Gary GruberAging Celebrations ChangeCOMMUNITIES OF COMMON CONCERN
August 1 , 2023 /


A new and emerging Church of Three C’s: Communion, Care and Compassion

Old Churches have those Characteristics too when they are at their best.


It looks like my keyboard is stuck on the letter C.  However, I trust it will become Clear how this has Come about, why and how this has Converged.   First a word about Church.  It has a Complicated history. It is probably derived from Old English “cirice,” which in turn came from the German “kirika,” which likely came from the Greek “kuriake,” which means “of the Lord.” Some scholars dispute this, saying that our English word derives from the Anglo-Saxon “kirke,” which in turn comes from the Latin “circus.”

The idea that the words “church” and “circus” are related seems fitting. Sometimes, a church is like a circus and I’ll leave it at that.  However, the oldest word for church is completely unrelated to any of these derivations.

The oldest word for church, the word that the apostle Paul in the New Testament used, is the Greek word ἐκκλησία “ecclesia” from which we get the terms “ecclesial” and “ecclesiastical.” The word was in use centuries before the Christian church appeared on the scene. It referred to a socio-political gathering or assembly of citizens, who were called together to attend to the concerns of their city or their local community.  What we have emerging in recent years are new forms of “churches” or what I call “communities of common concerns.”



What prompted this piece, which is good background, is this series by Jessica Grose in the NYTimes about people leaving traditional religious communities and either creating or finding new ones,


  1. We commune and communicate because as social beings we have a need to connect. It is part of our nature as human beings.  We do this through groups and gatherings around common understandings about beliefs.  Consider the history of religions and their origins, from that of indigenous people on all seven continents to early Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist traditions with so many differences, even more similarities.  These gatherings are formal and informal with associated rituals, organizations, systems and in many cases, trained and recognized leaders.


These world religions have many common myths and other stories, sacred texts and other religious writings (such as formal creeds), rituals, symbols, social structures, ethical principles and oral or written codes of behavior, and religious experiences and spirituality. Most have the sentiment “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” as a principle for ethical behavior although the words and language may be different. Prayer and meditation are often part of a particular practice.


  1. We also communicate our common concerns by sharing our beliefs, whether religious, spiritual, social, vocational or political. Local groups gather sometimes by proximity in different settings and, with the advent of the internet, many groups now have a global identity.  We may belong to one of more of these groups because we find people there with similar interests. These communities are characterized by mutual respect, authenticity, and the capacity to listen to one another by sharing and understanding. These communities offer support and encouragement, being present for assistance if needed, and helping other members work toward their expressed goals and desires.


  1. Another type of community of common concern is characterized by caring and compassion, people walking through challenges with along with others. That may be a spouse, a companion or friend or neighbor and when home is no more what it was, creating a sense of coming home or the feeling of being home again.  As Ram Dass said, “We are all just walking each other home.”   Compassion in the face of illness, and finally death and loss, helps to fill the void with meaningful connections.  These kinds of communities of sharing and caring created designs for living comfortably in later years regardless of where one chooses to live.   You can find these communities in many places, some of which provide three levels of living – independent, assisted and final care with trained medical supervision.


Many people have studied and written extensively about people leaving religion or leaving their faith traditions.  I believe it is more about religions leaving people by not changing and evolving into different forms.  Some of these different forms have appeared with a connection to or support from traditional, organized religious organizations and others without any religious identity whatsoever.  These relatively new communities look and smell familiar.  FAMILIAR – FAMILIAL – FAMILY


That I grew up in a family that was a member of a larger church family left an indelible imprint on my perspective that shifted when I left the organized “church” while retaining a different kind of connection.  I have come full circle now from early days in a church and several years of theological studies, having left that behind.  I have come back in a different form to a different form as I looked for and found communities that gathered, connected, and communicated around shared concerns. This kind of experience adds to the quality of life at any age and especially in one’s later years.  If you would like additional information or details, feel free to ask a question in the comment section below or send an email, whatever works for you.



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