We don’t talk much about spirituality on this website, nor, in fact, do we talk much about specific beliefs or faiths around the village, so it is easy to forget that officially, we are a church, and if you don’t believe that, check out our nonprofit documentation.
Which on the surface doesn’t make much sense. Churches have chapels. We don’t have a chapel. Churches have congregations. We don’t have an official one of those, either. Churches also tend to have regular services, and we definitely don’t have those.
Pastor Gabe is a Christian pastor, and Everyone Church is nominally a Christian church. So why doesn’t Everyone Church bear any of the familiar markers of a church? We have never seen anyone pass the hat around here, instead, they give stuff away, and if you don’t believe that, you should look at our gas and propane bills at the end of the month.
So how does a modern church call itself a church if it doesn’t pass the hat?
Furthermore, while there are Christians who live here, there are also atheists, New Agers, agnostics, astrologers and tarot readers, and possibly a Wiccan or two.
So how is this a church?
According to Gabe, it is because we are doing things backward.
Gabe and his fellow church builders, those who prefer to remain in the background, are following (some without realizing it) the advice given by St. Francis in 1221:
“All the Friars … should preach by their deeds.”
So I guess we have friars here now. Some of us are chubby enough.
In an interview with the Christian Standard, Pastor Gabe related:
“The traditional church-planting model—very difficult in the secular Northwest—moves from worship to mission. Church planters typically try to establish a core group of church members who worship together and eventually begin to do service work.
But Eugene is a bit of a graveyard for church plants, Piechowicz said.
So, if that model doesn’t work, try something else. Put mission before worship services.
‘Go in reverse,’ Piechowicz said. ‘Walk this whole pathway backwards.’”
So there you have it. This unusual church is expressing itself by its deeds and letting people connect the dots however they want.
So, it was fairly surprising when there was an actual Easter Service on Easter Sunday. It began almost as an afterthought when Gabe wondered if there was anyone who actually wanted an Easter Service at the village at all. Tentatively it was announced that one of the warehouses would be a makeshift chapel on Sunday for a SHORT! service.
And so tentatively but with hope, it was set up, and we were gratified and surprised to find over twenty people, coming through the warehouse doors, arrived to share in the service.
The service turned out to be accessible to everyone, including the atheists and agnostics who showed up, and was surprisingly intimate, being in a warehouse, and surprisingly reverent, considering the generally irreverent people attending.
Pastor Gabe focussed on something that is frequently missed in grand Easter Ceremonies, the fact that Jesus began it all with the simple act of washing the feet of his apostles, and bidding them do the same, to serve humbly the other people in the world.
Putting this in practice, Gabe washed Sam’s feet, something they must have agreed on beforehand, so nonchalant was Sam about the process. His feet looked suspiciously clean, his nails suspiciously short, and his socks suspiciously odor-free. (Just kidding Sam.)
We shared some reading from the Gospel, and some communion that, it was stressed, wouldn’t be weird white wafers, and turned out to be weird pretzel bites that looked like chestnuts., but tasted like pretzels.
But by this time no one should have been surprised by surprises. Chapel in a warehouse, electric tea candles on the altar, and large turnout of folks looking for something more than shelter, and sharing the space and service with respectful silence as words that they may not even have believed in were spoken. It was a chance for us to come together for something a little different than usual.
Sharing each other’s company outside of the daily routine, respecting the views of Gabe, one of the leaders of the village, being willing to listen. It is a simple and beautiful thing, and as promised it was short, pretty much.
So that was it. Our one religious service ever since we opened our doors. And it wasn’t too bad.
And of course, the Piechowicz family (pronounced pee-hov-itch).