This Experiment is Working

Our discipleship model, the rhythm of how our community functions, is network, gateway, commitment. We start by making connections.  I do this by showing up at school, being on the PTA, volunteering at the Portland Art Museum, shopping at local businesses, serving on nonprofit boards, doing intake at a clinic for folks on the margins, and maintaining an active social media presence.  All of this allows me to meet new people and build relationships.  Others in our community do this work in a variety of ways.  We are intentional about making space in our lives to form relationships with others, and to be looking for new ways to connect and therefore learn about our communities.  This has an effect of putting us in touch with people who may want to be part of our faith community. Most importantly networking allows us to live love in lots of ways with a wide range of people.  Most of the folks we network with never become part of SFC, yet the ways we get to be present and share light and life are rich and part of the gift of this way of being church. After we build relationships and connections we begin to see people who might be interested in some spiritual exploration.  We invite them in to a night at a bar talking about theology, or a hike in the woods with moments of meditation and reflection, or a worship experience based on silence and chanting, or a conversation about a book, or a project serving our neighbors.  These are way that folks can begin to experience this community and...

Night Reflections

Stars Sometimes on warm summer nights I like to go for walks after dark.  Our neighborhood, which I love, becomes another, more magical place on nights like this.  In the dark I notice things I don’t in my daily walks.  I see shadows from the street lights, or a back room lit up in a business. The warm glow of my neighbors’ windows are comforting as are the twinkle lights peeking out from porch rails.  The crickets chirps and soft floral scents waft through the air. The people I pass on my late evening walks are different too.  Instead of moms with strollers and retired couples there are people running with their dogs. folks spilling out from the bar down the street, and a group of our homeless neighbors lounging on the benches.   I’m reminded on these walks that the streets that sometimes bore me after walking down them everyday still have secrets and hidden beauty.   I also am reminded that this place I live is more than what I encounter in my little bubble life.  My routines and patterns are beautiful things, but they contain only so much of what is. On my most recent walk I captured some photos.  I hope you enjoy them and I hope they cause you to think about new ways to see the mundane, every day places of your life. -Eilidh Coffee Tulip Sign Twinkle...

Planning 500 Years Ahead

We just got back from a camping trip to Redwoods National and State Parks.  One of the nights there we attended the campfire program about the old growth forest led by Ranger Brad.  The program really helped me to learn more not just about the old growth forest, but about the national park service as well.  What really struck me was the way we began by talking about community.  Ranger Brad reminded us that it was the work of communities that saved these trees in the first place.  He also let us know that we were a community of campers, who were enjoying the trees and sharing their beauty and importance with others.  He said, “Isn’t it amazing to be a part of something that is bigger than ourselves?”   I’m in the business of community too, so this really resonated with me.  It’s not just about trees or the ecosystem, but it’s about how we connect to it all and how we work together for something greater than our individual selves. The other fascinating piece of the program (aside from learning about fungus) was the fact that Redwoods is unique in our park system.  While the majority of our other national parks were created to preserve pristine environments, Redwoods was logged significantly.  It was created to restore an environment as well as preserve one.  Right now very smart people are working to help the park return to the climax environment of an old growth forest.  This means removing roads, returning logs to streams, and much more.  Ranger Brad said that the national parks service is the only government...

Our Next Venture

This fall we will begin our next big thing at Sellwood.  Starting in late August we will be partnering with the New City Initiative‘s Village Support Network to support a homeless family as they transition from a shelter in to housing. We’ll do practical things like help the family move and hold a house warming for them.  We’ll also do fun things like a bowling night together and a pizza party.  Over the course of six months or more our team will meet with the family to set goals and take action.  We’ll help them connect to resources and get to know them as beloved people of God. Not everyone in our community is on the Village Support Network team, and that is one of the things I love about Sellwood Faith Community.  Even though we are small we are clear about our call and our ability to each seek fulfilling ministry.  Not everyone has to do everything, which makes us able to learn from each other’s ministries and be inspired in our own path. I’m sure that this partnership will be a transformational one for the folks engaged on the team, and for the rest of our community as we hear the story unfold and offer support to the supporters. Would a partnership with any of the New City Initiative’s be right for your call?  Check them out and join us in creating space for change! -Eilidh...

Coming Home Again

Last week I attended my 20th High School reunion.  My friend Matt suggested I use the reunion as the theme for my sermon the following day.  I had already finished work on Sunday morning, so instead I thought I would use his advice for this blog. Going to my reunion was an eye opening experience.  Looking at some of my classmates it’s clear that we are heading to middle age.  There is a lot less hair than there used to be.  And some of it is much grayer.  There are also fewer of us.  Out of a little over 350 students 6 have passed away in the 20 years since graduation.  Suicide, brain cancer, congenital conditions, and other causes have come to call on the class of 1995.  We’ve lost some amazing folks.  Faith communities are the places that step into the reality of our lives and deaths.  Life is short and fast and can be tragic.  We need places to celebrate life and to help us deal with our own impending death.  We need places that help us use the time we have in the ways that we are called to live.  This is what we strive to be at Sellwood Faith Community. Beyond the realities of mortality that the reunion brought up I was once again reminded of the visceral power of music.  The DJ played hits from the early 90’s and, upon hearing Blame It On The Rain I was transported back to my junior high gym and the first awkward school dance. I remembered car rides and study breaks and singing at the top of...