Small Group Ministries at East Church
Sunday morning worship service at East Church is a warm experience and a meaningful time to worship collectively, which we feel is vital to nourishing a community. But we know that all the diverse personal and spiritual needs of individuals within a faith community can’t be fully met in a few hours one morning a week.
For that reason, several focused small group ministries flourish at East Church. The intention of these groups is not to provide an alternative to the more structured Sunday morning service but rather to expand on and enrich that experience, and to provide opportunities to explore specific topics in depth. Several of our small group ministries are described on this page, including the Prayer Shawl group, the Healing Prayer Ministry, the Women’s Society and the Lectionary Study group.
Healing and Prayer Group ministry
The Healing Prayer Group Ministry meets on the second Monday of each month in the Chapel at 2:30 PM. This lay-led service of healing prayer is usually attended by six to twelve people and lasts for about an hour.
We gather in a circle and people share the names of persons for whom they would like to have prayer offered. We have a liturgy of healing responsive readings, using song and silence and a time when all the names mentioned are intentionally lifted up for healing. Prayer is offered for those in need of emotional, physical, mental, relational, or spiritual healing.
For those who request, we offer a “laying on of hands” prayer circle. What is that like? A person sits in a chair in the middle of the circle and people gather to put their hands on that person in a spirit of caring love. At times the person is asking for healing for themselves and, at other times, a person will sit in the circle on behalf of another person.
We gather once a month to focus our intention to pray for ourselves and others. As one member of the group has so expressively stated, “Every time I come to this healing service, I leave feeling better.” Come and join us when you can.
Prayer Shawl group
The Prayer Shawl group meets from 11:30-12:30 the fourth Sunday of the month except in July and August. A prayer shawl is a knitted or crocheted shawl/blanket designed to be a tangible sign of God’s love and the prayer of our community. Shawls are given at a time in someone’s life when prayers would be welcomed: an illness, loss, or transition: birth of a baby or wedding, or other situations. The purpose of the prayer shawl group is to provide these shawls and also fellowship for the people creating the shawls. Some tiny blankets are made for infants in the hospital, distributed by the hospital chaplain. Shawls are given away by our ministers or members of our congregation when a need arises. Shawls have been given to both members and non-members. Each shawl has been blessed by the group and gift wrapped, and is given with a copy of the prayer. Knitters of all abilities are encouraged to join the group: some have learned to knit by coming to our group. We keep a stock of yarn at the church and can provide needles as well. The group is a small, intergenerational one, with a warm and friendly atmosphere. Currently we have given away 85 shawls in the years since the group was founded.
Following is an example of a prayer which is packed along with a shawl:
May God’s grace be upon this shawl…
warming, comforting, enfolding and embracing.
May this mantle be a safe haven, a sacred place of
security and well-being, sustaining and embracing
in good times as well as difficult ones.
May the one who receives this shawl be
cradled in hope,
kept in joy,
graced with peace,
and wrapped in love,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Women of East Church and other congregations in Milton and surrounding communities are invited to gather together five Tuesdays throughout the year at noon in the Parlor for a brown-bag lunch, conversation, a business meeting and a program of interest. Check the East Church Calendar for dates and a description of the speaker or special event.
Lectionary Study group
Wikipedia defines a lectionary as a collection of scripture readings appointed for Christian worship on a given day. The “Common Lectionary” is a lectionary supported by and distributed among many denominations. That means on any given day many people in many congregations and denominations are reading and meditating on the same scripture readings. A good source for the Common Lectionary is available on-line from the Vanderbilt Divinity School
Not all preachers choose to base their sermon on the Common Lectionary, but it is the practice at East Church. A group of Bible students meets on Sunday morning (except during the summer months) with one of the Pastors in the Church parlor at 8:30 to explore and discuss the day’s lectionary readings. It is both a directed way to approach studying the Bible itself and it brings a deeper appreciation for the sermon. Please note: the meetings are irregular. If you are interested in participating, please notify the Church Office of your interest, ask when the next meeting is, and ask to be added to the Commentary mailing (see below).
There are no requirements or restrictions for participating in this group. Those who have expressed an interest to the Church office receive (by email) the scripture references as well as a commentary on select passages. The participants have an opportunity to read and reflect on the readings and then come together to explore the meaning and background and nuance of the material