A day to remember: our first All-Congregational Gathering

Yesterday morning, Soma Church brought both of her congregations together for the first time. Some of our body hadn’t seen once-familiar faces since Soma Downtown launched in mid-September. Others, who have joined us since the launch, had maybe never met the few-hundred people involved in the other congregation at all.

But all those people – plus friends, family, and guests – packed out the Walker Theatre on the near westside in a noisy, chatty, happy crowd. In all, 610 people came to celebrate what God has done in and through our body over the last four years and dream together about what might lie ahead for us.

We chose the Walker Theatre deliberately for a number of reasons. The Walker is both a cultural landmark of the African-American community in Indianapolis, and at the same time a reminder that segregation is not that far behind us. The history of the building reminds us of one of the calls God has laid on the hearts of Soma’s leaders: the pursuit of racial reconciliation.

(It’s also an amazingly beautiful place to be!)

Our service began with Lee Ann Kassab (left) sharing how she became involved with Soma, and how God worked through that involvement to renovate her life completely. Her story is a testament to the saving, redeeming power of God, which we hope we always seek and celebrate.

Phil Edwards led our liturgy, including a confession of sin over our self-separation from God and from other people. That time of confession and song was capped by a spoken-word testimony from David McKissic (right). Dante Cook (below, left) then shared about how God has helped him deepen his cross-racial relationships and how he’s seen those relationships grow at Soma, before praying for renewal in our city.

Brandon’s sermon, taken from Acts 11:19-30, looked at the first time the gospel really spread into a religiously- and racially-diverse city. The community of Jesus-followers in Antioch – who were the first group of people to be called “Christians,” or “little Christs” – were given that name because people didn’t know what else to attribute their inexplicable unity and passion to. Specifically, we saw that when the Holy Spirit goes to work in a diverse community, he creates:

1. Conversions – people are transformed by the power of God

2. Reconciliation – people are unified across racial and socioeconomic lines

3. Generosity – people are moved to give to others by God’s grace

Brandon used these three marks of the Spirit’s work as challenges for Soma this year: as goals that we should pray for and work for as a church. We could be tempted, he warned, to sink into the idea that we’re a “hot new church” and sink into the mindset of growing our brand; instead, while we can be grateful for what God has done, we must keep seeking dependence on God and the pursuit of the kingdom of God in the world.

See this post for the four core priorities Soma's elders feel God calling us to pursue in 2016.

After taking Communion, we closed the service with the Apostles’ Creed, the oldest comprehensive compilation of Christian belief in existence. The Creed unites us with Christians across the globe and across centuries.

Following Communion, we asked people to keep up the spirit of the day by going out to eat together.

(This, we’ve heard, was taken up with gusto)

In all, we (the leadership of Soma) were fantastically encouraged by everything that happened yesterday. We are deeply, deeply grateful for the ways we’ve seen God work in us and through us; and we’re so excited to see what he does in these congregations, in any future new ones, in our city, and in our world.

The entire service was recorded, and our A/V volunteers are hard at work processing it. Keep an eye on the website for the footage to go up!