Pilgrim House

9/8 at 4:30 in Dell Rapids

The human journey is long and challenging. For people of faith, churches can often serve as a place of connection, belonging, and comfort for that journey. But many forms of Christianity in the United States have become so institutionalized that people who are simply trying to follow Jesus’ example are leaving the church demoralized.

Does that describe you? Are you tired of:

  • Infighting over theologies, doctrinal positions, or social issues?
  • Feeling anxious or stressed about maintaining an institution whose primary goal seems to be self-preservation at almost any cost?
  • Worn out by using your time and money propping up buildings that are only used a handful of times a month, and wonder if your giving could be put to better use?
  • Business meetings with complex decision-making processes that cause more frustration than actually accomplish anything?

Some churches attempt to resolve these issues with spiritualized language around building consensus, listening to every voice, or conflict mediation that never appropriately stops the aggression and bullying that happens in too many congregations. The root of the problem – the narcissistic institutionalization of a movement started by a community-building, self-sacrificing, homeless middle-easterner – is never really addressed, and the bullying, aggression, and anxiety continues unabated.

Many good and hard-working people who are already exhausted from carrying the weight of ministry are inflicted with more wounds and pain. Entrenchment becomes the status quo. The result? A wounded and hurting group of Jesus-followers, burned out by institutions and never wanting to return, struggling with the call of faith and the desire for beauty and community.

Pilgrim House recognizes that faith itself is best described as a pilgrimage, a sacred journey, not an institution. For people of faith through human history a pilgrimage was a time of spiritual work and renewal. It was intentional and purpose-filled. Pilgrim House is a stopping place for people along that journey for nourishment. It is a place of liturgy, renewal, and spirituality for people who long for the deep beauty of worship and sacrament, story and song, without the strain of bureaucracy, institutional maintenance, or the anxiety of confrontation around hot-button issues or power struggles. It is a gathering of the church without membership, elections, or bylaws. It is a gathering of the church for people who give themselves in service of Jesus’ ministry of nonviolence, justice, and compassion, and who long for a space to receive refreshment, renewal, and hope. It is a place for those who have been broken and wounded by institutional churches and don’t want to go back. It is a place for faith formation without the judgment of the faith in which you are being formed. It is joyful, sacramental, and progressive. It’s a time for open questions, open arms, and no “church business.”

It’s not a place for everyone, and that’s okay.

Each Pilgrim House gathering is a liturgy centered around a meal. It consists of a potluck supper, sharing stories (both from the Bible and from each other), communion, and singing. It is Eucharistic (meal-centered) and follows patterns of worship from the ancient church. The liturgy is celebrated each time by Dr. Christopher Montgomery, OSL, a experienced pastor, expert in worship and spirituality, and a victim of “the building matters most” philosophy of ministry during his tenure in congregational leadership.

Pilgrim House is not an institutional congregation; it is a ministry of compassion and hope to those who spend their pilgrimage giving compassion and hope to others. Because it is not an institutional congregation, persons have an opportunity to share during the meal how they are planning to give, either in time or money, to the service of peace, justice, and love during the week.

For more information about Pilgrim House, for directions to the next gathering, or for information on hosting a Pilgrim House gathering in your own home, please complete the contact information below.

(Those who wish to support the ministry of Pilgrim House offered by Dr. Montgomery, as well his writing and liturgical renewal work may do so electronically via the PayPal link to the right. Your support is greatly appreciated!)