Growing Deeper
Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second [greatest commandment] is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."
~ Mark 12.30-31

How do we grow deeper with God?

We grow deeper with God and others through:
  • Worship -- It’s both communal and personal: Ascribing worth-ship to God 
  • Scripture -- God’s word is alive and always new. We spend time with scripture, both Old and New Testaments, to be shaped
  • Spiritual Practices -- Sometimes called “disciplines,” these practices – like prayer, rest (keeping sabbath), gratitude, service – open our lives to God’s forming
  • Community -- Throughout scripture, God calls people into community. In community we are encouraged and challenged, nurtured and sent – ultimately to be agents of blessing, justice, and grace to the surrounding world
  • Self-Awareness -- If it sounds like pop spirituality, think again. Jesus integrates “self” within each call of Mark 12.30-31 (loving God with all of one's self-ness and loving the neighbor as self) – and one cannot love what one does not know. Even Reformer John Calvin recognizes the “Connection Between the Knowledge of God and the Knowledge of Ourselves” (Institutes of the Christian Religion, Vol. I, 1). Each understanding informs the other as we grow in awareness of God and self.

Ways We're Growing Deeper

Some Practices from Our History
Promoted Six-Word Stories to celebrate 6 years of ministry for Hope. The winning entry, submitted by Freddy V: "Where there is Hope, Love abides." Runner-up, Diane T. wrote of life at Hope: "Warmth when the world feels cold."

Several attended screening of the documentary Out of Order at Park Lake Pres, engaging conversation about LGBTQ men and women exploring prospective calls in the church.
Growing Deeper in relationship with each othervia service actions, shared meals, social gatherings and field trips ... with friendships to promote racial healing: especially through our friendship with Washington Shores Presbyterian, the only predominantly African-American church in our Presbytery. We hosted Washington Shores for World Communion Sunday on 10/1; shared a field trip to the Harry T. and Harriett V. Moore Cultural Complex, honoring Civil Rights advocates murdered by the KKK, followed by lunch and discussion; engaged in a book study on America's Original Sin together; and Nancy and Rev. Erika Rembert Smith co-preached at the June 2017 Presbytery meeting.
Sacraments -- Shared communion on the first Sunday of each month and on Christmas Eve; and formally welcomed three children into the family of God via baptism on 9/30. The baptisms took place in a family swimming pool with worship led by Nancy and the Hope Pres worship band, commitments made by the parents, and baptism officiated by Nancy with assistance from Russ Kraft.
Spiritual Practices -- Prayer: Including Re:Fresh, Summer of Prayer Experiments, providing 15 ancient and contemporary tools to enhance our personal prayer lives; Tammy Strogis led an August seminar on "Praying in Color" for the Presbytery's Fresh Ideas Start Here (FISH) ... Study: Weekly Dig Deeper Sunday School for all ages; Fall Bible Doing reflecting on Philip Yancey's book Vanishing Grace; summer Vacation Bible School for elementary school students  ... Gratitude: Invited a regular gratitude journal for a month.
Worship & Community -- hosted the quarterly stated meeting of Central Florida Presbytery (a big deal!) at Wycliffe Discovery Center, with our worship band leading music, Nancy and Rev. Erika Rembert Smith of Washington Shores co-preaching a dialogue sermon, and members of the Hope family coordinating dinner from Sweet Mama's & desserts by Hopesters and serving as gracious hosts.
Coffee House Worship  -- Welcoming the gifts of all, shared through music, poetry, photography, storytelling, dance, readings and scripture. Hopesters brought folding tables, table cloths, centerpieces and snacks to share, and our hospitality team served Coffee Against Human Trafficking (sales of which benefits the Lifeboat Project in Orlando).
Lenten Communities -- 1) Journey through the Psalms during Lent and interacting via a digital community board. 33 Hopesters participated in this virtual community -- reading through all 150 Psalms during the 40 days of Lent; and  2) Shared Book Club with Washington Shores Presbyterian on America's Original Sin

Bible Doing -- Body By God by Dr. Ben Lerner -- designing a healthier lifestyle through food choices, exercise, time management and stress management.
In 2016
Personal Prayer Experiments -- 'Praying the Hours' in line with ancient Christian practice, drawing from patterns identified in Macrina Wiederkehr's book Seven Sacred Pauses ... Experiments began the week of 2/7 with Vigils/The Night Watch, rising from sleep between midnight and dawn to present ourselves to God and to stand in solidarity with all who are suffering ... The week beginning 2/14 we moved to Lauds/The Awakening Hour, meeting God at the dawn of day to remember God's covenant love and invite God on our journey ...
2016 03 Vespers Twilight Rituals.pdf
click to download
2016 03 Noon Prayer for Peace.pdf
click to download
2016 02 Suggestions for Midmorning Prayer.pdf
click to download
2016 02 14 Morning Prayer.pdf
click to download
2016 02 Guide to the Night Watch or Vigils_1.pdf
click to download
Lenten Virtual Communities -- 1) blog and face-to-face reflections on Clarence Jordan's The Cotton Patch Gospel and 2) The Field of Faith, a blog reflecting on biblical themes through the lens of baseball.
Special Services -- 'Traveling' Ash Wednesday service at Hickory Hammock Clubhouse in Winter Garden on 2/10; welcoming guest musicians for Taize worship, suspending our ordinary order of service for a contemplative God-encounter.
Growing in Connection with Others -- 4th Birthday potluck + 2015 Ministry Review and 2016 Preview
Praying over Written Desires to Grow Deeper and Reach Wider in 2016
Epiphany Star Words -- drawing throughout January from a set of 150 biblically themed words for a 'star gift' word, used as a lens through which to consider the upcoming year's connection with God.
'Lose 10/Give 10/Share 10' -- acting with intentionality to 'lose 10' things (simplify); 'give 10' things (invest dollars, minutes, etc.); or 'share 10' things (for charity) with those in need. Lines may blur between the areas and '10' is symbolic of showing intentionality and some measure of cost or effort.
In 2015 ...
In home gatherings to connect and grow deeper -- including Potluck Supper & Movie Night on 8/30 at the Eckhoff home for the movie Wall-E and discussion about personal connections, earth care, responsibility,  and trust .... 
Summer Book Clubs -- Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence on 7/28 and Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate on 8/18
28-Day Challenge to read the 28 chapters of Matthew -- from Sunday 8/3 until the end of the month
Summer Brunches -- Three summer potlucks after worship -- a 'Hot & Cold Smackdown' on 6/28, breakfast theme on 7/19 and 'Slavik -- Starts with a Consonant' theme on 8/16.
Daily Prayers for Healing among the Races -- Following the racially motivated murder of nine African-American worshipers at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC in June, Hope signed a card with prayers and support and prayed daily at noon through July for the people of Emanuel as well as for justice, peace and healing among all races.
Vacation Bible School -- hosted 23 children from Hope and St. Cloud Pres and their friends at Wycliffe Discovery Center for a 2-day VBS, 6/11-6/12.
Lenten Gatherings -- 1) in-home Supper & Film Study using The Passion of the Christ plus two Virtual Communities: 2) Hashtag Project, posting images related to seven Lenten themes; and 3) Earth Care, using the free app Joulebug to track personal and combined efforts to better steward the planet.
Heard personal faith stories from members of the congregation -- including Heather Ramsier, Bill Strogis, Christina Ganley & Gloria-Ann Ford
Men's Campfire -- connecting on 1/31 over food and lakeside campfire
To Kill a Mockingbird Stage Production -- Nearly 30 member of the Hope family saw the Orlando Shakespeare Theater production on 1/30 as part of our One Book: One Hope focus on the book. Fourteen gathered for supper beforehand.
Welcomed guest preachers to our pulpit: including Rev. Pamela Masten (7/29); Rev. Steve Graves (2/8 and 7/5); Pastor Hugh Lackey (6/14).
Mid-Week Bible Doing -- featuring Animate: Faith conversations in the Winter and a challenge to learn our Spiritual Temperaments in the Spring. 
Verse of the Month -- We weekly voice together a pre-selected verse from scripture. One Sunday during the month a member of the congregation offers deeper reflections on the verse
Epiphany 'Star Gifts' -- Word for reflection throughout the year
Celebrated the sacrament of baptism -- for Axel Kuzman (3/15) and Hanna Perry (9/13)
Monthly communion

Daily prayer at noon for Hope

Weekly Sunday School for all ages 

Weekly worship
In 2014 ...
Advent Devotionals for each family, published by Society of St. Andrew
Offered free 1-year subscriptions to the magazine Presbyterians Today ($25 value).
Women's Retreat, "Finish Then Thy New Creation," at San Pedro Center 9/12-13, led by Rev. Dr. Helen DeBevoise.
Launched "One Book, One Hope" centering on the intersections of life and faith -- building from the 1961 Pulitzer Prize winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird. Included in-home screenings of the film (one with book-themed potluck meal) and a trip to the Holocaust Memorial in Maitland on 11/9 for a free exhibit on racism entitled, "Hateful Things"
Celebrated the sacrament of baptism -- for Christopher Kellough (8/31) and Eloise Hope Kellough (8/31); Jacob Dodge (10/19); Bethan Evans (11/2) and Lucas Bates (11/2)
Conducted "Remembering the Saints" service as part of All Saints Sunday on 11/2
Providing a September Calendar for Prayer and Action from Society of St. Andrew, with daily scriptures and invitations to combat hunger.
Hawaiian-themed worship on 8/24, That 70s Worship on 11/16 (featuring classic praise songs and hymns) and Lessons & Carols on 12/14
Provided greatly discounted copies of the Word of Promise audio New Testament -- a 'radio theater' presentation of scripture
Heard personal faith stories from members of the congregation -- including Danielle Connor, Marcy Kraft & Sarah Allen
Enjoyed fun events to help us connect more deeply: Men's Gathering for lunch and the first Sunday of NFL at Nona Tap Room (9/7); RunNona at Night 5K with more than 20 of all ages (11/1); Cookie Tasting & Exchange and Most 'Interesting' Christmas Attire contest (12/7)
Welcomed guest preachers to our pulpit: including Rev. Pamela Masten (1/14 and 10/14); Rev. Dr. Patrick Wrisley (2/14); Pastor Hugh Lackey (5/14); Rev. Paul Ogne (7/27); Rev. Ray Jones (8/17); and Mr. Michael Eckhoff (9/28).
Book Club discussion of the book Hardwired: Finding the God You Already Know on 6/17 at Wine House at Lake Nona; for Flesh: Learning to Be Human Like Jesus on 8/26
Relocated worship to the middle school cafeteria, with a trial run on 7/13 preparing for growth
Cheap Books: $1 copies of Following Jesus in a Dot.Com World
First-ever, one-day Vacation Bible School at Moss Park on 6/13; sent participants and volunteers to the VBS of our sister church, St. Cloud Presbyterian
Guidelines for a Good Friday Fast -- with Thursday to Sunday daily devotionals, as published by Society of St. Andrew
Maundy Thursday Service -- 4/17 at Nemours Children's Hospital chapel.
Taize Prayer Service -- Tuesday 3/11 and Tuesday 12/7 at San Pedro Retreat Center

Lenten Virtual Communities -- March to April -- 1) Faith & Film -- watching and reflecting through a theological lens 3 films (Finding Nemo, Blue Like Jazz, The Shawshank Redemption) and 2) Community Bible Experience -- reading/listening to the entire de-formatted New Testament (NIV) in historical order, ~ 10 pages per day, 5 x a week

Lenten Devotionals -- published by Society of St. Andrew

Fun Events to Grow with Each Other -- Birthday BBQ & Bake-off in Jan; Orlando Solar Bears Hockey Game in March; Church-wide picnic in April; Children's Spring Carnival in May; Wiffle Ball Home Run Derby and Baseball & Culture Trivia Contest in July.

Confirmation -- March to May, walking with MidHi and Sr Hi students through basics of Christian faith and life as a Christ-follower
Personal Prayer Challenge -- Feb -- Hope family was invited to pray daily a prayer drawn from 1 Corinthians 3.1-9

Bible Doing -- Jan to April, meeting 2 x monthly on a Tuesday evening to engage a biblical exploration of Global Poverty; Sept to Nov, meeting 2x monthly with the video, discussion & journaling study Animate: Faith.
Verse of the Month -- We weekly voice together a pre-selected verse from scripture. One Sunday during the month a member of the congregation offers deeper reflections on the verse
Epiphany 'Star Gifts' -- Word for reflection throughout the year
"Take It Up a Notch" with Personal Bible Reading ... Committing to invest more fully with scripture in 2014, either on our own or with accountability partners

Monthly communion

Daily prayer at noon for Hope

Weekly Sunday School for all ages

Weekly worship