Innovations in being a church

Item 1:

Every Sunday morning, a pickup truck quietly pulls up to the front door of a middle school just east of Leesburg [Virginia, Diocese of Virginia].

Soon, more early risers arrive and begin unpacking the trailer attached to the truck. Large wooden contraptions – giant boxes with wheels – roll down the trailer’s ramp and into the school.

All is abuzz as people unpack the boxes, transforming Belmont Ridge Middle School’s auditorium into St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Church.

I am an active member of this church – a fact that a few years ago would have surprised me. Though I grew up going to an Episcopal church, religion always seemed impenetrable and forbidding.

A friend mentioned Jeunee Cunningham, pastor of St. Gabriel’s, and had only positive things to say about her. So I e-mailed her.

Jeunee replied immediately. Probably sensing my trepidation, she set me at ease by telling me that she and her husband didn’t belong to a church when they got married. They attended a service at an Episcopal church they liked and said, “Hey – let’s get married there!”

Item 2:

Ostlund has lived in Loxahatchee for eight months.

The Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida recognized the growth of the western communities and anticipated the establishment of the Callery-Judge Grove community, so it committed her to the area to establish a ministry.

She is living in a home bought by the church that also serves as her office and meeting space for the congregation.

A group she calls The 15:58 is helping her to get a church established in the community. “They are named after Corinthians 15:58,” Ostlund said. “Basically, the Scripture says that if you keep working, your work will pay off.”

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