Showing items filed under “April 2016”

Explore God

Explore God is a program that provides credible content for people with spiritual questions and curiosities. The group publishes its content on the website which provides written information and videos. They also use social media, billboards and heavy signage to market the initiative. Several parishes throughout the diocese have offered Explore God programs during the last few years. Here are two vignettes from diocesan priests who participated last year.

By the Rev. Leslie Stewart, Annunciation in Lewisville

The Episcopal Church of the Annunciation had a great time with Explore God. We ran four groups. Two were at the church on Sunday mornings, one for adults and one for teens. One group was held in a member’s home on Tuesday evenings. These were all attended by church members which was an important first step in expanding our culture from being a congregation great at “welcoming” to a congregation moved to “inviting.” The videos were really well done and equipped our members to know how to have a conversation about their faith. It really is as simple as listening to and sharing our experiences.

The most exciting group was the one held in a café on Tuesday evenings. The length of the meetings, about an hour, and the Explore God series timeline of seven weeks was perfect. We started with four or five church members and the owners and staff at the café. The owners were great and let us use the large projection screen the size of a wall, and piped the video sound through the main speakers. They let us advertise on their business website, and allowed us to provide handouts, and hang a flyer on their window. We posted our group on the Explore God site and the Facebook group used by the local community. We were thrilled when someone showed up at that first meeting because they found us on the Explore God site. By week four we were up to fifteen people, five of whom had no affiliation with a church.

This group started to get sticky. By that I mean they started sharing their lives with each other. The members were connected by the Facebook group we set up for them and the group location. They were seeing each other in their own community and sharing what was happening during the week. The Facebook group was also a place where I posted links to the Explore God videos for the week. Members shared poems and prayers that were meaningful to them. By the seventh week, no one wanted the group to end. They were just norming as a solid group, so we decided to continue with the four-week follow-up discussion: Knowing God.

By the end of that time we were starting to perform mission tasks. We adopted an Angel Tree angel from the church. Several of us showed up in support when one of our members received his one-year sobriety chip. We formed a community in just a few weeks. Explore God had a powerful impact on us inside and beyond our church walls.

By the Rev. David Miller, St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Dallas

For seven weeks beginning September 2015, St. Matthew’s Cathedral participated in Explore God. The series included seven weeks of preaching on big questions like, “Is there a God?” "Why is there pain and suffering?” and "Is the Bible Reliable?” These are questions non-Christians often ask when first beginning to explore Christianity. The sermon series included six different preachers (four clergy and three lay). Connected to the sermon series was a discussion group held each week at The Ginger Man Pub in Lakewood. The discussion group, open to non-Christians and Christians alike, served as a way of introducing people to the Explore God series through short video presentations of the topic/question for the evening. The discussion group was an excellent way of easily inviting our guests to come explore what Christianity has to say about life’s most perplexing questions. At the end of the evening, the guests were invited to come to St. Matthew’s the following Sunday to hear a sermon being preached on the same topic/question. 

We also added a component to the Explore God series by inviting Carrie Boren Headington to speak to our adult Sunday School class on related questions we believe are compatible with the series. Questions like, “How do I tell my friend about Jesus?” and "Why does God, who Christians say is Love Itself, allow pain and suffering to exist?” 

The Ginger Man discussion group and Sunday School presentations were well attended and received a good response. And even though no one from our Ginger Man discussion group came to hear the sermon series, we received good feed back from the congregation about the messages preached. 

Explore God is a great tool for evangelism. One that St. Matthew’s is interested in using again.     

Helping Neighbors in Need

Deacon Bonnie Morrill couldn’t believe the devastation just blocks from her house in Rowlett after tornados spiraled through North Texas in December and destroyed hundreds of homes.

She began walking the streets in her collar and ministering to those who had lost every possession, when she happened on a couple and their teenage daughter. “The woman hugged me so tight, I could feel the pain seep out of her,” Morrill said.

The family was in the house when the tornado imploded their home on top of them. They were uninjured but it took rescuers an hour to dig them out. Family members consider themselves lucky to be alive and are grateful to be able to live in a beauty shop they own, even if it’s not ideal.

The daughter, Kayla is a senior in high school and lost her first car in the storm, which had been given to her by her grandmother who wasn’t able to drive anymore. Morrill has been ministering to Kayla and gave her store card and suggested she buy art supplies and a journal to use as a catalyst for healing. “I’m forming relationships with families,” Morrill said. “You can minister to them more fully. These are my neighbors, and it’s important to me that they see continuous caring.”

Morrill, who is a deacon at St. David’s in Garland and at The Gathering, a church for the homeless in Thanks-Giving Square, brought three or four homeless men to the damaged neighborhood so they could volunteer. They hauled bricks, insulation and other debris to help get homes cleaned up for demolition or rebuild. “It shows how they have taken the message of Jesus Christ, that everyone is a neighbor, and that they don’t always have to be on the receiving end,” Morrill said. “They are taking leadership positions and modeling how to serve others, how to serve the world.”

Morrill is also networking with diocesan clergy and with the Garland School District to aid in the cleanup and ministering.

“She’s amazing,” Deacon Rosemary Trei said. “She has really been out there seeing what the needs are and trying to help. She has a heart for reaching out to folks who need someone to walk with.”

“Kayla” by Bonnie Morrill

A solitary figure standing in a doorway that is no more

bricks, rubble, pictures, and history are the landscape

One lonely tear skitters down a lovely cheek as she watches a truck tow

away her prize possession

Her Grandma's car, given to her with the love and hopes grandmothers hold.

A second tear joins the first for a home filled with her history

Her baby bracelet, kindergarten drawings, pictures of senior friends blown to

who knows where

Mom and Dad join her, arms and hearts locked together.

The foundation still stands

God is here

Write your story precious child

Tell of terror, survival and grace

God is here


This blog aims to highlight mission and outreach in EDOD parishes