March 9, 2014: We saw the new “Son of God” movie together in Fitchburg, right near the college where Jeremy & Sarah attend, and right near Matt & Becca’s house. We met for dinner after and talked it over. Overall, the reaction was very favorable (with some reservations)! I had fun talking about what they might have done differently, but I was impressed with all the things they got right, too!
February 2, 2014: We had a party in honor of football (Superbowl CLVIII or something), which none of us really follows. But hey, commercials, right? Hilariously, half of us non-football people stayed downstairs and watched other shows while the other half went up to Heidi’s place and watched the actual game.
December 22, 2013: We met at Kimberly’s house (our neighbor) because Jill and I were a bit sick. Though many couldn’t make it so close to Christmas, we had a lovely evening together.
December 15, 2013: We helped out at the home for single moms and their kids in Devens. We brought tons of donated gifts, and then the kids could come in and “shop” for presents for their moms and family members (like a secret Santa kind of thing). I played some background carols on guitar, and the others helped wrap, guide the kids around, set up, and decorate. The kids loved getting to shop without paying, something they probably didn’t have much opportunity to do. We went out to dinner afterwards, had a great time chatting.
October 27, 2013: My band, Grace & Caperings, played at Grace Community church in Chelmsford. A bunch of us generously went up to see us (hopefully they liked the musique too). We ate a lovely dinner (with pizza) beforehand.
September 8, 2013: Matt is ordained to the Anglican priesthood, so a bunch of us went to be part of this. We were proud of him and he even got the church to feed us afterwards!
July 14, 2013: Bill Henson (from below) joined us with his entire family! We barely had enough seats but it was great to fellowship with them all. Hopefully next time we can coax some more teaching out of him
June 23, 2013: We headed over to the Daman’s in Bolton (Hannah’s parents) to help them out with yard work. Mr. Daman really put us to work, but we all had fun working together and got a lot done. It was a pleasure to serve them.
June 14-16, 2013: Our third annual Maine beach trip! Just as wonderful as the last two. So much goodness and community. We look forward to this every year now.
April 28, 2013: We met together at the Cooper’s house in Harvard to see Bill Henson speak. He’s an amazing guy and professional counselor who teaches people in the church about LGBT concerns. Many of us were confronted with our hidden biases and convicted about past mistakes, and learned some strategies to be more loving.
April 5, 2013: We helped the Pendants move (again) to a new place in Dorcester.
December 9, 2012: Christmas party at Ryan & Theresa’s place in Dorcester! Yankee swaps, spiked cocoa, fixin’s!
November 11, 2012: We met for pizza (never a bad idea) and then to Trinity church in Bolton for a prayer night. The purpose was to pray for persecuted Christians all over the world.
October 21, 2012: My brother-in-law Ed, an experienced teacher and trainer, came to teach us on a regular Sunday evening. He’s welcome back anytime!
October 14, 2012: We met for pizza in Alewife, then trucked over to Ryan & Theresa’s church (Boston Vineyard). It was a prayer and worship night, lots of music and, well, prayer! It was fun to experience this with our bunch of friends. While we were at Bertucci’s, our sister Sarah asked our waitress if she could pray for her. She’s the gutsiest person I know. The waitress said “sure” and so we did as we blessed our meal… I’ll never forget that!
September 23, 2012: We met at Matt & Becca’s place in Fitchburg for a barbeque and participation in “evening prayer”. A fun evening.
August 18-20, 2012: Again we went up to Maine as a group, where Jill’s aunt and uncle generously let us stay each summer for a few days. This was an amazing trip, just like the previous year. So much fun and just… being together. Lots of time was spent boating, reading, swimming, eating, roasting, and lots of other fun things. A wonderful weekend! Jill’s friend and her husband stopped by on a trip from Texas for a bit too!
August 4, 2012: We met at a friend’s house on the beach of a lake in Ayer to baptize Jim, our neighbor and newest brother in the faith. I can’t express how beautiful this was – we all participated, Jim was excited, and you could feel God’s presence! It was raining when we got there, but as the evening drew on it turned into a beautiful sunset. After the baptism we had dinner together.
July 1, 2012: We helped out an older man living in Acton with some yard work.
June 24, 2012: HGRM volunteering again!
May 26, 2012: Ryan and Theresa get married Jeremy, Matt, and I were honored to be part of the party. Jill played her drum for the music. It was really fun, they got married in an orchard. They also both changed their last name to “Pendant” – it’s a hybrid of their old last names.
April 29, 2012: Ryan moved into Dorcester from Lancaster and a couple of us helped him, including Theresa his finance!
March 18, 2012: We served again at HGRM helping people pick furniture and move it into trucks. Then we spent some time organizing new stuff for them. After that we all got together for some outdoor pizza, games, and running around. Some neighbors joined us too!
March 4, 2012: Our neighbor Heidi has had trouble with her foot for years, and it’s hard for her to get around and clean. So this evening about ten of us went up to her apartment and cleaned it from top to bottom. It didn’t actually take that long with all of us, but it was neat to do a service project that was in the same building as us!
February 26, 2012: Olga, a sweet woman who visited us a few times, knows a ton about the Bible and loves small, “organic” churches. She’s *very* artistic. This evening she led us in a study and dancing, it was really neat. If you had peeked through the window you would have seen a bunch of people dancing around in a circle singing Psalms in the Hebrew! Pretty neat, actually. Also, Jed & Beth Mullenix (Jed is a pastor at Harbor of Hope) visited this evening. It was really fun to have them and they added a lot to our discussions. Jed is a guy I have known for years and respect.
February 5, 2012: We did some “church” stuff and then just hung out and had a Superbowl party. We had a few neighborhood visitors (Jim, Fabio, Mira, Heidi, Andre) and had a lot of fun. Ryan and Theresa made some awesome wings and spiked cocoa for us.
January 29, 2012: We had a few visitors this evening. One set was Tim & Gail Knapp. Tim is the pastor of a church in town and agreed to visit us. His church is doing this neat project with small communities and Tim said it was similar to what we do. He’s a really fun guy to talk to and hang out with (and Gail too!). The other visitor was Jim, a fun guy from Worcester who has visited us once before a few years ago. His car broke down on the way and he hitchhiked part of the way here and then ran the rest! Wow! It was a fun evening with all our guests. Sarah Comeau led us in praying for many different countries of the world, something she has been doing on her own daily.
January 8, 2012: We did a personality study that took most of the evening. We do this (historically) every year or so, as it’s really fun to know ourselves and each other better. The goal is to figure out how we connect with God best and to do that on a regular basis. And of course to learn to love each other more despite the differences we all have. ALSO… Hannah was home from Scotland and joined us for a couple of weeks! We have missed her terribly
December 18, 2011: We all went kazarolling together! We’ve been doing this for about four years now with whomever has the guts to go along. Basically we go caroling but with kazoos! It’s actually less embarrassing to play kazoo for people than sing if you’re not musically inclined. This year we went to a few neighborhood houses and then to an elderly community in Bolton. They loved us playing and singing for them.
December 11, 2011: We had a dinner together and then watched a movie about Vincent de Paul, a saint guy who really cared about the poor during the time of the plague. The movie was old and in black and white, but done very well and we all enjoyed it (I think).
November 30, 2011: Mira and Fabio, two of our neighbors who have been joining us for our Sunday gatherings, had baby Aceson!
November 15, 2011: Jill and I start a neighborhood Bible study using materials from Walter Mutti (he’s been using the same curriculum for years with many different groups of people). It’s a year-long, weekly study from Genesis to Jesus! A bit scary at first but the people in our church help us out.
November 13, 2011: We helped out at HGRM again and moved furniture for about four hours after helping the “customers” find what they needed. After that we went out to dinner. Ryan announced that he and Theresa were engaged! Dinner was really fun, we had some great conversations while eating as much pizza as we could.
October 30, 2011: We trucked up to the north shore to meet at the Brench residence in Beverly. Their house is cozy and we liked giving them a week off – they drive almost an hour to meet with us!
October 23, 2011: Old friends of Jill’s parents, Roger and Claire Dewey, visited. They used to live right next to Theresa and Roger has lots of really great stories. He’s the kind of guy that would try anything and go anywhere. He had compiled these into a bunch of songs designed to communicate God’s love to average folks. He used us as guinea pigs for his presentation. We all loved it and he had some great stories and things to say.
October 11, 2011: Jill and I started a weekly neighborhood Bible study. Very scary, but very good to be used like this in our community. Fortunately we are supported by our church and by Walter Mutti, who does the same sort of thing full-time.
September 11, 2011: We visited HGRM again, helped some people pick furniture, and load it into trucks for a few hours. Then we went out to dinner.
July 31, 2011: This week our dear friend Kristin moved to Raleigh, NC. We’ll miss her a lot
July 17, 2011: Jon Wheeler visits. What a cool kid. Shortly after this Jon went to spend a year with a group called the Edmundites as a novitiate to see if he wanted to become one.
July 9, 2011: We volunteered at HGRM (affectionately known as the “hug room”), a local charity that collects and distributes furniture for needy families. We moved furniture all day, helping people to find what they needed and then load it on trucks. It was hard work but we all had a good time and will be going back!
July 2, 2011: A bunch of us went up to Maine for a day or two. Such a great time, it was like a small time in paradise. It was really great to spend time with everyone.
June 12, 2011: Becca taught us about different kinds of singing. We actually ended up chanting like monks, singing hyms like the reformers, etc. Our neighbor Heidi stopped by for prayer regarding her foot, which has been hurting for years. Ryan decided to wash her feet (with her permission of course) and we all prayed for her.
May 1, 2011: Several folks from another house church in Sutton came out to join us. We have met with them before at gatherings and at their meetings, and we like them. It was a really great meeting together and talking about God and what he is doing. I guess we were singing a bit loudly at one point as a neighbor came up to the door and asked us to pipe down!
April 23, 2011: Ryan was hospitalized for appendicitis. Most of us went and visited him. He’s ok though!
April 17, 2011: We met at Matt and Becca’s place up at Gordon Conwell for a short dinner and discussion, then trucked over to Gordon College to watch some outstanding comedy by the Sweaty-Toothed Madmen and Pete Holmes, a graduate of Jill’s class at Gordon and a famous comedian. We all laughed a LOT.
April 3, 2011: After quite an interval between service projects, we finally planned one at a place in Devens called Transitions. It’s a place where homeless families can live. It was really fun. Jill and Kristin planned some activities for the little kids, and Ryan, Jeremy, and I cleaned and sanitized a big roomful of toys. Then we all mopped stuff. After that we all went out to eat at a local restaurant. And after that we still hadn’t seen enough of each other, so we went to Kristin’s place and watched Pushing the Elephant, a documentary that our very own Audrey Chow worked on! It’s about a woman from the Congo who works and prays for peace in a region of war.
March 27, 2011: Dave and Karen Astolfi joined us for a second time. They are the parents of Tony and Shannon Astolfi who are good friends of ours. Dave is a pastor type guy with a heart for smaller churches, and Karen is a fun truth-seeker. We had lots of good discussions and hope they come back soon.
March 20, 2011: Walt Mutti joined us again. He has lots of wisdom and we had some great conversations into the evening. We also did the “bless the house” thing again since Jill and Ben were in a new place.
March 6, 2011: Kristin’s parents were up from PA, and they agreed to visit us. We all liked them and enjoyed spending the evening with them. We appreciated their contributions and were glad we didn’t scare them too much.
January 2, 2011: We met at the Brench house for a meal together and a viewing of “The Hiding Place”. This movie is awesome if you haven’t seen it. It made me cry It’s about the life of Corrie Ten Boom, a wonderful lady who survived the Holocaust. After the movie we had some great conversations.
February 20, 2011: Audrey comes back from NY to visit us. We love Audrey
December 29, 2010: We had a mid-week meeting with five of us because Audrey was going back to New York and wanted to meet as a church! What a great meeting, it was impromptu and a blessing to all. Even though we didn’t prepare much, God came through on his promise to be with us when we gather together.
November 21, 2010: Jill found this article in the Sunday paper about a former Wiccan high priestess of twenty years who became a Christian. She’s pretty famous both for her past life (she was the founder and leader of a Wiccan church in Duxbury) and for her conversion after so many years. I found her on the internet, emailed her, and asked her to join us. Amazingly, she said yes, and her husband Tim also joined us. They drove over an hour to get here, and it was so awesome to meet with them and hear their story. We all learned a lot and felt encouraged by their testimonies. Tim and I played music together too! I was struck by all the people out there who hate them (on both sides of the fence) and how, despite that, they are following Jesus and seeking truth. Thanks so much Hoveys for dedicating your Sunday evening to us!
November 14, 2010: We drove up to Chelmsford to rake leaves for My Father’s House. This was the second time we helped them out, and it was fun to have a big group of us all raking together. Their yard looked super when we were done!
October 31, 2010: We met at the Brench residence (Joanna’s house). Some people were late so we played some hide and seek before dinner. Then we had a great evening. I got to teach about angels/demons (sort of apropos being Halloween and all), which was probably one of my favorite studies ever. Props to Joanna’s tea, must come from her British background.
October 17, 2010: Hannah stayed up a bit late to video conference with us from Scotland! She had just got back to Scotland from Portugal on a mission trip within a mission trip, or something like that. It was such a blessing to talk to her with everyone over video, it was almost like she was with us! We prayed together and caught up on things.
October 3, 2010: Some of us drove to Sutton in the morning to meet with another small church out there. We got to see how they do things a bit differently from us, but also how much we have in common. My favorite part was eating together and talking for a long time about church with Ken and the other guys.
September 26, 2010: We cleaned for Doris (the older lady we do this for in Bolton) and then went to Trinity (also in Bolton) to a praise/prayer kind of event they were having that evening. Ryan was playing in the band so it worked out for all of us to go and see him. We had some great conversations afterward too just hanging out there.
September 5, 2010: We met at the Frawley’s house in Lancaster. They live on a nice lake and we did some canoeing/kayaking and hanging out before dinner. It was a nice warm evening for eating on the deck. Thanks for hosting us Frawleys!
August 29, 2010: Diane and Bernie Michaud again visited us. We love them and we had a lot of good conversations that evening!
August 15, 2010: Hannah’s last Sunday with us. We met at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary, where the newlywed Brenches live. We talked about the nature of the church, serving others like Jesus did, and not withholding good from people.
Notice the goofy double camo Ben’s wearing… we all laughed at that.
August 10, 2010: We planned a dinner get together for Hannah, our dear sister. She’s leaving for two years in Scotland as a sort of missionary with YWAM. We’ll miss her a lot!
August 1, 2010: We held a meeting at the Merrill’s in Bolton after cleaning for Doris. Rick Thompson, a house church apostle/leader guy who travels around the country supporting groups like ours, was there with us. We appreciated his wisdom and hope he can stop by more when he’s in the area.
June 5, 2010: Matt and Becca get married! A great day! We’ll miss them on their honeymoon but fortunately they’ll be coming back to us after that. Jon journeys back to California, the only sad part of the day.
May 14, 2010: Ben and Jill have a baby. Everyone was very helpful making meals for us and supporting us in this endeavor!
May 10, 2010: While only a “normal” meeting, this night was awesome. We had a great dinner and some great conversation. We talked about hoarding things and our attitudes toward money and possessions. Mr. Mutti was there and had wisdom to share. As Jill was about to give birth to our first kid at any minute, everyone prayed specially for us. It was really nice and we felt very supported and loved.
May 2, 2010: We met at the conservation land nearby for a impromptu picnic dinner. It was hot! Jon, Hannah’s beau, joined us and probably thought we were all really weird. And not without cause
March 5, 2010: We surprised the Stoltzfus family (long-time workers for Young Life in our area) by sending the parents out to dinner free and babysitting the three kids while they were out! This was actually really fun for us. We played Wii, Connect Four, the piano, Apples to Apples, etc. Ryan cooked them up some tacos for dinner.
January 10, 2010: We visted the home of Doris, an elderly lady in Bolton, to clean her house. She had responded to an offer for free service we had posted at the Senior Center many months ago. She loved us being there and we cleaned her place right up (there were about 10 of us cleaning a small apartment at the same time). It’s so fun to see older folks genuinely surprised to see a group of 20-somethings visit just to serve them. People don’t really understand why we do it (do we want money??), and we get lots of questions. We’re planning on going back every month for a while.
January 3, 2010: Friends from our old church (Harbor of Hope in Chelmsford) visited us – Bernie and Diane Michaud, an older couple who love small churches. They were around in the 60’s when this stuff was popular Also, they brought another couple (David and Karen Astolphi) whom we knew because their son Tony is one of our best friends! With these two great couples sharing their wisdom, it was a really fun night. They seemed happy to be a part of our small church too!
December 20, 2009: We ate at the Damans’ house and then trucked over to Trinity church in Bolton for their “Lessons and Carols” thing. A few of our normal attendees also go to Trinity on Sunday morning. It was all Christmasy and stuff.
October 11, 2009: Five of us helped out a neat ministry/community house in Chelmsford called My Father’s House. It’s a place that troubled single moms can live and raise their babies! We cleaned their kitchen and pantry pretty thoroughly – it pretty much sparkled when we left. Not sparkled like a vampire… just sparkled with cleanliness.
August 23, 2009: Our first church baptism. At a local conservation land pond, we baptized Audrey Chow, had a picnic, and sang a few songs. Audrey’s mom and lots of Ryan’s family was there as well. A really exciting time for all of us!
August 2, 2009: “See the Queen” event, where you dress up really fancy and go somewhere normal. We went bowling and then to an Irish restaurant together. We had a lot of fun, and some nice looking attire.
July 5, 2009: Rick Thompson joins us. He’s a full-time house church guy we met at the Sutton gathering. He visits churches all over the country! After dinner we went to some local conservation land with a picnic table to sing and study.
June 28, 2009: Four of us attend a house church gathering in Sutton, MA. There were people from all over New England there – around 150 people representing a bunch of little churches. There was tons of food, fellowship, music, and discussion (both individually and in a large group). It was interesting to see the variety of people there too. People with vastly different personalities, ideas, nationalities, and ways of “doing” church. Older people, tons of kids.
June 21, 2009: We helped out an older lady in Bolton with miscellaneous yard chores. It was raining but we all had a lot of fun and felt useful. After that we went out for pizza and stayed for a couple of hours discussing church stuff and hanging out together.
May 24, 2009: We met in Bolton at Memorial Field, then helped out an older couple down the road. There were eight of us (including Matt’s dad!), but we all managed to find work to do mowing, raking, weeding, clearing, etc. The couple was very appreciative, even though we managed to break both of their mowers. The husband was showing us pictures of when he came to the USA 31 years ago (he’s Greek). After that we went to a playground and had a picnic and great time of discussion. Then we played on the awesome playground – this was my personal favorite part A really great afternoon.
May 22, 2009: We met at Hannah’s place for a bonfire/cookout. Lots of friends showed up and we had fun talking around the fire in the dark, hacking things with my machete, playing frisbee, eating marshmallows and Ryan’s burgers (YUM), and running around with Maggie (Christine’s daughter).
May 3, 2009: A few of us were able to help out an older lady named Betty, a widow in Bolton. We removed some sand from her driveway and raked/weeded an island. Nothing glamorous or even very necessary, just an opportunity to serve our community.
April 26, 2009: Church met at Steele Farm conservation land for the second time in its history. We had pizza delivered there, did a short Bible study, chatted, and then spent about half an hour just meandering around on our own talking to God. Very refreshing, and a great time to share with everyone.
March 15, 2009: We visit Glen again in the nursing home. We sang him some songs and talked to him a bit, and then played hymns for some of the old folks there. They really enjoyed it and even sang along. After that we went to the grocery store, got food, and had a picnic at a playground. A fun time! (Edit: Glen passed away about a month after we visited. We were glad to be able to see him before he died.)
January 4, 2009: Jim Gray and Walter Mutti joined us. A phenomenal evening! Jim works with a house church system in Los Angeles – it was exciting to connect with him about things. Walter is an amazing guy as well, and we learned a lot. Also, everyone walked around our house and prayed for it. It sounds weird but it made total sense and was quite encouraging to everyone.
December 28, 2008: Nate and Caroline Daman visit us and teach about asking questions in conversation. We agreed to think about supporting their ministry with the Navigators in Worcester.
November 30, 2008: We helped move wood for a different elderly couple in Bolton. Afterwards we had some great conversation with them over hot chocolate.
November 23, 2008: We raked leaves for some older folks in Bolton. Christine led us in painting during our meeting! It was a very fun way to worship.
October 26, 2008: Bob Turner is our guest speaker. Great guy, full of wisdom!
October 12, 2008: Some of us visited Glen Wicklegren in the nursing home he was at. We sang hymns to him. He seemed to enjoy it, and we even got to sing for some other people there!
September 29, 2008: Some of us agree to spend 70 minutes a week in God-related things. Sticker charts created for the purpose of holding each other to it.
August 31, 2008: Our first service project. We helped the Bradlee’s clean up their yard.
August 17, 2008: We met at a public place in a field. It was a beautiful evening and Hannah led the study. Ryan led us in praying for healing for Jill, who was feeling lousy. To this day her Crohn’s disease symptoms have not come back.
July 13, 2008: First meeting. Ideas collected from everyone about what they would like church to be like.
July 2008: Original email goes out to five people asking them to be a part of a church at the Holt’s place.
2007-2008: Ben thinks about house churches and researches how they work.