We are believers in Jesus Christ who accept all people without judgment and who desire to work and worship as a community striving for social justice.
It is our vision to offer a very healthy spiritual community to the Springfield, Mo. area which embodies the progressive Christian approach to faith as described in the 8 points.. By calling ourselves progressive, we mean that we are Christians who:
- Have found an approach to God through the life and teachings of Jesus.
- Recognize the faithfulness of other people who have other names for the way to God's realm, and acknowledge that their ways are true for them, as our ways are true for us.
- Understand our sharing of bread and wine in Jesus' name to be a representation of God's feast for all peoples.
- Invite all people to participate in our community and worship life without insisting that they become like us in order to be acceptable (including but not limited to):
Believers and agnostics,
Conventional Christians and questioning skeptics,
Women and men,
Those of all sexual orientations and gender identities,
Those of all races and cultures,
Those of all classes and abilities,
Those who hope for a better world and those who have lost hope.
- Think that the way we treat one another and other people is the fullest expression of our beliefs.
- Find more grace in the search for meaning than in absolute certainty, in the questions than in the answers.
- See ourselves as a spiritual community in which we discover the resources required for our work in the world: striving for justice and peace among all people; bringing hope to those Jesus called the least of his sisters and brothers.
- Recognize that being followers of Jesus is costly, and entails selfless love, conscientious resistance to evil and renunciation of privilege.
Dr. Roger Ray holds masters and doctoral degrees in divinity from Vanderbilt University as well as a bachelors in philosophy from Murray State University. He was a 2004 Merriell Fellow at Harvard Divinity School. His most recent book, Progressive Faith and Practice has led to many invitations to speak both in the United States and in Great Britain. Dr. Ray wrote an ethics column for the Springfield News-Leader for more than 20 years and has had many sermons published in professional preaching journals over his long career. He had 28 years of experience in pastoral ministry before becoming the founding pastor of Community Christian Church in August of 2008.
is a native of Mansfield, Missouri who has performed throughout the world. He made his European solo debut singing Don Ottavio on Mozart's Don Giovanni in Hartberg, Austria and Doge in Rossini's Otello in Bad Wildbad, Germany alongside his brother who sang the title role. In 2007 he toured Japan with the Baden Stadttheater performing the role of Gastone in La Traviata and also sang as a tenor ensemble soloist with the Arnold Schoenberg Choir at the Aix en Provence Festival. Sean received his Masters of Music in Opera Performance in 2004 from Wichita State University and his bachelors in music from Drury University in 2001. He currently lives in Springfield.
hails from Denver and Crestone, Colo. Barry currently enjoys the artistic and spiritual freedom of the Community Christian Church where he continues a fifty year career in church music. Barry also teaches applied piano for music therapy at Drury University and personalized piano lessons for all ages to the general public. Barry is a presenter in master classes, historical improvisation treatises, and music memory techniques. In advanced music study, Barry is the third generation of piano tutorial lineage coming from Franz Liszt and Bela Bartok. He has a Bachelor of Music degree in piano performance and has advanced studies in pipe organ, clavichord, accordion and pre-baroque keyboard and wind instruments. Barry promotes music education as being an integral part of anyone's life at any time. His current interests and associations include the American Recorder Society, Organ Historical Society, Reed Organ Society, recycling and green home building.
Rev. Dr. Roger L. Ray
Community Christian Church
4806 E. Cherry St.
Springfield, MO 65809
Go east on Cherry St. from the intersection of Cherry and Eastgate for two miles. The church is almost a mile east of the Hickory Hills Country Club and is on the south side of the street.
Symbols are important.† As we started to move towards launching our new church, our resident artist, Nancy Pate, and I started looking through the myriad offerings of religious art for a symbol we could use for our church.
Eventually, Nancy invited me to come meet with an acquaintance of hers, Carol Bormann, a local artist who works in fabrics and fiber whose specialty has been in religious vestments. We talked with her about the character of our church and how we wanted to create banners which would have a stained-glass feel to them to help us create our worship space. Ideally, we wanted to have a series of banners but the first one was to somehow symbolize who we are as a community, as Christians and as a church.
Ms. Bormann began playing around with images of interlocking hands or a chain of hands, finally bringing the hands into a circle which creates a cross in the center surrounded by blocks of color which suggest stained glass. Nancy Pate and I do not always agree but when we saw this image all either of us could say is, "It's perfect." We commissioned two banners which were to imitate in shape and color the classic art form of stained glass windows to help make our windowless meeting place feel more like a church.
The first banner expresses the concept of our church as an inclusive Christian community. The four diversely colored hands come together in a circle forming a cross at the center. I was struck nearly speechless when I first saw it because it seems to perfectly symbolize our self understanding. The four circled hands has become the symbol I have embraced for use on our stationary, on my professional cards and I hope it will be something which generations who follow us in this congregation will treasure as a theological statement of our unity and inclusiveness.
The second banner has a more challenging evolution. Each of the four gospels has been represented in various forms of art through the centuries. Matthew is symbolized as an angel, an eagle represents John and Luke's symbol is a bull. Mark's gospel has been identified with a winged lion, usually resting one paw on a book. The winged lion has appeared in other cultures and as someone who has collected lions in all of my international travels, I have found that there is a huge diversity of the use of lions in art even from cultures and countries where lions have never lived.
I suggested the lion to Ms. Bormann because it does symbolize one of the gospels but also because we are a church committed to a prophetic witness to social justice. The lion represents courage and the kind of power one should not readily dismiss. But we didn't want the book that our winged lion appeared with to be just one of the gospels or just one passage of scripture. We agreed on using a phrase with the Nobel Prize winning author, Elie Wiesel, has said captures the ethics of the whole Bible, "Thou shalt not stand idly by." Wiesel applied it specifically to the Jewish holocaust of the 20th century but it applies to every example of outrageous injustice and such tragedies can only happen if persons of conscience are willing to remain silent and inactive. We are as a church determined to never stand idly by. With the strength and courage of the lion we will get involved where we are needed. I hope that our witness affirms the symbols we have chosen!
The Community Christian Church operates on the donations of those who decide to support us. Anyone can make a tax deductible donation either in person or by sending a check to the church office at 4806 E. Cherry, Springfield, MO 65809. If you wish to designate your gift for something other than our operational expenses we generally have a "wish list" of items we would like to acquire. A current list is always available by writing to our pastor at RevDrRay@aol.com
Others sometimes designate their gifts to support our ministry with Bill's Place or Crosslines or to help retire the mortgage on our building.
The Community Christian Church of Springfield, Missouri was born out of the need for a progressive spiritual community in this area. Our founding pastor, Dr. Roger Ray, resigned from ministry in a Disciples of Christ church in the summer of 2007 and immediately began holding book studies and discussion groups to locate persons in Springfield who might be interested in forming a new and different kind of church.
Small groups met, first in the basement of St. Paul's United Methodist Church, then in the Unitarian Church and finally in the old Washington Ave. Church on the campus of Drury University. Finally, after forming a consensus around a mission and vision statement the congregation held its first worship service on August 3, 2008 in the chapel of the Gorman-Scharpf Funeral Home. The discussion group had rarely boasted more than a dozen people in attendance but there were more than 50 interested persons at the first service.
To define the church's character as a social justice advocate, donations of shoes for children in Nicaragua were collected on the first Sunday. The congregation immediately accepted the challenge of raising $25,000 to build a playground for the children of the homeless residents at the Missouri Hotel. It was important to us to make sacrifices for others before we so much as owned our own hymnals. The congregation quickly became involved in serving the homeless population on a weekly basis at Bill's Place and participating in monthly distributions of food at Crosslines.
Since interest in the church continued to stay strong through its first months, the decision was made to rent space in the Executive Conference Center where the congregation met for services from October of 2008 until purchasing the church property at 4806 E. Cherry St. in early 2010.
We considered ourselves to be very fortunate to find a Jehovah's Witnesses church property for sale in a nice east side location. The property, which was in need of substantial repair, was purchased in January and was under re-construction for two months. The first service in the new church was March 7, 2010 and 172 people filled the small sanctuary.
Finding and attracting progressive thinkers in the typically conservative Ozarks continues to be our challenge but we look forward to numerical growth and expanded ministries in the years ahead.