FRAMINGHAM, MA -- Last fall, Edwards Church held a “Day of Spirit,” in which people were invited to experience a variety of opportunities for spiritual renewal: meditation, yoga, art, music. The positive response from the wider community pointed to a strong spiritual yearning among non-church-going residents in the area. Out of this and other similar experiences, a collaborative of churches, clergy, and musicians has formed to offer a new kind of worship opportunity in the Framingham area.
Beginning on March 1, OpenSpirit is offering a weekly, Sunday evening worship gathering, held in the Black Box Theatre of the Performing Arts Center in Framingham. Music, particularly jazz, is a central part of the worship service, as are other forms of creative arts. While the worship has Christian roots, the services draw upon spiritual insights and practices from a variety of traditions.
The gatherings include poetry, story, dialog between word and music, and communion, offered in a way that opens the sacrament to those who have felt excluded in the past. The worship does not have a “traditional” feel, but draws upon the best of our tradition.
This gathering provides an opportunity for spiritual nurture and community for folks who have not found more traditional worship services meaningful, or who have had previous negative experiences that keep them away from church.
The OpenSpirit collaborative includes: Rev. Dr. Deborah L. Clark, pastor of Edwards Church, UCC, in Framingham; Rev. Victoria Guest, pastor of First Congregational Church, UCC, in Natick, Massachusetts, Rev. Andrea Castner Wyatt, Pastor and Chaplain to AseraCare Hospice of Boston, Rev. Dr. Mark Burrows, professor of History of Christianity at Andover Newton Theological School, and Mr. Willie Sordillo, jazz saxophonist and member of Edwards Church in Framingham. The congregations of Edwards Church and First Congregational Church have offered support and encouragement to this outreach ministry.
Willie Sordillo, the lead musician, has been a professional musician and composer for over 30 years. He has recorded for the Folkways and Flying Fish labels, among others, and toured internationally. He co-initiated and leads the music for a weekly alternative/jazz worship service at Old South Church in Boston, now in its fourth year. He has collaborated in the design and offering of alternative worship services with the Rev. Dr. Mark Burrows and the Rev. Dr. Debbie Clark and has participated in worship with the Rev. Vicky Guest.
Everyone is invited to come to OpenSpirit worship services, which are held every Sunday evening at 7 p.m. in the Black Box Theater of the Performing Arts Center, 140 Pearl Street in Framingham. Music begins at 6:50; be sure to leave some time to park. Parking can be found on neighboring streets and in the Framingham library lot.