Identity & Communication Event held on 3-20-2004
"Tell 'em Who You Are!"
Closter Invites the World to Its Dialogue Ministry
We use a number of low-impact, relatively inexpensive (i.e., free) means to communicate the ministries of First Congregational Church of Closter to the public.
Most of our ministries are specific to First Congregational Church (i.e., held in Closter). Our Wisdom’s Light ministry is intended to spread over the whole state. Currently sessions are held in Closter and Westfield. These are dialogues in the relationship of religion and science and how their interaction enriches are faith. Sessions have been held also in Woodbridge, Toms River, Willingsboro, and Fordham. Check out the Wisdom’s Light web site at http://wislit.home.att.net and e-mail if you are interested. If you are not interested, talk to me – to find out what you are missing.
Why do we advertise our ministries?
We are an intentionally open-spirited, open-minded, open-hearted congregation of seekers. That translates to an environment of continuing dialogue among ourselves and God as each one of us seek out God in our lives. We are an adult community offering adults the opportunity to be as they are in their seeking and find support in their seeking. The Spirit speaks through the community and in our on-going dialogues, she comes to each of us. We agree to disagree, but encourage everyone to raise issues, opinions, and ideas. From these each individual can take what seems most congruent with their spiritual journey. I, the pastor, frame a sermon or a discussion for background, issues, my thoughts, etc. and then invite the congregation (in good congregational tradition) to enter into dialogue. We are not afraid of contrary opinions! We want to invite the pubic into this on-going dialogue, believing that it is one of the richest ways to deepen spiritual living and offers a better outlook on life in general.
We hope that people who answer are call will find a spiritually enriching experience and will return to continue the dialogue!
Communicating this dialogue:
As can be seen from my opening commercial for Wisdom’s Light, we take every opportunity to advertise free.
We advertise both our Sunday morning services and our Wednesday evening services using press releases to the local free press, the Suburbanite and the Press Journal. (See sample, attached.)
The Wednesday evening programs are topical: religion and science (Wisdom’s Light), spiritual topics (such as gnosticism), and faith and public affairs. The press release clearly states what will be discussed with the questions addressed (but not the answers!), that a dialogue will ensue, and that all faiths are invited. Boilerplate on the press release includes a mission statement for the church and e-mail and web site: and http://fcclostr.home.att.net or and http://wislit.home.att.net for the Wisdom’s Light ministry (religion and science). In the case of the Wisdom’s Light ministry, Westfield sessions are similarly advertised in Westfield papers: the Suburban, the Westfield Leader, and the Westfield Record Press.
We also advertise in church newsletters. Closter sessions are shared with Haworth and put in their newsletter (see sample). Westfield sessions are included in the Westfield newsletter and Sunday bulletins. (Westfield sessions are held on Tuesdays.) These notices are similar to the press releases but whereas the press releases are in the 3rd person, these are in the 2nd person (more personal).
Between these two we have drawn folks from the public into our evening sessions. Attendance ranges from 6 to a 12 (once as much as 30!), with half or more being non-church members. Many are repeats.
We maintain e-mail lists of all participants. These lists receive regular reminders and updates. From time to time interesting information about a topic is shared via the lists. These reminders help to keep the momentum moving.
We also maintain web sites. But these are more background. Web sites are passive – someone has to go looking for them. They are encountered when a web surfer happens to run into them or have seen a reference to them (such as in the press release). No one has come to us by only reading a web site.
Our Sunday morning services are similarly advertised. Some folks have responded, but the response rate is not as high. We are looking for ways to increase the affect of our Sunday service advertising.
We have tried paid ads. We have never received any response to them, except for the case of our well-known annual White Elephant Sale.
From time to time I have written editorials for the Faith and Values section of the Bergen Record. These have been on such topics as gay marriage and Christian pacifism. We have on occasion received a response to these.
--John A. Mills
Wisdom Light newsletter notice:
Is the Resurrection Real?
You are invited to an Adult Education program on Is the Resurrection Real and how does that jive with our current scientific understandings? We will gather at 7:30 PM on April 14, Wednesday at First Congregational Church of Closter. We celebrate on Easter Sunday Christ's Resurrection. Our tradition teaches that Jesus was bodily raised from the dead, walked among us, and ascended into heaven. In our modern scientific world how do we explain this event? Can we only see it as a metaphor of spiritual re-birth or can we understand it more physical terms? Does Jesus really, physically still walk among us?
To answer these questions we will turn to Relational Theology to understand how incarnation and resurrection can be understood in a contemporary meaningful way. Relational Theology views the reality of the universe and God as thoroughly interdependent in all time and all space. All of creation, human and non-human, and God are interdependent in a dynamic process of growth and evolution from a less perfect state to a more perfect state. Further, each and every person and creature includes to smaller or greater degree every other person in all space and time. We are not detached from those who came before us and those who will follow us. This theology arose from Whitehead's philosophy in the 20th century and is thoroughly rooted in evolution, quantum mechanics and the interconnectedness of everything. This modern theology provides an interdependent and incarnational basis that allows us to look at many faith traditions with fresh and 21st century eyes.
All are welcomed! The sessions will be facilitated by Rev. John A. Mills, pastor of First Congregational Church of Closter.
Sunday Service press release:
Church To Offer Friendly Personal Worship
The public is invited to Lenten services at First Congregational Church in Closter at 10:30 each Sunday. The services will provide friendly, personal worship in a small congregational setting. In a supportive and accepting faith community, worshippers will have the opportunity to seek God. The sermons, preached by the Rev. John Mills, pastor of First Congregational Church, will relate scripture and Christian tradition to worshippers' everyday lives and intentionally guide listeners to find the reality of God in their lives and the world around them. During this season of Lent, worshippers will be asked to discover the uniqueness of a faith community's acceptance, forgiveness, and spirituality in a world of blame, prejudice and materialism. The services will include congregational prayers, hymn singing, and the unlighting of the Lenten candles. Various forums, including wellness activities and bible studies, will be offered after services.
The church is located at the corner of Harrington Ave. and West St. in Closter, NJ. The Sanctuary and social hall are wheel-chair accessible.
First Congregational is a believing community for seekers who are looking for adult educational and worship opportunities to explore their faith with an open-minded, open-hearted, and open-spirited group. It is committed to being an enlightened, open and affirming church that welcomes all people whatever their age, ethnic background, gender, physical or mental abilities, or sexual orientation into the full life and ministry of the congregation and seeks to help each person find his or her own way to God that is meaningful to them in the 21st century. Please call the church at (201) 768-7285 or send e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org to register. There is no registration fee. The church may be visited on the internet at http//fcclostr.home.att.net.
How can science contribute to your spirituality?
How can science and religion work together to address our life issues?
The Wisdom’s Light Ministry
A ministry of lay dialogs in the positive relationship of science and religion
Offers you the opportunity to explore science in a religious context.
Address such questions as:
· Is stem cell research moral?
· Is the resurrection real?
· Are humans wired for God?
· Can God be found on the Internet?
Single sessions and 3- and 4- session series available
Call or e-mail Rev. John A. Mills
to discuss topics, times, and fees
at 908 322 0017 /
Visit Wisdom’s Light at http://wislit.home.att.net