After extensive conversations with lay leaders across all the vibrant facets of our life together and in response to steadily-increasing challenges to our weekly Wednesday night gatherings, First on Fifth will shift our Wednesday night rhythms and move away from a weekly dinner and faith formation for all ages.

Earlier this month on January 8, our staff and leaders whose roles directly interface with our Wednesday nights met and identified what is most meaningful (and maddening!) about our weekly gatherings. Together as staff, outgoing and incoming deacon officers and personnel chairs, co-chairs of ministry teams for children, youth, adults, seniors, music and arts, Wednesday meals, and children’s choir leaders, we shared our deep love of the fruitful fellowship and relationship-building that occurs on Wednesdays. We identified all that has been added to our church’s schedule — everything from new missions opportunities for all ages to several adult study groups, children’s ministry events to mini-grants — even while keeping Wednesdays steady. We all named a yearning for continued cultivation of these relationships with one another, trying intentionally to slow down and lean towards a new invitation.

These conversations together have illuminated a broad sense of what we all have seen, heard, felt, and experienced on Wednesday nights each week. On the one hand, we are experiencing areas of our midweek gathering that are flourishing with clear, sustained engagement week in and week out. But on the other, we’re also experiencing the myriad of challenges facing our gathering at that time and day — increasingly busy schedules for all of us, terrible downtown traffic with the Business 40 closures, exhaustion and overwhelm that highlights the need for less-programmed spaces for all ages, unpredictable attendance patterns, and a wondering about how best to allocate our church’s time and energy, to name a few.

Thus, Wednesdays at First on Fifth will remain an active piece of our midweek life together, and will continue to see groups gathering at the church house throughout the day for relationship-building and study. Our building will be open, but staff-led programming will be limited. Here’s how these shifts will affect each component of our current Wednesday schedule:

Wednesday meals — First on Fifth will no longer provide a meal each week. Meals will be provided on special occasions (e.g. on Ash Wednesday, or together with a Quarterly Church Conference, etc.), and full notice will be given in advance through all our regular communication channels.

Children’s Ministry — Our leaders within children’s ministry and music ministry will continue their conversations about how to best attend to the ongoing formation of our children, and will use the next several months to evaluate any potential addition or structural change to our weekly rhythm. In the meantime, be on the lookout for a number of new opportunities to strengthen the spiritual lives of our kids in worship, missions, and fellowship! For more information, please contact Amy McClure (amcclure@firstonfifth.org)

Youth Ministry — Our youth will continue to gather each week, mostly in homes of our youth. Their Wednesday night time will be spent in fellowship with each other and preparing for our youth-led worship on June 7. For more information, please contact Kim Towles (kimtowles@gmail.com).

Music Ministry — Wednesday rehearsals for Adult Handbells (6:00-7:00pm) and Sanctuary Choir (7:15-8:30pm) will continue each week without interruption. For more information, please contact David Williamson (dwilliamson@firstonfifth.org)

Adult Ministry — In place of a staff-led large group time of faith formation each week, all adults in the congregation are encouraged to imagine how this midweek time might be spent in ways meaningfully to you. Might you feel called to lead or guide a small group study for a short period of time? Might your committee or team want to use Wednesday nights as a meeting time, particularly in collaboration with other committees or teams? Might you gather with others to dream of an Innovation for Ministry Fund mini-grant? Might you simply grab a meal and come to share it together with fellow adults in the joy of simple conversation? Just imagine what could emerge! If you have questions on how to start a new group or how to utilize this midweek space for a ministry idea, contact Brent Greene (bgreene@firstonfifth.org).

Common Table Bible Study (Wednesdays, 12:00-1:15pm, led by Pastor Emily) will continue with its seasonal rhythm of study. We begin a 9-week study (February 12 – April 8) of Rachel Held Evans’ book, Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again. For more information, contact Emily Hull McGee (ehullmcgee@firstonfifth.org).

If you are an adult interested in small group study, please remember that there are a number of groups who meet at the church house on Sunday mornings (9:15-10:15am), as well groups throughout the week — particularly the early morning study with David Williamson (Tuesdays, 6:45-7:30am) and the Tuesday night small group led by Sheree Jones (every other Tuesday, 7:00pm). Contact Brent Greene for more information.

As we’ve done in the past, each related ministry team and committee will offer their assessment of this new rhythm in natural points of pause (e.g. summer). And in all things, we give thanks for the God who unites us in love through all the changing seasons of our life together!

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