our church is all about.

▶ May TBDThe church celebrates "belonging"

The Cell Leaders gather us around one of our deepest needs. Whether you are new and wondering, bruised and recovering, or old and pondering, we still need each other. This week is for all of us.

July to September 2019 ▨ Wind

Spiritual development

▶ July 1 ▨ Ask Me Anything in our Sunday meetings and elsewhere

—At the Sunday Meetings

In honor of our commitment to nurturing dialogue that can create a Spirit-led culture, we are going to devote the evening to an AMA. That is an "Ask Me Anything." Celebrities and experts do this because they are just so interesting and people want to ask them things. We do it to bring up topics that need to have some dialogue and to give ourselves more opportunity to see what interests others. They are always good times. The questions can be about the Bible, about Circle of Hope, about politics, about personal things—whatever, anything.

▶ July 18 ▨ Worship Relief: We Need More Love

—7:30pm at 3800 Marlton Pike, NJ

Without worship we shrink, and so much makes us feel small these days. We need more of a lot of things but mostly love. We think that's something you can actually get. This is a night of worship for all levels of faith, even those who aren't so sure. Come receive a tangible, embodied experience with God. Singing, praying, resting, acting. Dan McGowan and friends lead us through an hour or so of worship relief. Facebook event here.

▶ August 23/24 ▨ Online dialogue on Saying Yes to God by Tim Geoffrion

—9pm both days. Online using Zoom. Link to come.

Let’s talk to each other about how we recognize the voice of God and learn to follow the leading of the Spirit. This is a learning opportunity! Some of us want to break through barriers and personal limitations in relating to God. We hear the invitation to go deeper from wherever we are, and the invitation comes without shame or judgement. In his book Saying Yes to God, Tim Geoffrion presents some spiritual concepts that lead to more peace, love, and direction as an outflow of faith and relating to God. You could put it on your summer reading list and tune in to talk about it with other seekers and learners at 9pm on August 23rd and/or 24th. Facebook here. Eventbrite RSVP here.

1. Read a good, basic book: Saying Yes to God by Tim Geoffrion. His own journey and his experiences in the developing world inform a broad-based look at getting a spiritual life. It is not a book you will read straight through. If you buy it now, you can read it over time and have it finished for the dialogue we hope to have.

2. Let the inspiration sink in. From August 5-17 at Circle of Hope Daily Prayer :: WIND the entries will lead us through all the chapters of the book. You can either get a refresher for what you read, or you can catch up a bit to get ready for the dialogue.

3. Create a new kind of space for mutual encouragement. On August 23-24 we want to try at least four online Zoom dialogues (at noon and 9pm). Instead of having a workshop in one of our spaces we are going to try to create an online space where we can help one another "say yes" by supplying some time for mutual inspiration. Rachel and I will make this happen.

Bible and theology

▶ September 8 ▨ New Testament Overview Day Retreat - CANCELLED

—9:00am to 4:00pm at 3800 Marlton Pike, NJ

Come enjoy a day soaking in the Bible. Get a sense of how to use the New Testament as a source of encouragement in your daily life. Practice using scripture as a way to relate to Jesus. Explore the historical context of the first-century Mediterranean. Get an overview of how the 27 books were compiled, the basics on each book, how they work together and how we read them together in Circle of Hope. Facebook here. Sign up at Eventbrite here by Friday, August 3st. Cost is $10 and includes lunch. Limit 25 people.

Marriage and parenting

▶ August 14 ▨ Marriage Workshop: Couples Talking to Couples

—7:30pm at 2007 Frankford Ave.

Rod and Gwen White help lead a workshop for couples. This evening workshop is designed for strengthening marriages. In addition to structured content, the format will make space for couples to talk with each other about marriage for broader learning and connection. Cost is $20 a couple. Facebook event is here. Sign up on Eventbrite here.

Business and finance

▶ August 25 ▨ Making the Most of Your Money: Financial Planning

—9:30am to 11:30am at 3800 Marlton Pike

Members of the Capacity Core Team offer their successful workshop for people who could use some loving help to budget personal finances. There are three main areas we're going to cover: Setting S.M.A.R.T. goals, dealing with debt, and investing according to your values. Facebook event here. Sign up on Eventbrite here.

Community building

▶ July 2 ▨ About Making a Covenant

—7:30pm at 3800 Marlton Pike, NJ

Every quarter we hold a Love Feast to reaffirm and celebrate the covenant we share as a whole church. Everyone is invited to be together to express our unity in Christ, share communion, tell stories and welcome the next people God has added to the church. In preparation for the feast, we hold a meeting to explore the specifics of our covenant called—About Making a Covenant. This is for anyone moved to consider this commitment. It is a great time to ask questions. Talk to your cell leader if you are ready to come. We’re going to try it all together in one place this time.

▶ July 30 ▨ About Circle of Hope

—Talk to local congregational pastor for location and time.

A time designed for some teaching, but mainly dialogue and questions for those new to Circle of Hope.

▶ August 6-10 ▨ In all the Cells: Mutuality for Jesus lovers

An in-cell "cellabration" of our mutuality. With a common conversation, we will remember the good we have done with the mutuality fund, pray for our capacity, and talk about participation in the Common Fund and our collective resources in a safe, yet risky way. We’ll practice the trust it takes to make even more mutuality, and explore the barriers we each have to entering it. Ideally, we will even begin to shape our Common Fund budget for 2019.

▶ September 24 ▨ About Making a Covenant

—7:30pm-9:30pm at 2007 Frankford Ave.

Every quarter we hold a Love Feast to reaffirm and celebrate the covenant we share as a whole church. Everyone is invited to be together to express our unity in Christ, share communion, tell stories and welcome the next people God has added to the church. In preparation for the feast, we hold a meeting to explore the specifics of our covenant called—About Making a Covenant. This is for anyone moved to consider this commitment. It is a great time to ask questions. Talk to your cell leader if you are ready to come. We’re going to try it all together in one place this time.

October to December 2019 ▨ Fire

Spiritual development

October 8 ▨ All Cell Leader Training: What is good sex?

—7:30pm at 3800 Marlton Pike, NJ

Sex has meaning. No one thinks it’s not a big deal. We must elevate it to the meaning that it has. The most common option Christians have used to try to preserve the meaning of sex is prohibition and condemnation, but negation is a poor motivation for anything. We need to be more for good sex and than against bad sex. This is true of our discipleship in general. We must be for and not just against. We want to talk about sex and equip our leaders to talk about sex because messages about sex are strong and consistent from our culture. What is our alternative? How do we appropriately inhabit and enjoy the wonderful gift of our bodies in a culture that so often deforms that essential goodness?

▶ October 20 ▨ Thirtysomething Day Retreat

—8:30am-4:00pm at 2212 S. Broad St.

Thirtysomethings have crucial spiritual steps to take that are often overlooked. This retreat gives them a chance to consider those steps among supportive fellow-travelers in faith. Rod White and friends will facilitate. $10 includes lunch and a small gift to MCC's work in the Congo. We'll begin with potluck brunch snacks, coffee provided. If you are a thirtysomething you are welcome. There is a minimum and maximum limit; refunds will be awarded if minimum is not reached. Eventbrite here.

▶ December ▨ Advent in your cell

—Wherever and whenever your cell meets

Let’s make the holiday season special in our cells. Advent is all about readying ourselves for new birth and transformation. What light is shining in our darkness? What expectation needs to be met in a surprising way? How will Jesus be born among us again? The pastors will offer a way to be united in this hope in every cell meeting during advent which begins December 1st and culminates on Christmas Day. Also daily reflections on our daily prayer blogs will move us through the season with common purpose.

Bible and theology

▶ December 3 ▨ Seminarian’s Cohort: Should I buy the Playstation, iPhone, AI device for Christmas?

—Location TBD

What about artificial intelligenceand how it is creeping into our toys and appliances? What does it say about the meaning of life and our relationship with machines (and all sorts of other things)?

Part of the motivation to get into this subject is all the articles that have recently popped up about it, like this one from the NY Times. While we are preoccupied with political drama, the corporations are reshaping our environment, it appears. What does God think? What does the church do? What do our traditions tell us? Should I join with Google AI?

If for no other reasons, we hope the group gets together and invites a bunch of other people to join us because of something that ended up in our teaching on guns, derived from our last dialogue: we should "Do theology like you are building a bulwark. We need theological, not ideological reactions. Otherwise we are subject to the argument that what we say is just a matter of upbringing, not truth. We are discerning God’s direction, not having our prejudices verified. From there we can look toward a common good that resists individualism and restores community."

Marriage and parenting

▶ November 3 ▨ Village Parenting Day

—3:00pm-6:30pm at 3800 Marlton Pike, NJ

We need to bring to our consciousness the fact that our children and parents are swimming in the water of mutuality. We make relationships around Jesus and so much comes out of that. Childcare sharing, advice and resources for parenting, community beyond school for our kids, BGX, mutuality fund usage for childcare so people can participate in cells and lead, and many more examples of our shared life. We need a day to realize, remember, and celebrate that we are in the water! It's like we have gills and we have to discover them again and again so we can practice, flex, and share that mutuality.

Village Parenting Day is an opportunity to share our vision with those in the church who haven't quite realized how amazing this is, and to share our alternative ideas with those who might like to join. We are undoing the isolation that parents feel. Our children need more love than just two people (or one) can give. Let's celebrate that and lean into it. Let's dream new ways to express it. Eventbrite here.

Business and finance

▶ October 15-18 ▨ In all the cells: The Gift of Fire

—Wherever and whenever your cell meets

An evening to gently tend your flame. We all want to burn as our bright, true selves. But there is a lot that dampens our spiritual spark. Let's all take care of each other in a special way and stoke a good blaze. The pastors have a plan for our in-the-cell "retreat."

Community building

▶ October 1 ▨ About Circle of Hope

—Talk to local congregational pastor for location and time.

Want to learn more about Circle of Hope but aren’t sure how to ask? This is a great place to do that? We want to talk about who we are and what we are doing. You might have other questions do? Why do we meet at night? Why do we multiply? Why are we Christians? What’s the point of planting churches? Let’s answer them together. We hope we learn as much from you as you do from us.

▶ October 22, December 3 ▨ About Circle of Hope Dinner

—7:30pm, talk to local congregational pastor for location.

Want to learn more about Circle of Hope but aren’t sure how to ask? This is a great place to do that. We want to talk about who we are and what we are doing. You might have other questions too. Why do we meet at night? Why do we multiply? Why are we Christians? What’s the point of planting churches? Let’s answer them together. We hope we learn as much from you as you do from us.