St. Teresa of Avila Comes to CdM

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“The Ecstasy of St. Teresa” by Bernini.

“Christianity isn’t a spectator sport, where people show up on Sundays to be entertained,” explained Chip Fisher, pastor of Community Church Congregational in Corona del Mar. “We are responsible for one another, and we have opportunities to serve each other, and others around us – and a responsibility to do so. We are the church. ”

“One of Martin Luther’s great insights was the ‘priesthood of all believers,’” Pastor Chip continued. “I am called ‘pastor,’ but every member has a significant part to play in the work of Christ’s Church. We all have different gifts, and we need to let people develop theirs.

“One way I try to do that is to invite different ‘lay’ (unpaid) people to preach on Sundays. We typically hear from our moderator and the chairs of our board of deacons and our board of trustees each year. Their preaching helps the congregation know who these people are and what motivates their service. Additionally I invite people to speak who may not hold a position, but who have their story to share of how God has been doing something extraordinary in or through them.”

Chip mentioned that lay preachers have the freedom to speak about their own faith journey, a challenge they’ve faced, or whatever else God has been showing them. Community Church members heard several lay preachers this summer due to Chip’s unusually busy travel schedule. The last lay preacher for the summer is Doreen Davis Fuhr, and she will be speaking this Sunday, Aug. 26.

“We’ve enjoyed a wonderful variety of speakers and topics, and I know Doreen’s presentation will be engaging and exceptionally well done,” Chip said. “She is very talented and experienced in theatre and extremely committed to her project.”

Doreen, head deacon at Community Church, said that she will be performing a portion of a one- woman show that she wrote called “The Ecstasy of Santa Teresa.”

“I’ve been working on this play for over a decade,” Doreen explained. “My goal is for it to be a ministerial outreach in churches and school. Through it I hope to share what the amazing16th century nun taught about how to pray, about the importance of having a personal relationship with God, and how to listen to Him more carefully. I also hope to communicate how much God loves us and that there’s no such thing as being beyond repair with God.

“When I started attending Community Church, I heard about the fact that we have not only the right and privilege to pray, but we also have the responsibility to do so,” Doreen continued. “The person cited historically who made that possible was Santa Teresa, who stood up to the Spanish Inquisition, fighting for prayer that included a personal relationship with Jesus, and she never recanted. She had Jewish heritage, and if you were Jewish during the Inquisition, your life was at risk. That interested me too, because I’m also a Jewish Christian.”

Doreen’s interest in Teresa dates back to her mother’s travel stories from the early ’70s. Her mother took a trip to Rome and saw Bernini’s statue “The Ecstasy of Santa Teresa.”

“I was taken by the fact that a nun, who was one of the first two women to be given the title ‘Doctor” by the Catholic Church, was also an amazing businesswoman, and founded 14 convents,” Doreen added. “She was very intriguing to me, and I studied her for 12 years. In 2011 I went to Avila, Spain, Teresa’s hometown. This has all been a real journey for me, and a joy. God gets all the glory.”

“Susan Golian, a woman in our church, is making an historically accurate 16th century nun’s habit,” Doreen said. “We will hear a medieval flute solo composed by another nun famous for her reform, Hildegard of Bingen.”

Doreen loves the lay sermons for getting to know one another.

“It really helps us to see that we all have the same kinds of challenges in life,” she said. “Otherwise we may look at someone and think they haven’t had real problems. It’s a real gift and a special opportunity when someone is willing to share about their life; it’s very deep, rich and revealing. They remind us how much we all need to turn to God.”

For further information, go to cdmucc.org. Cindy can be reached at [email protected]

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