Why We're Mixing Up our Summer Rhythm

Summer Rhythm logo.jpg

If you've peeked at our calendar or popped in to a Gathering this summer, you've noticed that we're mixing up our rhythm this summer! From Memorial Day to Labor Day, we're experimenting with three different types of Gathering: Eucharist, Collective, and PLAY.

Summer Rhythm_icons.png

EUCHARIST Gatherings are filled with songs, scripture, teaching, prayer, and Eucharist. These nights will feel like our regular rhythm of Gathering throughout the year.

COLLECTIVE Gatherings take the same general shape as our Eucharist Gatherings (~75 minutes at St. Paul's in the Sanctuary) but the evenings are each designed to bring us together in different ways - through intentional conversation, dreaming and brainstorming, praying together, wine and hors d'oeuvres, etc. 

PLAY Gatherings take us out of our normal space and invite us to enjoy the relational life we share together. Whether at a backyard BBQ or a Beach Day, PLAY Gatherings invite us to celebrate the Jesus-following family of Open Door through laughter, play, hospitality, and adventure. 

Open Door Kids is happening each week throughout the summer except for our PLAY Gatherings.

We've got this rhythm mapped out on our calendar so you always know what to expect (though, as always, there's almost always a few surprises any time Open Door gathers together!). 

We've had a few questions about the summer rhythm, so here are some answers!

Why are we doing this?

Several reasons. Summer at Open Door is always a bit "liquid" - people travel, kids are out of school, and everyone's rhythm and schedule of life shifts a bit. We wanted to provide consistency in the midst of summer while also adapting to the realities of summer's inconsistencies. So we've scheduled PLAY gatherings on long/holiday weekends and are experimenting to see how the balance between Collective and Eucharist Gatherings push us into faithful presence in new ways  (and with different size crowds Gathering Sunday to Sunday). 

Another big reason is our spring learning journey around Sabbath. We committed early this year, as part of our Horizon, to rhythms of formation that are shaped by rest and Sabbath rather than busyness and noise. Rotating between Eucharist, Collective, and PLAY Gatherings gives all of our volunteer teams (kids, tech, music, etc.) some extra breathing room and a season of Sabbath during the summer months.

A third reason would be the hope that experimenting with our Gatherings would allow us to faithfully move in sync with God's invitation on our community. We don't simply Gather as a break from our regular routine or as another segment of a compartmentalized life; we Gather because God is inviting us on mission for the sake of the East Bay and our Summer Gatherings will press in to that invitation. 

Is this a permanent thing or just for summer?

We'll resume our rhythm of weekly Eucharist Gatherings after Labor Day (though we'll likely continue to experiment with Collective and PLAY Gatherings at strategic times throughout the year). 

What about Open Door Kids?

While we're switching up the rhythm for adults, we wanted to ensure a consistent learning environment for our Open Door Kids. Developmentally and holistically, we believe a stable rhythm and consistent presence is critical for the faith formation of the kids in our community.

The only exception is our PLAY Gatherings where we invite the entire family of Open Door - kids, adults, and families alike - to play together!

We're a worshipping community; how are Collective and PLAY Gatherings worshipful? 

Worship is the fullness of our lives lived in response to God's extravagant love made real in Jesus. Singing and teaching are certainly a part of what it means to be a worshipping community, but we also find intentional conversation, shared meals, serving, and dreaming together to be a beautiful and necessary expression of worship. 

We don't want to just be great worshippers through music but through our relationships, our insights, and our everyday lives lived both when we're scattered around the East Bay and when we gather together.

Any other questions? Please let us know!

Open Door Hiring Update (9.27.15)

Open Door Community's Hiring Team initiated a hiring process starting in June of this year to fill the position of Pastor of Worship and Formation. Over the course of several months, we received 17 applications and engaged in conversations with 9 candidates and narrowed it down to two finalists. Last month, we decided not to move forward with either candidate and are currently re-evaluating our hiring process and considering next steps. Both final candidates were strong and compelling but Steward Team and Hiring Team were unified in believing that neither was right for our community at this time.  

Throughout the process, the Hiring Team and Steward Team have felt a sense of peace and patience - the desire to wait for the right candidate who will become an integral leader in our community. We have experienced significant transition as a community over the summer and have realized the need to pause to listen to our family's voices and take time to let God help us re-imagine our hiring process, if needed. We will be hosting a "Living Room Session" on the evening of October 14th (location TBD) so that we can explore what God is doing in our community, allow space for reactions to the hiring decision and process and learn more about our needs for this new leader. We hope you'll make the time to attend, listen and share your perspective.

We know this news may be discouraging or disappointing; Steward Team and Hiring Team have certainly felt both of those emotions as we approached these decisions. However, we feel peace knowing God will call the right person to Open Door at the right time. We invite you to pray with us for God's continued guidance and join us on October 14th as we process together.

Please be in touch with any members of Steward Team if you have any questions!

Steward Team Candidates and the Priority of Reconciliation

On Sunday, we announced the names of the two candidates for Steward Team. See this post for an explanation of Steward Team and this post for a description of the nomination process.

After community nominations were received, a discernment team comprised of a cross-section of leaders at Open Door prayed, affirmed and discerned a smaller list of candidates to present to the current Steward Team. In light of Open Door's current season and next steps, Steward Team prayerfully invited two candidates - Erik Polzin and Kate Schwass - into conversation about joining Steward Team. After their own discernment and prayer, both candidates accepted the invitation and, this past Sunday, were announced to Open Door as the two candidates to join Steward Team.

Photo by Adam Powers (

Photo by Adam Powers (

Reconciliation is essential to our understanding of God's activity in the world and, as such, believe it to be a necessary practice for us in the Open Door family. Before commissioning Erik and Kate as members of our team of elders, we make space for and invitation into reconciliation. If there is any relational interruption or potential questions you have for either candidate, please prioritize and initiate reconciling conversations with them before June 21. If any situation might require mediation or coaching, please be in touch with Jer, Dave, or another member of Steward Team. 

At the conclusion of this reconciliation stage, we will commission Kate and Erik as members of Open Door's Steward Team (tentatively scheduled for June 21's Gathering). 

Join us in prayer and reconciliation!

April 19 Steward Team Update


Steward Team Update #3
April 19, 2015

Future Staffing

After discernment and prayer over Open Door’s upcoming season, Steward Team voted upon and approved a staff structure including Dave’s role and three new positions.  

  • Pastor of Mission and Directional Leader (Dave). In this position, Dave will champion and develop our formation through the ongoing expression of Circles, guide the staff and continue to develop and equip for our ongoing and expanding mission and identity.
  • Pastor of Worship and Formation (new hire). This full time pastoral position will champion and develop our formation through Gatherings with particular attention to worship through music and other avenues of formation.
  • Pastor of Kids and Family Formation (new hire). This part time pastoral position (15-20 hours/week) will champion and develop Open Door Kids with attention to the integration of families into the holistic cultivation of the Open Door family.
  • Admin (new hire). This part time role (5-10 hours/week) will support the infrastructure of Open Door as needed.

More information regarding job descriptions and the hiring processes will be available soon. If you have any questions, please contact a member of Steward Team or email Ben Johanson, Steward Team's chair at

Steward Team Transition

On April 19, the Steward Team transition process will begin with the intention of having two new members in place this June. Please consider setting aside Monday, April 27 for a day of praying, fasting, and discernment around Steward Team nominations.

In addition to Ben Johanson and Tony Collins completing their terms on Steward Team, Alison Knox will be finishing her role on Steward Team as well due to her impending move to Portland. Former Steward Team member Kerry O’Brien has been asked to complete the remainder of Alison’s term and has accepted. Due to the nature and timing of staffing transition, we have timed this year's transition to have overlap between the welcoming of new members and the transition of Ben, Tony, and Alison to provide additional guidance and leadership in this season.

Nominating (April 19-April 26) 
The Elder transition process will be introduced at Sunday's Gathering and the nomination process laid out. The community is invited to send nominations (name + 2-3 reasons this person is qualified) to Brooke Arnett ( by April 26. 

Discerning (April 27)
A cross section of Open Door leaders and guides will spend time in prayer and fasting before convening to consider, affirm and discern six candidates from the pool of nominees. The names of these candidates will be sent to Steward Team. On Monday, April 27, you are invited to fast and pray along with this discernment team.

Inviting (April 27-May 24)
Steward Team will meet, pray, and discern over the six candidates, ultimately interviewing and introducing two candidates to Open Door at our Gathering on May 24.

Reconciling (May 24-June 6)
As followers of Jesus, reconciliation is an essential practice. After the two candidates are introduced, the candidates and community alike are invited and encouraged to pursue any reconciling conversations needed to name and address any relational distance that may be present within the Open Door family.  

Commissioning (June 7)
Following the reconciling phase, the two candidates will be commissioned into their term on Steward Team at our Sunday Gathering. 

If you have any questions or comments, send them to Steward Team’s next meeting is on April 20. Stay tuned!

 With gratitude,

Ben, Brendan, Rebecca, Alison, Tony and Heidi

Open Door's Holy Week Schedule

Holy Week is the last week of Lent marking Jesus' final journey toward the cross, death, burial and resurrection.

In addition to our regular Gathering on Sunday evening (where we'll celebrate resurrection!), we will also host the experiential Good Friday Passion Sojourn and an Easter Sunrise Hike.  Details below!


Good Friday Passion Sojourn (available 5-9PM with child care from 5-7PM)

Join us for a haunting moment of remembering the Passion of Jesus. This will be a contemplative, multi-sensory sojourn intended to be experienced in solitude. The sojourn will occur in the Parish Hall at St. Paul’s and will be open between 5-9pm. The entire experience should take 45-60 minutes depending upon your pace.

Easter Sunrise Hike

Join us at the Shell Ridge trail head at 6:00am for our annual Easter sunrise hike. Rain or shine, we will take the hike and remember the wonder of resurrection together. Our sunrise hike will include some light snacks, a 30 minute moderate hike, music, and a shared Resurrection liturgy as we watch the sun rise over Mt. Diablo.

Easter Resurrection Celebration

At 5PM we will Gather to celebrate resurrection together! (Our weekly Open Door Kids experience will be up and running.)

An Update from Elizabeth

On Sunday evening I made an announcement about my next steps and, if you missed it, here is the audio as well as the written transcript.  The audio also includes an update from Steward Team member, Alison Knox. [audio mp3=""][/audio] ehunnicuttsmTonight I want to bring you up to speed on some exciting new developments in my journey.  I’m really excited about what is ahead, but it is bittersweet as it means that I will be transitioning out of my staff role at Open Door.

For the last several years, the Lord has been stirring something new in me.  He has been awakening me in a fresh way to His Spirit and His heart for His people.  A few years ago, here at Open Door we were walking through the book of Acts in a series called Seismic.  During this series we took several weeks to look at the Holy Spirit.  This was a very transformational time for many of us, and God used that series and many people at Open Door to really rock my world.  We were all challenged to both look for the ways that God was speaking to us in a moment-by-moment by way, and then take a risk in responding to His voice and invitation.  This experience with Open Door sent me on a journey of wanting to step into all that God has for me, with a renewed faith that “with God all things are possible."

The Lord has been doing a great work in me personally and as a worship leader.  I have felt challenged to step out and take risks as a worship leader, relying not just on what I’ve prepared and my own skill, but responding to what God wants to do in the moment.  As the Lord has been stirring up all these new things, I have felt a desire for further training in some areas.  I have sensed the Lord inviting me into a time of receiving - of learning more about Him and being further equipped for ministry.  I have felt God leading me on this journey, and I have decided to move to Redding and attend the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry this Fall.  It is a 9 month program focused on both personal spiritual growth and ministry training, and I’m really excited to see what God has in store during my time there.

This program begins in September, but I will be wrapping up my time at Open Door on June 7th.  This will provide me both a window of time to transition, as well as time to step into an overseas ministry opportunity. I will be spending 6 weeks in Spain serving on staff for a discipleship program for U.S. college students.  This program is part discipleship, part immersion into the community, and part Arts component.  I will be serving alongside Cari Jenkins, a dear friend of Open Door.  I am really excited to be part of this unique opportunity and see all that God does during my time there.

I know this will naturally prompt some questions, so I want to clear the air and let you to know that I’m not leaving because Jer is leaving.  Yes, Jer has been a friend of 17 years, a dear dear ministry partner, and like a brother to me.  I have utmost respect for him.  But the bottom line is that God has been stirring a lot in me for the last couple years, and it feels like He’s giving me the green light now.  I don’t always understand God’s timing, but I know that God is so much bigger than what we can wrap our minds around.

I also want you to know that I think Dave is an incredible leader and I have absolutely loved working with him for the last 9 months.  He is a fantastic human being and pastor and I’m sad that I won’t be here to see all the amazing ways that God uses him stepping into the future.  I know that Open Door is in great hands.

This community has meant the world to me over the last 6 years.  I have been shaped, cared for, and loved by all of you in extravagant ways.  Open Door has been a place of healing, restoration, equipping, and now will be a place of sending.  I am forever grateful to each and every one of you.  I am excited for Open Door and this next season.  I believe that God is birthing something new and beautiful here. I believe that the East Bay will continue to be profoundly impacted by each of you as you step into His calling on your life. And I believe that more and more of you will be raised up and sent out to do Kingdom work in other parts of the world.   I am proud to be part of this community, and part of the ongoing story that God is unfolding around us and through us.  This is not goodbye. I have two and a half more months with all of you, and I look forward to continuing to walk alongside you all as we seek God together.

If you have any thoughts or further questions about this next chapter for me then I'd love to talk with you so don't hesitate to reach out to me (

- Elizabeth