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The Good Samaritan Community Church Of Sebastopol


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The Good Samaritan Community Church of Sebastopol is above all a people. These days the word "church" is all but synonymous with the word "institution." But for the GSCC folks the word church is more about us than it is about a religious organization. We would like to think we are what the gospel calls the ekklsia (Koni Greek, lit. called out; usually translated church[/i], see Matthew 16:18), the "called out" by Christ.

 

As called out people we feel an inner compulsion to seek for ever more insight about the inner-world meaning of Jesus. Since we believe that Jesus' teachings were trans-religious we are interested in the religious views of others. While we still participate in some Christian traditions, such as communion, scripture, songs and prayer, all areas of our worship are open to participation by all. And we invite people of other faiths, who wish to share their baith with us to do so. The only rule is, that no one is allowed to demand that their way be the only way.

 

The GSCC is a church which has been evolving over the past 35 years. During that time we have grown in both consciousness and relationship. Since relationship presupposes consciousness we are compelled to remain devothed to both. No one can be denied respect, dignity, or equal standing because of thir views on matters of belief. But denigrating behavior and language of other's beliefs, ethnic heritage, color, gender, sexual orientation or religion can be called into question in a respectful way.

 

Since we avoid positions of authority over one another, we do not nave a pastor in the traditional since of the word. Rather, we have a facilitatior, who has the responsibility to keep the conversation and exploration of faith going. Our experience together is an ongoing journey. We are not so much interested in answers as we are in questions, the discovery of deeper understanding, and acceptance of each other's individuality.

 

We do not have any denominational affiliation. The GSCC is an independent group, incorporated as a 501©(3) nonprofit tax-exempt religious corporation. We have a church board to care for our legal and financial obligations. Being that we have no mortgage however, there are very few issues which need their attention. This gives us the opportunity to devote ourselves to people rather than building or financial agendas

 

On Sunday mornings people coming to our gatherings will find a circle of chairs and a cordial welcome from regular participants. Following a brief period of of worship and prayer we begin our conversation on whatever the morning topic happens to be. There is no preaching. But there is time to present questions and share insights, Somethimes somone is our gathering feels wounded by a personal problem or suffering. There is always time in our group conversation to open our ears and hearts to the suffering of others. One of our senior members said it best a number of years ago. when he remarked that "we are Like a hospital for wounded souls."

 

There are no requirements for membership in our church. If you choose to remain with us then you are accepted as a member of our gatherings. If you feel the need to move on for any reason our response will be to give our blessing on your ongoing spiritual journey. As already implied, we don't ask for a tithe. If someone desires to help us financially they can either leave a contribution or mail it to the church office.

 

The focus of the GSCC is always on people first. We meet at 420 Murphy Avenue, Sebastopo,California 95472. We can be reached by phone at: (707)823-8444 (we share the phone with The Covenant Connection)

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Guest billmc

This sounds wonderful, Robert - community and conversation.

 

Are you ready to come to Fort Worth to start an offshoot? :)

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This sounds wonderful, Robert - community and conversation.

 

Are you ready to come to Fort Worth to start an offshoot? :)

 

Thanks for your supportive words. While it's doubtful that will be able to come to Fort Worth (by the way, do you know where Muleshoe is?), I would like to continue a conversation with others who would like to begin their own progressive gatherings. If anyone is interested, you can email me or reply to my post.

 

Blessings, Robert Gutleben

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Guest billmc

(by the way, do you know where Muleshoe is?)

 

No, I don't Robert. But then, I grew up in upstate New York. I'm a "damn Yankee" now.

 

There is actually an "emergent cohort" that meets occasionally in downtown Fort Worth. I visited a couple of times but, to be honest, felt a little strange as everyone there was under 25! They probably wondered what an old fogey like me was doing at such a young-oriented gathering.

 

I would actually love to start a progressive meeting in my area. But most of my friends, even my church friends, are so embedded in religious conservativism that I would feel like I was asking them to join a secret society or something. :D

 

But your gather sounds wonderful. Wish I could come to CA.

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The Good Samaritan Community Church of Sebastopol is above all a people. These days the word "church" is all but synonymous with the word "institution." But for the GSCC folks the word church is more about us than it is about a religious organization. We would like to think we are what the gospel calls the ekklsia (Koni Greek, lit. called out; usually translated church[/i], see Matthew 16:18), the "called out" by Christ.

 

As called out people we feel an inner compulsion to seek for ever more insight about the inner-world meaning of Jesus. Since we believe that Jesus' teachings were trans-religious we are interested in the religious views of others. While we still participate in some Christian traditions, such as communion, scripture, songs and prayer, all areas of our worship are open to participation by all. And we invite people of other faiths, who wish to share their baith with us to do so. The only rule is, that no one is allowed to demand that their way be the only way.

 

The GSCC is a church which has been evolving over the past 35 years. During that time we have grown in both consciousness and relationship. Since relationship presupposes consciousness we are compelled to remain devothed to both. No one can be denied respect, dignity, or equal standing because of thir views on matters of belief. But denigrating behavior and language of other's beliefs, ethnic heritage, color, gender, sexual orientation or religion can be called into question in a respectful way.

 

Since we avoid positions of authority over one another, we do not nave a pastor in the traditional since of the word. Rather, we have a facilitatior, who has the responsibility to keep the conversation and exploration of faith going. Our experience together is an ongoing journey. We are not so much interested in answers as we are in questions, the discovery of deeper understanding, and acceptance of each other's individuality.

 

We do not have any denominational affiliation. The GSCC is an independent group, incorporated as a 501©(3) nonprofit tax-exempt religious corporation. We have a church board to care for our legal and financial obligations. Being that we have no mortgage however, there are very few issues which need their attention. This gives us the opportunity to devote ourselves to people rather than building or financial agendas

 

On Sunday mornings people coming to our gatherings will find a circle of chairs and a cordial welcome from regular participants. Following a brief period of of worship and prayer we begin our conversation on whatever the morning topic happens to be. There is no preaching. But there is time to present questions and share insights, Somethimes somone is our gathering feels wounded by a personal problem or suffering. There is always time in our group conversation to open our ears and hearts to the suffering of others. One of our senior members said it best a number of years ago. when he remarked that "we are Like a hospital for wounded souls."

 

There are no requirements for membership in our church. If you choose to remain with us then you are accepted as a member of our gatherings. If you feel the need to move on for any reason our response will be to give our blessing on your ongoing spiritual journey. As already implied, we don't ask for a tithe. If someone desires to help us financially they can either leave a contribution or mail it to the church office.

 

The focus of the GSCC is always on people first. We meet at 420 Murphy Avenue, Sebastopo,California 95472. We can be reached by phone at: (707)823-8444 (we share the phone with The Covenant Connection)

 

Hello Robert,

I really like what I'm reading, and can see very strong elements of what I'm looking for (and I think many young questioners and seekers) are looking for in a church - or a spiritual community. I was especially impressed by, "we are like a hospital for wounded souls", since that is almost exactly what I suggested in the other thread. :)

I'm on the completely opposite side of the country, but I would definitely check you guys out if I could.

 

Peace to you,

Mike

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No, I don't Robert. But then, I grew up in upstate New York. I'm a "damn Yankee" now.

 

There is actually an "emergent cohort" that meets occasionally in downtown Fort Worth. I visited a couple of times but, to be honest, felt a little strange as everyone there was under 25! They probably wondered what an old fogey like me was doing at such a young-oriented gathering.

 

I would actually love to start a progressive meeting in my area. But most of my friends, even my church friends, are so embedded in religious conservativism that I would feel like I was asking them to join a secret society or something. :D

 

But your gather sounds wonderful. Wish I could come to CA.

 

Well you know Bill, Brian McLaren would be an 'old fogey' too in an emergent cohort. :D

 

I think it would be a great idea for you to try to start a progressive group in your area, if it's something you'd really like to do. Bookstores or libraries in the area would be a good place to advertise and hold a discussion group or book study, or alternatively one could facilitate something through the internet - I just started using meetup.com to organize an eastern philosophy discussion group, and 6 people are signed up to attend.

Just thought I'd make that suggestion, since meeting others who share similar interests and convictions really can be very heartening.

 

Peace to you,

Mike

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Mike, thanks for getting back to me. I wish there were more people in this area who were interested in our church experience. Reflecting on your comments to Bill, I get it that it is difficlut to step into new experiences as you get older. But I must confess that I'm 65, and participants in our weekly church gatherings are both young and old. Mike, I hope you find a gathering that meets your needs. Not would that be great for you, but also great for them. Bill, I also hope you find what you are really looking for.

 

Blessings, Bob the facilitator

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Guest billmc

Just wanted to let everyone know that I am enjoying this conversation.

 

Although, yes, I would love to find (or maybe start) a progressive church in my area, I am for the time being fairly content to be where I am in a small UMC congregation. It is a bit to traditional and liturgical for my "evangelical" tastes (ha ha) but I am loved there just as I am and not told to hold to anything that I don't feel in my heart. For instance, I don't recite the Apostle's Creed nor do I say "Lord, hear our prayer" continuously when the prayer requests are being read. At the same time, if I believe in the truth found in a hymn, I will sing with all my gusto. And a nice side benefit is that I've found my SS to be fairly progressive and the church to be VERY involved in helping the community where we are.

 

But if I ever did feel the urge to start something in my community, I doubt I would want to call it a church. There is almost one on every corner here in Fort Worth. I would must rather host some kind of alternative gathering and encourage people to stay in their "churches" to make and live a difference.

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Bill,

I like the idea of not calling the gathering "church." It is a loaded term. There are a lot of people you could reach by organizing philanthropic activities and encouraging a spiritual journey if you didn't label it church. The only thing is that you would not want to secretly have it be a church, because then people would feel a bait and switch.

 

My UMC is also very active in our community, just not the same group of people that I attend contemporary worship with. That's probably actually a good thing, because it connects me to the larger church when I volunteer, but I feel like worship is all 3: communal devotion and commitment, supporting one another, AND reaching out to make a difference.

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Mike, thanks for getting back to me. I wish there were more people in this area who were interested in our church experience. Reflecting on your comments to Bill, I get it that it is difficlut to step into new experiences as you get older. But I must confess that I'm 65, and participants in our weekly church gatherings are both young and old. Mike, I hope you find a gathering that meets your needs. Not would that be great for you, but also great for them. Bill, I also hope you find what you are really looking for.

 

Blessings, Bob the facilitator

 

Thanks Bob and I wish you and your church success. I think communities that provide authentic spiritual exploration are very much needed in this country. Hopefully they will catch on.

 

Peace to you,

Mike

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