In July 2016, a small group met over dinner to begin discerning a call to create a new community—called Sanctuary—for doubters, for skeptics, for the burnt out, and for the spiritually curious. We gathered around the question of, “Why Church?” and the practices of eating together and listening together, which we shared with our sending church, Open Door. We then moved to reading a book, Church As Movement, and casting vision for the future. As we talked and prayed, we recognized a need in our neighborhoods and social networks for a space to both wrestle with questions of faith and a place to rest in a spiritual tradition. This need could be met by a faith community that gathered more like a family dinner— a place of belonging and the shared practices of eating, listening, learning, encouraging, and giving.
We saw an opportunity for such a community in the Lawrenceville neighborhood of Pittsburgh, where several of our discernment team members work, live, and spend their free time. Through house gatherings and social gatherings, we seek to form a new kind of church. A church that welcomes doubts, uncomfortable questions, along with religious ritual and contemplative prayer. A church that creates places of worship in its people's homes and businesses, that shares resources freely, and seeks to serve its neighborhood by coming alongside those already doing good work. A church that is open and inclusive to all.