By Chris Bergeron/DAILY NEWS STAFF
Since 2005, the longtime
After laying the
groundwork last year, Sordillo and four ministers of area churches founded
OpenSpirit, Sunday evening worship services that use music and innovative
practices to stimulate "spiritual growth and fellowship." The second
season continues tonight with a service at the
Performing Arts Center at
Sordillo said, "Our theme for the fall season will be 'Ordinary Miracles."'
Past services, he said, have mixed biblical readings with other ancient scriptures, poetry, chanting, walking meditation through a portable labyrinth and the sharing of food. In the first season, Sordillo prepared waffles on a portable waffle iron and served them to participants.
In addition to Sordillo,
the group's founders include the Rev. Deborah L. Clark, pastor of Edwards
Church, United Church of Christ in Framingham, the Rev. Victoria Guest, pastor
of the First Congregational Church in Natick, the Rev.
Since September 2005,
Sordillo has been musical director for a weekly jazz worship service on
Thursdays at the
Sordillo believes the hour-long gatherings attract people dissatisfied by traditional services who are open to alternative approaches that incorporate music and poetry. A short inaugural season from March to July drew about 30 people to each service, he said.
"There are people looking for spiritual experiences who've been turned off by traditional worship services," said Sordillo. "And there are people who maybe have been involved in traditional worship experiences but are looking for something a little different. They want something a bit more experiential, a little less predictable."
While varying each week,
A member of the United Church of Christ, Sordillo emphasized, "We're not attempting to start a new church."
"We're not trying to proselytize. We're trying to reach people. It's a very unique worship service. It tends to foster going pretty deep within yourself," he said.
During the service, participants sit in a circle to replace a divisive sense of religious hierarchy with feelings of solidarity.
"People who come
expect something different, perhaps something a little edgy. At
A professor of the history of Christianity at Andover Newton Theological School, Burrows said services have so far attracted "a pretty wide range of people of all ages" including some who also attend "traditional" Sunday morning services.
"It's not just about young people hanging out for some kind of hip experience. There are people who are often involved in their own congregation but yearning for something else," he said.
Relaxing recently in his
Growing up in
After majoring in
psychology and elementary education in college, Sordillo taught in an American
Indian school in
After serving 13 years
at the Edwards Church,
"We wanted to provide a location that isn't in a church so they could experience spirituality in a different way," she said.
While past services have
included readings from Jalal ad-Din Rumi and other Sufi mystics,
"For me, part of the impetus was a sense of really deep spiritual yearning in the wider community. I wanted to reach out to that yearning," she said. "Right now we don't know exactly where it's going to lead. We hope to figure that out as we move to address this yearning that's unmet. People who have come say it has mattered in their lives."
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