Over the next couple of weeks, we will be sharing a number of stories of churches whose life together embodies some facet of Slow Church. We hope these stories will stretch your imagination about what a Slow Church looks like.
Previous Story: Munsey Memorial United Methodist Church
Located in Norwood, an incorporated township that is surrounded by the city of Cincinnati, Vineyard Central (VC) has been cultivating a presence in the few blocks near their church building. In the 1990’s, VC once found themselves without a building to meet in, and in the aftermath of that, established their identity as a cooperative network of housechurches. Eventually, they had the opportunity to buy a stunning turn of the 20th century Catholic church building, which came with the adjacent priest’s house and a former convent. This site has become the locus of their church community. They have worked to turn the space in front of the church building into a public piazza on which dinners and other festivities are held. Over the last decade VC has found that more and more of its members are settling into the neighborhood in the immediate vicinity of the church building.
Cincinnati’s Vineyard Central is one church that has longstanding practices of expressing gratitude by blessing and affirming its members. When new members join the church, others in the church bless the new members and commission them to live into the fullness of the congregation’s membership covenant. Recently, the church has been inviting their children to offer a blessing, a prayer or another piece of food to each member after they partake of the elements of Communion. “Having the children serve and bless adults in this extended Eucharist feast,” says pastor Joshua Stoxen, “has been a joyful and tangible reminder of what it means to humbly receive the Kingdom as little children.” This practice is not only a blessing to the adult members of the church, it is a compelling expression of gratitude for the children in the congregation, who are not marginalized but rather encouraged to participate.