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Finding faith without boundaries in a community that cares

NORTH CANAAN —  Whether it’s a sign of stressful times — war, a bad economy, a presidential election, natural disasters that seem more prevalent and devastating — or simply a recognition of a need to fill a void in the psyche, people in the area seem to be seeking the kind of comfort they can only get from others. They’re not necessarily going to church; but they are seeking spiritual comfort.

Faith Without Bounds is a new ecumenical prayer service. It will be held the first Sunday of each month, beginning Sept. 7 at 4 p.m. at Pilgrim House on Granite Avenue.

“It will be very nondenominational, very simple,” said the Rev. Rosalie Richards of Christ Church, who organized the service with the Rev. Barbara Schenk of North Canaan Congregational Church, and the Rev. Betty LeGeyt of Canaan United Methodist Church.

“Services will be led by different people, only to give it some structure. Otherwise, it’s about a gathering opportunity where we can come with concerns of the community. We can lift things to God together. We’re completely agenda-free.”

Richards said she was delighted that it was a young man, a college student, who came up with the name while talking to his mom, a Christ Church member, about the plans.

“It’s perfect. And that a young person could get it, could understand what we are trying to do, reassures me. I’m thrilled.”

It’s not about recruiting church members, judging or looking for donations. In her short time in North Canaan, Richards has come to see how strongly community-oriented a town it is, more so than any place she’s lived before, she said. When tragedy hits, whether it’s widespread or a single family, it is felt by all.

“The service is not about blessing our church territories, but about blessing the greater community.”

She credited Schenk with adding inspiration to the approach, saying it’s something she has been doing for so long.

The idea was born out of conversations that included people from churches looking for ways to reach out and foster various levels of commitment. It also came from questions and circumstances,  and from people who come to Richards with an apparent need “for a place to put their pain.”

“This is truly a place that is a community. This can be an outlet for the prayers we share.”

Family-friendly services are expected to last for about 30 minutes. A little music and scripture will be included.

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