a message from a hearth parent
This week, Matt shares the impact The Hearth has had on him and his family. Matt’s story truly emphasizes The Hearth’s mission to make space to affirm the divine in all through intentional community. We are so grateful to have him and his family in our community. ~Kaylee
The Hearth has grown to be a place where not only can I worship God and experience fellowship with others in the community but also a place of healing. Since moving to Florida, I had become disheartened at not finding a community that was welcoming and affirming. Then through circumstances, I found myself sitting at the bar and having a beer at Castle Church Brewing (the former home of The Hearth). The calendar listed a “PRIDE'' night which piqued my interest because my children were in the process of self discovery and questioning. Every church we had visited had the stereotypical answer that always left our family on the outside and never fully a part of the community. But this was different. This place offered not only a place where my kids could explore who they are without judgment, but where they were supported and encouraged to be themselves.
The support and love from the community has been amazing! The past few years have been tumultuous but the community has stayed strong. I was welcomed into a group to play DnD (Dungeons and Dragons). The game was good, and joining friends for a beer and late night of gaming helped us grow together. That group is just one of the examples of community that continues to draw me to The Hearth. I struggle to describe the impact on my life the various small group studies and retreats have had on my life and my spiritual growth.
The Hearth is not a “novelty church”. It’s not a gimmick to try to get people in the door. It is truly a place where all are welcomed and invited to worship together. A place where my family and I are welcomed. It is a place filled with people who are willing to admit their own brokenness in order to grow together.
Cheers and Peace,
A Message from a church alum
This week, Kiera shares her faith journey as a gay woman and how The Hearth became a refuge and welcome space to wrestle with her own experience of a loving God and not-so-loving Christians in her past. I am so grateful for Kiera’s bravery and vulnerability in sharing her story with all of you. I am hopeful for a future where there are more Reconciling in Christ Churches for members of the LGBTQ community to find fellowship and safe worship. ~Kaylee
If I had to choose a word that defined my relationship with the church, I would say it has been tumultuous; though that doesn’t even seem to cover it. I grew up in the Southern Baptist Bible Belt where my earliest lessons about God were what He thought I could or could not be. Don’t be boy crazy, but be sure to get married young; ask hard questions, but not when it concerns a man’s behavior; take up your cross, but don’t be honest enough with yourself that you even know what that cross looks like. Most importantly, don’t be gay. You’ll go to hell if you’re gay.
I had a hard time with all of the rules, but especially one in particular.
When I came out, many of the relationships I had built within the church imploded. From spiteful letters to rude comments made to my parents, the response felt needlessly dramatic and cruel. Meanwhile, now happier than I had been in my adult life, I had begun the work of deconstructing what a Christian faith meant to me.
The community I have found at The Hearth has played a significant part in that endeavor by living out words of a Savior who commanded His disciples, not to show needless hate, but genuine love. No matter how hard I struggled, what questions I asked, if I showed up to church feeling humble or angry, I was greeted happily with a beer and a community devoted to kindness.
The journey to figure out what I believe is far from over. Faith seems like a concept too elusive even to define, much less to profess in the God of the Bible. Much as I wish I could say exactly what I believe or how I feel, I know I have decades of trauma to unravel first. Then the work of reconstruction begins. However this exploration ends, whether I return to the faith of my childhood or find God some other way, I find the most profound comfort in knowing that I have a home with the Hearth.
Cheers and peace,
a message from a former bartender
This week, we have a very special message from a former Bartender at our Castle Church Brewing location, Sarah Finn. Sarah served our community cold beer with a warm heart for almost two years and was especially loved by our Wednesday night Churchers. What is so very special and unique about The Hearth ministry is that we have the opportunity to bring Christ to those who may not ever step foot in a traditional church building. This is a blessing and a privilege that never ceases to amaze me. Know that any financial support you provide to The hearth is continuing this ministry as we worship in non-traditional spaces open to all, even those who are just there to serve or drink a beer. ~Kaylee
My name is Sarah and I came to know the community of The Hearth back when they were known as Castle Church Brewing Community. A church and a brewery under the same roof was a unique and never-before-seen concept for most, and that was what we all loved about it. I came to be intertwined with the church community by my involvement with the brewery - I was a bartender there for almost two years. Like many people who were raised in religious households, I found my way away from religion by my late teens. It's no secret that there are a lot of things about organized religion that are divisive; some religions more than others.
However, even though I still do not consider myself a religious person, being adjacent to a church community like The Hearth really opened my eyes to the reality that not all churches are divisive, judgemental, and "set in their ways." I was honestly so proud to work there and to be a part of this whole brewery-church puzzle. Many people who came to the brewery were not religious; they were just there for a beer and didn't realize it was also an active church on some days. I loved getting the chance to tell them, "Hey listen, I know what you're thinking. But it's totally different. It's not your average church. They're incredibly accepting and open-minded, and it's a really progressive community...it's cool."
Bartending on Wednesday nights was always a favorite of mine, because that was church night. Getting to know the community was truly a joy and they were all just the kindest people. I loved listening in on some of the sermons, and hearing how different they were from what I had grown up with. One of my favorite things about The Hearth is that they make space for and normalize the questioning of religion. They respect that people go through phases in life, wherein your commitment to or involvement with your faith can ebb and flow. We are constantly evolving beings who grow & change every day, and I think it's only logical to belong to and support a church that understands and encourages that.
A message from a hearth member
This week, Blake shares his story of giving. Blake is a current member of The Hearth and serves on Council. He is an invaluable part of The Hearth community and a dear friend, who gives in innumerable ways with a warm smile and generous heart. ~Kaylee
My mom used to tell the story of how I came home from kindergarten one day and told her I dumped my pretty girlfriend for a new one who always had a penny in her pocket. I don’t recall that, but I do remember singing “Love is like a lucky penny” and not really buying the song’s message of “Hold it tight and you won’t have any. But give it away, and you’ll have plenty.” (My sad childhood collection of Wheat pennies is probably still in my closet somewhere.)
In the past I’ve given out of guilt or obligation, but I now view giving as a joyful act. This is not to say I don’t have to work at it, as I do with other aspects of my spiritual practice. It’s not always easy to give cheerfully and without expectation of acknowledgment or return. This practice requires re-anchoring in scripture and prayer, rejecting self-congratulatory cultural messages about what I and others have “earned”, recognizing that I was born on third base headed toward home, and counting all the ways I have been enriched through giving.
I think God directs us to give because he knows it is good for us, and not only because it “stores up treasures in heaven.” Giving reorients our hearts around what really matters, replenishes us, multiplies our blessings, strengthens our connections and communities, brings us closer to God, and gets us a little closer to creating heaven here on earth. Picture the people you know who give freely, and then the people who are more guarded or skeptical in their giving—which group seems happier and more fulfilled? I believe Jesus when he said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” I think that “lucky penny” Sunday school song had it right.
Cheers and Peace,