church(ish) was born out of a desire to create an authentic spiritual experience beyond what most traditional religious services offer. Many people have little or no religious affiliation, yet most of us seek to live lives that are spiritually connected with ourselves, each other, and with something bigger than us - whether we call it God/Spirit/Earth/Oprah or other names!
The role of spirituality in our lives can be healing and meaningful - encouraging us in our unique identities and callings, and challenging us to live out what love looks like.
Anyone! We hope to offer a space where no one has to 'fit in' but anyone can belong. Where we can talk and share, and where we don't have to know the rites and rituals before we come. This is not an attempt to be 'cool' or post-modern, rather it embodies our deep belief that people like us and many who are different from us, share the same desire to be personally connected and to transform our world for the better. While some elements like music, reflections, and cultural expressions, may be familiar, you don't need to be church-ey to attend! It's not really church, it's just church-ish. A gathering where we can be vulnerable, authentic, and committed to personal and community transformation.
At this time, no childcare is provided, but we hope with further growth that we can make this available!
church(ish) is led by McDougall United Church's ministry staff, which includes Rev. Joanne Anquist and Family and Spiritual Development Director, Pam Rocker.
Pam Rocker has 15+ years of experience working with faith communities as an advocate, spiritual leader, and comedy junkie.
She is passionate about LGBTQ+ equality, faith, love, and music, and has training in theology, writing and marketing. Pam believes laughter and story are the most powerful tools, that our connection to the arts and creativity are spiritual, and that we all have equal access to experience and live out the faith that is authentic to who we are.
Joanne Anquist is a former lawyer, and current minister and Netflix binge-er. She believes God is present when people are truly human -- when they’re honest with themselves and who they are. Stories often include the good and bad of humanity. They can be unsettling and sometimes even wrong, other times the ancient writings serve as insights to our everyday lives. Joanne is an amazing storyteller and passionate about creating unconventional and authentic experiences.
Other leadership will be provided by another colleague at McDougall United, Tony Snow, our Community Care Coordinator and all around amazing human!
We will have music provided by local musician KP (Kathryn) Smith. We will also have artists, storytellers, and other guests.
This has long been a dream of ours to create this space, and we welcome you to come alongside us with your ideas and questions.
Our faith is rooted in the Christian tradition, with progressive and inclusive theology. Which means - we believe in Jesus and we also fully include and affirm LGBTQ2S identities, people of other faith traditions and varying backgrounds, and won't care whether you wear a bow tie or your favourite sweatpants.
Our theology (the study of the nature of the divine) honours the sacred identities we inhabit and seeks a world where justice, peace, and equality are central to our lives. We also find inspiration from other belief systems and sacred teachings, both ancient and modern.
We love lots of thinkers and dreamers - from Anne Lamott to Richard Rohr to Rumi to Ellen DeGeneres!
We do hope that each person who comes to church-ish knows that they belong, and we trust that everyone will exude this sense of welcome and acceptance to those around them!
This is an evolving adventure, so we, along with those who come, will continue to craft the experience as we go. It will not be fancy, but will strive to be real. With space for arts, music, comedy, food, sacred rituals (silence/prayer/communion/candle lighting), and conversation, we invite anyone and everyone to join us in this new experience with open hearts and curiosity, knowing you are welcome and wanted.
An evolving spirituality means that everything happens along a continuum of spirituality and personal beliefs/ethics. We are ever-growing and changing - why should our spirituality remain static? We want this to be a place where cultural teachings and spiritual understandings can be applied critically to our everyday experiences in a way that makes our lives more meaningful and connected.
Whether you've been in church all of your life, you've never been to one before, or you are somewhere in between, there's a warm space for you at church(ish).
We will gather on five Sunday evenings:
February 4, March 11, April 1, May 6, June 3.
We will have some light 'brunch at night' items and coffee and tea available at 6:30 p.m., with the gathering starting at 7 p.m.
Right here in Calgary, church(ish) is an opportunity to be involved in something new and unique to help forge a new spiritual path that focuses on people and spirit and community in a better way!
church(ish) is a pilot project, made possible by the Embracing the Spirit grant through The Edge Network of the United Church of Canada. If the journey takes us to a place where we can continue with church(ish) we hope to make it a continuous and consistent gathering, monthly or more often!