Written by Connie Larkman
Need a spiritual lift in the midst of a busy day?As of last Thursday Feb. 7, you can find one at your fingertips on UCC. org. The United Church of Christ's new 'Feed Your Spirit' page debuts this week, offering readers a new variety of ways to add faith and God to everyday life.
The page was retooled to coincide with the initial redesign of several UCC.org pages, with contributions from a group of nine UCC leaders under 40 from around the country. They form the Feed Your Spirit Writers' Group, coming together to discuss what they found helpful in their own faith lives, what kinds of resources they were drawn to and what they heard members of their congregations were looking for. The group developed the new resources with the goal of creating a new spiritually oriented webpage that is interactive, with practical ideas and theological depth.
"We wanted a page that would be beautiful and engaging, as well as help people in their spiritual development," said the Rev. Quinn G. Caldwell, pastor of Plymouth Congregational UCC in Syracuse, N.Y. "We wanted it to be deep but also fun, dealing with serious content while not taking itself seriously. "The group looked at a lot of existing websites for inspiration and ideas, in an effort to come up with a variety of content that could be used by devout Christians, "seekers," and even non-believers.
Elements that will be found on the page:
•StillSpeaking Daily Devotional — the original Daily Devotional now in its 6th year.
•Spiritual 8-Ball — ask it a yes or no question, get a scriptural answer; new answers rotated in quarterly.
•Peek, Ponder, Pray — a new photo, 2-sentence reflection, and prayer every day.
•Praying the News — twice weekly, brief commentary on current news story, including popular culture and sports, with link to the story and a prayer.
•Spiritual Practices — brief, easy instructions on practices like Lectio Divina, Tibetan Prayer Flags, Fasting, Keeping Shabbat, Prayer beads, the Jesus Prayer, Midrash, and more.
•Which Bible Character Are You? — Interactive quiz that tells you who you most resemble from the Bible and gives you a follow-up bit of advice.
•Dear Theo — an advice column with new readers' questions weekly.
'Dear Theo' will be written anonymously by three UCC ministers of different ages and backgrounds, who are eager to address questions that span all kinds of topics:from sexuality and relationships to church culture and conflict, to mental health, family drama, ethical and moral dilemmas, and everything in between. A new letter and response will be published every week.
"We're hoping the answers will actually be helpful, like Dear Abby but hopefully funnier and with some irreverence. There is nothing off limits," said 'Theo'. The advice columnist is looking forward to hearing from anyone looking for answers to their spiritual and life questions and problems – and all identities will be kept confidential. Writers can send their letters to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Christina Villa, Director of Marketing - Communications, is the editor of the page. "All of the contents of this new page were dreamed up by a group of very creative, hard-working younger pastors who will continue to write the content as we go forward. The UCC is really lucky and blessed to have such talented people willing to dedicate their time and imagination to this project. "
The revamped Feed Your Spirit page "will be the only denominational web site that offers resources for individuals (as opposed to congregations) to use in their individual spiritual growth and Christian development," said Caldwell."We wanted to support current UCCers in their formation, tend to those who aren't close enough to a UCC church to attend, and offer to seekers a meaningful invitation into life with God. "
"We hope that readers will take away a sense that the UCC cares for them and their formation," Caldwell said."We hope they'll receive insights into themselves, the church, and God. We hope they'll come away convinced that laughter and beauty are vital parts of the Christian life. Mostly, we hope that for once they'll not regret the hour they just spent mucking about on a website!"