Twelve-Ketchup Tasting Parties and other plans at Kenilworth Union

When theologian Kate Bowler was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer in 2015 she experienced her lowest lows: loss, pain, worry, uncertainty. With fits and spurts, she has come through thus far and reflects that as she emerged from that intense season of those low lows, she longed to celebrate. Anything. A twelve ketchup tasting party? Sure. If it gets people together, celebrating, yes please. 

The wholesale halt to in-person gathering in spring of 2020 gave Kenilworth Union the unintentional chance to ask the question “why do we gather?” There is something intrinsic about gathering, about being together. Christians are, in a sense, defined by being bound to one another: our life-centered, community-dwelling God desires the well-being of all, and calls us to long for the repair of the world and thriving of each person. But why leave the comfort of home to show up at church? Sometimes it might be for something as seemingly-arbitrary as a twelve-ketchup tasting party, but in reality, the very act of gathering in community is balm in Gilead.

This year, the board and church leadership are taking a look at Adult Engagement. What invitations will adults say “yes” to? We do not want to say “yes” to the futile, pointless, empty, or inconsequential. We know it must be purposeful. And we know it must entail an intentional invitation. You’ll say “yes” if someone you know will be there. Back in January the Board of Trustees and church leaders committed to intentional invitation and we’re celebrating.

What are we celebrating? Board members each took on the job of “captaining” a table for the outreach benefit, and made intentional invitations to fill their tables: attendance was up 35%. Children’s Ministry hosted an Ash Wednesday Soup Supper and made intentional invitations to families: attendance was up 67%. A former board member noticed that many of his peers hadn’t been attending worship the same way as they all had when their children were young: he threw a party and said “let’s be present for one another again.” 

What’s next? Summer is categorically quiet at Kenilworth Union, but we’re still here. Say “yes.” Invite a friend. Worship outdoors. This fall we’ll publish a 6-month calendar you can use to plan ahead and say “yes” early and often. We’ll host a volunteer fair. Next winter we’ll host a service and outreach fair. And we want you to think about what invitation you’d say “yes” to. Maybe you and a friend would like to start a new small group. Maybe you have an idea for a joyful celebration. Maybe there’s a topic you’d like to study with a pastor. Whatever your idea is, we’d love for you to be part of our work of creating meaningful adult engagement in the years ahead.

Tips for planning a meaningful Adult Engagement invitation.

May 30, 2024

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