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Murrysville pastor aims to connect with 'spiritual, but not religious'

| Monday, Sept. 5, 2011

At a time marked by Facebook updates, Tweets and rapid-fire e-mail conversations, a quiet moment is hard to come by.

That's something the Rev. Joe Hedden wants to change.

"It's one of the double-edged swords of modern life," said Hedden, pastor at Emmanuel Reformed Church in Murrysville.

"We're more connected with people than ever with Facebook and e-mail and the Internet; but on the other hand, you can go all day without having a real, deep conversation face-to-face with someone. One of the most difficult things is to carve out a time to have those things, and I think a lot of people in our culture feel the same way."

That's where the Emmanuel's Emergent Experience comes in.

The monthly service features a multimedia presentation while Hedden delivers a message about getting right with God and is designed for people who are "spiritual, but not religious."

"This is aimed toward people who maybe have been out of the church for a long time or have never been to church," Hedden said. "They consider themselves spiritual, but don't belong to a religious group."

After a coffee reception, the service opens with recorded music to help get people centered.

There will be a participation portion toward the end of the service, Hedden said, so visitors can "take something away from the service to think on during the week."

While it's the first Emergent Experience service offered at Emmanuel Reformed, Hedden offered similar programs before at his previous church.

He thinks Murrysville is the perfect place for the casual service.

"Murrysville is a place that's very technologically savvy, but also a busy place," Hedden said.

"Trying to carve out some time might be attractive here."

The service isn't for everyone, the pastor said. He calls the program "high-tech, high-touch" and very personal.

"There's a personal connection that's made," Hedden said. "You're not just a number."

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