Reverend Ryan Downing
Reverend Ryan Downing
Ryan Downing has been pastor of Faith UCC since September 2016. He has a passion for exploring faith, spirituality, and the common good with others, both in and outside the church.

Muscatine Living

Have you ever driven by a church on a Sunday morning and thought, “Hmm, I wonder if how they pray is that different from how we pray?”

Or, maybe you see a full church parking lot on a Wednesday night and think, “What could possibly bring people out on a weeknight?”

Or maybe, being more of the spiritual-but-not-religious persuasion, you might wonder, “What, if anything, would a gathering of people in a sanctuary or a church basement have to offer me?”

The Muscatine Ministerial Association hopes to try and answer some of these questions for people over the next several weeks. This Wednesday is Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent. As a season of preparation for Easter, Lent is often marked in various ways by reflection, repentance, fasting, and a general deepening of one’s spiritual practices. Lent, however, is also a time for coming together.

This year, in the spirit of coming together and getting to know our neighbors a little better, the Muscatine Ministerial Association is sponsoring a series of ecumenical Lenten prayer services and lunches. The public is invited to share in these short weekly prayer services, which will be followed by a simple lunch. The gatherings will be held every Thursday in Lent from 12:00 noon to 1:00 p.m. at the following churches:

  • Thursday, March 5 at Faith UCC, 3307 Mulberry Ave.
  • Thursday, March 12 at Trinity Episcopal, 211 Walnut St.
  • Thursday, March 19 at Bloomington Friends, 2698 180th St.
  • Thursday, March 26 at First Presbyterian, 401 Iowa Ave.
  • Thursday, April 2 at First Christian, 700 Kindler Ave.

Of everything that Muscatine has to offer, one highlight is the plethora of churches in town. While each church is a little different in the ways that it practices religion, one thing that we all hold in common is the value of community. In fact, the word “religion” is derived from the Latin word for “re-binding” or “re-connecting.” Thus, bringing people together is what we do, and that is not only good for the soul but also for this great community that we all share. The Ministerial Association hopes that these Lenten gatherings will help to foster such community and the goodwill and understanding that can go along with it.

It was St. Augustine who, in an effort to promote unity amid diversity, once said, “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.” This Lent, join with others here in town in coming together to hear reflections of hope, perhaps discover new and different ways to pray, and maybe even learn a little more about your friends and neighbors.

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