The First Fruits of Revival
We’ve been preparing for revival for a year now, and it’s just a matter of hours until we share this wondrous, long-awaited experience. We have discerned a theme, selected venues, and planned communications, partnered gratefully with folks at the Church Center on tech and program, and thoroughly worked out logistics. This is what folks see on the surface of revival preparation. What they can’t see is the spiritual underbelly without which revival could not happen, nor would it have the same transformative power. To put it bluntly, the Church in Western Massachusetts has been at prayer, and our prayer has led to some action. For me, this is what revival is all about—connecting our faith to our lives in this world. Here’s what we are doing because of revival—because the Spirit is leading this dance of internal and external evangelism.
[Check out our evangelism resources, including curricula, grants information, missional initiatives, and more here.]
In the season of Epiphany, we launched a closed Facebook Group called 6 Weeks in the Light. It was both an experiment in the fruitfulness of intentional cyber-community and a platform in which to hear from God’s people what they believe needs “reviving” in Western Massachusetts. It was a success on both fronts. It became a tent of meeting for strangers who became spiritual friends. And the truths surfaced by our weekly prompts moved us closer to our revival theme: Rekindling HOPE, Sharing LIGHT, Loving JESUS. This Facebook Group was so successful that we knew we were ready to launch another, specifically intended to prepare us spiritually for revival.
On the Monday after Pentecost, our diocese began The Bible Challenge, the well-known 365-day deep-dive into the Holy Bible created by the Rev. Marek P. Zabriskie. An inspired voice among us called for us to take this journey as a community of congregations. Our earlier experiment in virtual community told us we were ready. While many are doing The Bible Challenge privately or in small congregational groups, 143 are meeting daily on Facebook to share the experience and reflect on the scriptures of the day. This plunge into the Word of God has effects we cannot yet see, but affirms our identity as people of the story, people who align our narratives with the story of salvation. Research done by RenewalWorks™, a ministry founded by the Rev. Jay Sidebotham, emphasizes the importance of Holy Scripture in the spiritual health of the community. Thanks to our Episcopal revival, we are charting that course together.
[Learn more about the Western Massachusetts Revival here.]
The Word moves us to action. Our revival team in Worcester spent considerable time with the question, “What needs to be revived in Worcester?” Worcester is a beautiful city—a college town, home of the arts, a great place to be from. Worcester is also, like most cities, impacted by poverty and addiction. We have a community-based ministry on Main Street called Walking Together. It’s a storefront in the most desperate block in the city where all are welcome and 12-Step groups meet regularly. With this neighborhood in mind, the Worcester team decided it was time to reclaim Fuller Park – a small patch of public green space that has become the dumping ground for the dangerous detritus of the disease of addiction. On revival Sunday morning, a group of adult volunteers will clear the park of syringes and garbage. The space will be prayed over and blessed for the family festival that will happen from 2:00 – 4:00 pm. Pizza, games, music – Fuller Park will become a space for families again. Then, at 4:00 pm, the Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers will arrive to give a word to the Church gathered there. The procession to the Hanover Theater – the site of revival – will begin at 4:30 pm. The Word leads us to action. Action leads us back to the Word.
The Rev. Vicki Ix
Communications Director | Missioner