Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Pentecost Sunday Liturgy , Free Spirit Inclusive Catholic Community’s Eighth Birthday, May 23, 2021, Ann Harrington ARCWP, North Carolina

                                                        Theme Weaving Dreams

Our evolving renewal movement is a holy shakeup that provides a new way of being Roman Catholic rooted in the teachings and ministry of Jesus, the witness of the mystics and prophets, and the spiritual equality and empowerment of all of God’s people.  Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP

Reflective Music (could be playing for those on Zoom as we gather in person and ease into silence)

Liza Greeting  Welcome dear friends as we gather in person and virtually to celebrate two significant events; our 8th birthday and the feast of Pentecost.

We at Free Spirit have been building a new, more inclusive universal church as it was meant to be. 

Let us take a brief walk down memory lane.  It started in 2012  when Ann was the celebrant for the memorial service for Dennis,   a dear friend of Ann and Mark’s. She heard a call or a whisper, to the Catholic priesthood.  As Ann was sharing her reflection at the service, she heard with the ears of her heart, “You can do this, you can be a Catholic priest.  There are people who need your priestly healing gifts.” 

 Ann says, “I wanted to be like some of the compassionate priests I had met. But I knew I would bring a new, more accessible priesthood into being. I could mirror God as a woman with unique experiences of marriage and motherhood.  I sensed a God who wanted to reveal Her vulnerability and presence in the everyday, both the joys and the sorrows.  In my struggles with depression, I experienced death and resurrection.  I wanted to proclaim that God can and does heal and liberate. I wanted to help people open their eyes to their belovedness.  I wanted to break down the barriers that prevented God from being with God’s people.  I wanted to bring celebration to the center of the worship experience.  I was experiencing the God of Abundant Love and wanted to share that with others.”

She processed this experience with her spiritual director and applied to the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests in the Fall of 2012.

After Ann was received into the program of priestly formation with ARCWP in early 2013.  Ann’s enthusiasm for inclusive community led her to celebrate Free Spirit’s first Eucharist on May 18, 2013, Pentecost- one year and two months before Ann’s priestly ordination.  She began to ask other women who might also be hearing this call to help in forming a Eucharistic faith community.  Among those answering that call were Lynn Caverly, Liza Hardy-Braz and Christina Logan.  A Founders Circle was formed and first met on November 9, 2013.  

The name emerged as Ann was driving in Pitt county around that time and noticed a small church called “Free Spirit”. Since that resonated well with the Founders Circle, they unanimously embraced it for their own. 

Then in 2014, Ann made contact with Sister Mary Ann Czaja of Tarboro.  Sister Mary Ann invited Ann to preach the Gospel with the people of Tarboro Community Outreach, a mission to the needy. Each week for nearly 7 years, Ann has facilitated a variety of prayer experiences for their community. 

Each month on the fourth Sunday Free Spirit celebrated Eucharist at Greenville’s Unitarian Church followed by delicious pot luck suppers.   Eventually we also celebrated Eucharist on second Sundays at Ann and Mark’s house combining it with a planning meeting. Gradually, our circle enlarged. In March of 2021 we began our celebrations on Zoom and our community grew to include folks many miles away. Today we embark on another new way to celebrate Eucharist with our inaugural hybrid liturgy.

With the help of God, we will continue to grow.  Let us rejoice in the gift that we are for each other as we weave our gifts together to bring forth a stronger community. 

To our virtual friends we invite you to bring bread and wine/water to your table as we prepare for our celebration, lead by our   founder and priest Ann. 

Opening Song Weave Us Together                        We are many textures,
we are many colours,
Each one different from the other.
But we are entwined with one another
in one great tapestry.

Weave, weave, weave us together,
Weave us together, in unity and love.
Weave, weave, weave us together,
weave us together, together in love.

We are diff’rent instruments,
playing our own melodies,
Each one tuning to a diff’rent key.
But we are all playing in harmony,
in one great symphony.

Weave, weave, weave us together,
Weave us together, in unity and love.
Weave, weave, weave us together,
weave us together, together in love.

A moment ago, we did not know
our unity, only diversity,
Now the Christ in me
greets the Christ in thee,
in one great family.

Weave, weave, weave us together,
Weave us together, in unity and love.
Weave, weave, weave us together,
weave us together, together in love.

Opening Prayer                                                                               Presider: We gather here today to celebrate how a dream of God incarnated in us, the Free Spirit Community.  We ask you O Creator God,  to expand the horizons of our limited imaginations and awaken in our souls, dangerous dreams for a new tomorrow and enkindle in us the Fire of Your Love.  ALL: Amen                                                                                        

Liturgy of the Word

Mark First Reading:  Acts 2:1-11                                                             When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together.
And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind,
and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.

Now there were devout people from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem.
At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd, but they were confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language.

They were astounded, and in amazement they asked,
“Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans?
Then how does each of us hear them in his native language?
We are Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya near Cyrene, as well as travelers from Rome, both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs, yet we hear them speaking in our own tongues of the marvels of God.

These are the words of the Acts of the Apostles and the community affirms them with, AMEN!

Responsorial Companions on the Journey (slideshow by Mark)

Christina Second Reading:  Vision Statement                                       Free Spirit Inclusive Catholic Community is a welcoming community that provides its members and guests the Living Waters of Christ Sophia.  We offer vibrant sacramental celebrations and spiritual formation experiences to empower one another to be co-creators with God of a peaceful, just and caring world.

Gospel Acclamation –    

Spirit of the Living God                                                          Fall fresh on us

Melt us, mold us,

Fill us, use us,

Spirit of the Living God

Fall fresh on us

Gary Gospel:  John 20:19-23 – 

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the authorities. 

Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.”  Having said this, the savior showed them the marks of crucifixion.

The disciples were filled with joy when they saw Jesus, who said to them again, “Peace be with you.  As Abba God sent me, so I’m sending you.”

After saying this, Jesus breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven.  If you retain anyone’s sins, they are retained.  These are the inspired words of John, a disciple of Jesus and the community affirms them with, AMEN!


We have experienced many things in eight years-hurricanes, illnesses, deaths, grandbabies being born, children moving away, a year of quarantine, civil strife.  Among positive world events during this time are same-sex marriage became legal in all 50 US states, the viral infection rubella has been eliminated, the US congress is becoming more diverse, Sesame Street’s newest resident, Julia is an autistic child, and the world population of mountain gorillas is increasing. 

  Life can be compared to a weaving together of a myriad of things, some we like and others we don’t much care for. One of the earliest challenges we faced on the Founders Circle was whether to have the word “Catholic” in our name.  Still, sometimes people ask me, why not start something new, quit the Catholic church?  I heard a clear call to this tradition, which remember is not limited or defined by the hierarchy, no matter what they say or believe.  Catholicism has beautiful traditions, a veritable cornucopia of spiritual delights. I have been deeply touched by the many Saints of our tradition who struggled and are struggling to live in conformity with Jesus.  They did and are doing amazing things. They open me to the wonder and awe of God.  Catholicism is deeply embedded in my heart and soul.

 I still use a paper calendar, for me it is a better instrument of planning than the electronic ones.  The point being that sometimes we keep one foot in the old and one in the new.  Has Free Spirit made a difference?  Are we creating positive changes in the institutional church?  The structural reforms that the women’s priest movement is embracing and that we are using as the model for our community, are in the infancy stage.  Who knows how it will turn out?  Certainly, the first Christians could have never envisioned the Church that we all grew up in.  But they believed something new had been revealed in Jesus.  Jesus opened them up to a new way of being in the world.  And that is one of our essential tasks and gifts to the Catholic Church and world-to recover and reclaim essential truths of our faith rooted in Jesus.  That the realm of God is to be understood experientially, beyond the limits of time and space.  This is mysticism and impossible to codify and control.  Jesus in the third chapter of John says the Holy Spirit is like the wind, “that blows where it will and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or where it goes”.  We here at Free Spirit have heard that Ruah, that breath of God and joined Her breath with ours, that breath of God that in the words of Irish theologian, Diarmuid O’Murchu, is:

 “breathing down on our troubled world.  We are shaking the foundations of our crumbling institutional church and breaking the rules that keep you, O Fire of Love, out of sacred places and we are from the dust and rubble, gathering up seedlings of a New Creation.”  

We are the tender seedlings who will blossom if we trust Spirit Divine to be our guide. Let us pray frequently for the grace to hear Her more and more. If we stay true to the Living God, there is only one place to go-the place of Fullness of Life.  May it be so!

Questions for shared homily: (choose one)

What does the Free Spirit Community mean to you?

What drew you to Free Spirit? What attracts you to this style of spirituality?

Do you have a personal story to relate about how you were led to Free Spirit?

Is the Holy Spirit present? If so, how?

ALL: Statement of Faith:  

We believe in the Holy One, a divine mystery beyond all definition and rational understanding

The heart of all that has ever existed, that exists now, or that ever will exist.

We believe in Jesus, messenger of the Divine Word, bringer of healing, heart of Divine compassion,

Bright star in the firmament of the Holy One’s prophets, mystics, and saints.

We believe that We are called to follow Jesus as a vehicle of divine love, a source of wisdom and truth, and an instrument of peace in the world.

We believe in the Spirit of the Holy One, the life that is our innermost life, the breath moving in our being, the depth living in each of us.

We believe that the Divine kin-dom is here and now, stretched out all around us for those with eyes to see it, hearts to receive it, and hands to make it happen.

Sharing of the Peace 

Presider:  Let us celebrate our faith by joining in song and body movement to Namaste: 

Prayers of the Community Please submit by email to Ann before the liturgy

For all those who have been wounded by institutional church, that they may experience Spirit Divine and find peace within.

For Patrick O’Neill and the other Kings Bay Plowshares activists’  safety and peace of mind during their incarceration.

                                Eucharistic Prayer

Presider:  With open hearts and hands let us pray our Eucharistic prayer in one voice:

All:  We gather together today to give thanks for the great gift of the Spirit/Sophia.  It is through her gifts of discernment, wisdom, and love that this Free Spirit Community came to be.  We celebrate today the eighth anniversary of our birth.  Our prophetic vision is to be an inclusive community, providing equal treatment of all.  The Spirit has called us to courageous service in promoting social justice and ecological sustainability.  We come together today, realizing our limitations in light of the great work that lies ahead.  We place our hope in Christ that the work which began in the Spirit will continue to transform us until our heart’s desires are brought to fruition.

Presider:  Guiding Spirt, we are full of gratitude today for the many gifts you have bestowed on this community.  You have bathed us in your light, you have stirred our hearts, you have grown us as individuals and as a community.  We trust that our continued openness to your presence in our community will inspire and enable us to face the future with your peace.

ALL: Amen

Holy Holy Holy 

We are holy, holy, holy.

We are holy, holy, holy.

We are holy, holy, holy.

We are whole.

Spirit Divine, Come to me.

Feeling love, healing me.

Open My heart, allow me to see,

Beauty and love, lives in me.

You are holy, holy, holy

We are whole

I am whole

All:  We are ever aware of your Spirit in us and among us at this Eucharistic table and we are grateful for this bread and wine which reminds us of our call to be the body of Christ in the world.

Presider:  On the night before he faced his own death, Jesus sat at table with his friends and taught them, and to fix that memory clearly with them, he bent down and washed their feet.  When he returned to his place at the table, he lifted the bread, spoke the blessing, broke the bread and offered it to them saying:  Take and eat, this is my very self.

Presider continues:  Then he took the cup of the covenant, spoke the grace, and offered it to them saying:  Take and drink.  Whenever you remember me like this, I am among you.

Virtual Community: (recited in litany form by individuals) 

Sue Holy One, your transforming energy is within us and we join our hearts with all who are working for a just world.

Maureen We pray for wise leaders in our religious communities.

We pray for courageous and compassionate leaders in our world communities.

We pray for those working to end hunger.

We pray for those who strive to bring about a just and equal society.

We pray for all those who honor the earth and work for its sustainability.

We pray for our families and friends.

        We pray in thanksgiving for Christina, Gary, Liza, Lynn and Mark for their “yes” to Free Spirit’s birth,

We pray for ourselves and for Ann that her gifts may bond us and direct us to grow in your Spirit.

Presider:  Let us pray as Jesus taught us:

All:  Holy One, you are within, around and among us.  We celebrate your many names.  Your wisdom come; your will be done, unfolding from the depths within us.  Each day you give us all that we need.  You remind us of our limits and we let go.  You support us in our power, and we act with courage.  For you are the dwelling place within us, the empowerment around us, and the celebration among us, now and forever, Amen. (Adapted by Miriam Therese Winter)


ALL:  Fountain of Life,                                                        You call us to spirit-filled living; we embrace a life of Spirit and Truth.  

Fountain of Life,                                                                                 You call us to spirit-filled service; we will serve with compassion.  

Fountain of Life,                                                                   You call us to be Your spirit in the world, we will be your peacemakers.

(Presider and distance congregation lifts bread and wine, live congregation lifts hands in blessing )

All:  This is the Body of Christ for the Body of Christ!

Communion Song Spirit Come 


Noon Day Prayer, tomorrow at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church, this is outdoors and masks are required .  Sponsored by Interfaith Clergy

Need a few laughs?  Movie night at Gary’s?  If you’ve never seen “What About Bob?” or seen it often, let’s get together and enjoy the mirth.  What’s a good day?

Reminder: “Healing Justice” film showing Thursday, June 3 at 815pm via Zoom, link will be sent that morning

Friday June 18, 6pm, Greenville Grooves and Juneteenth Celebration at Town Common.  Does anyone want to gather together for this?  Food trucks will be providing eats or we could have a pot luck picnic!


Presider:  I invite you to lift your hands in mutual blessing:      May the Spirit of God who illuminates us and leads us to places we would rather not go,                                                                 expand the horizons of our limited imaginations,                                 awaken in our soul’s dangerous dreams for a new tomorrow and rekindle in our hearts the fire of prophetic enthusiasm.

All:  Let It Be So!

All:  May the Fire of Love ignite our hearts and radiate compassion through us.  May we continue to be the face, hands and feet of Christ Sophia, and may we be a blessing in our time. Amen!

Closing Song: Joyful, Joyful (Julie plays on violin)

Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee,                                                God of glory, Lord of Love,                                                   Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee,                                           Hail Thee as the sun above,                                                         Melt the clouds of sin and sadness,                                                        Drive the dark of doubt away,                                                            Giver of immortal gladness,                                                                      Fill us with the light of day.

                                                                                          All All Thy works with joy surround Thee,                                                          Earth and Heaven reflect Thy rays,                                                                Stars and angels sing around Thee                                             Center of unbroken praise                                                           Field and forest, vale and mountain,                                                  Blossoming meadow, flashing sea,                                                 Chanting bird and flowing fountain                                                             Call us to rejoice in thee

This liturgy composed in association with the Free Spirit Inclusive Catholic Community Liturgy Committee: Barbara Glatthorn, Kate Cole and Liza Hardy-Braz

Special thanks to Mark Harrington for sharing his Mad Max IT skills.

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