In the last several months, our parish has been approached by a number of groups who were looking for places to host meetings and gatherings as the pandemic restrictions allowed them to regather for in-person meetings. In the course of the last seven months, it has meant that we welcomed five new AA or Al-Anon groups to our campus. In fact, we have an AA or Al-Anon group meeting on our campus all but two nights of the week! The recovery ministry at Epiphany is going strong through the ways we have partnered with the different groups now meeting on our campus.
As we have grown in AA groups meeting on our campus, we also began to receive different requests from different types of groups. Each group brings with it different opportunities for our parish to practice the spiritual gift of hospitality as we welcome people from all different walks of life onto our grounds. Our hospitality is most often lived out by providing them access to our campus and to one of the rooms in our buildings. Some folks meet in the education building while others meet in the parish hall. In fact, one group is so large that the only space large enough for them to meet is in the church itself!
A few months ago, though, I received a request that is a bit different. Unity of Tempe, a small congregation that was renting commercial space prior to the pandemic, approached our parish about the possibility of hosting their Sunday morning gatherings on our campus. At first, it seems like this might not be the best fit. After all, Sunday mornings are a bit busy around Epiphany! But, after looking at the spaces we think we will be using over the course of the next year, it began to seem like it might be something we could actually accommodate.
After several months of conversation and discernment together, Church of the Epiphany will be partnering with Unity of Tempe precisely in the same way we partner with AA groups: we will be practicing hospitality by welcoming Unity of Tempe to our campus on Sunday mornings. Unity of Tempe will be using the space that was originally built to be the nursery for our campus. The benefit to Unity is that they have an entrance and exit to a building that is a bit away from the hustle and bustle of our own activities on Sunday mornings. The benefit to our parish is that we have an opportunity to begin growing a new relationship with another congregation in our community. At this point, it is only God who knows what will be able to come from sharing space together and growing in relationship with one another.
As Unity of Tempe prepares to use our campus on Sunday mornings, I am working with our senior warden, Mary O’Grady, to create a strategy for continuing to have a nursery space for families with young children. I will be certain to share more about that as we are able to finalize plans and locations for our nursery space.
In the meantime, please join me in welcoming Unity of Tempe to our campus on Sunday morning beginning August 1, 2021 from 8:30am until 11:30am. I am certain that as we grow in relationship with each other that we will both be transformed and renewed through the power of the Spirit.