God’s Great Big World

Last year we were deeply saddened and greatly angered by the shootings at Mother Bethel AME in Charleston.  In our despair we felt called to do something as a faith community and so we started by reading the life changing book Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God by Kelly Brown Douglas.  Learning about God’s world through history and through the experience of another person helps us to experience more of God’s fullness.  Members of our community have gone on to participate in Black Lives Matter protests and we purchased a sign for the SFC house.  These are small, insignificant steps on a journey to live into the vision of God’s just Kingdom.  We are still working on ways we can authentically walk with our brothers and sisters as we struggle with race and power in our country. The suffering of our refugee brothers and sisters has also called the Sellwood Faith Community. Our hope is to work with a local agency later this year to partner with a refugee family coming to Portland.  As we learn more about who God is and how God’s hope and justice is at work in this world of heartache and suffering we will be reading Outcasts United by Warren St. John.  This book even has a young adult version we’ll be giving out to our youth group kiddos to help foster family discussions at home.  As we read the story of a soccer team from one small town in Georgia that became a refugee resettlement community in the 90’s, we will encounter more of God in the life beyond our...

Spending Small

One of the big issues in new start work is money.  Not only is it the issue of how much it costs to start something from nothing, but then comes the question of sustainable funding.  How long should a grant run? And what should be paid for in a new church start anyway? There are lots of experts out there with funding plans and data about giving and community growth. Being who I am and having a good Scottish heritage that lends its self to a frugal mindset I’m most focused on making sure the resources we have are used well and making the most of the least. If you come to our house I’m likely to tell you that the paint we got was only 5 dollars since it was a mis-mixed can. Instead of paying $6 a knob for a new look for our kitchen cabinets I simply bought a $6 can of spray paint and made all 22 look new.  We’ve now taken the paint off for another new look- and it was free!  Jeff spends most of September strategizing how to use the remaining coupons in our Chinook Book before they expire in October.  Our vacations are usually one free ticket from miles, one full price ticket, and one companion ticket for having the airline credit card.  We pride ourselves on trying to live well, yet wisely.  This same ethos is in the funding model we created and in the way we live at SFC. The past year I came up with a plan that would have been able to continue the new start with...

Serving Our Community This Fall

Here at Sellwood Faith Community we love the Oregon Food Bank.  We’ve spent many Saturdays putting frozen food in to 2 pound bags for distribution at sites across the state.  Kids 6 and up can come work at the food bank and it’s been lovely to have a wide range of our community and friends working together to help fellow Oregonians in need.  If you are local and have never been I encourage you to consider giving 4 hours to make a big impact on food insecurity in our state. http://www.oregonfoodbank.org/volunteer SFC will continue to support the food bank, but this fall we are trying a new set of service experiences.  The food bank is low risk work, meaning that while we are doing good and helping our neighbors in need the chance for us to have a transformational experience while serving is lower.  When we serve in ways that allow us to meet and connect with people who are on the margins or who are not from the places where we are from there is more of a chance for God to touch our hearts and for us to learn in ways that can cause spiritual and social transformation.  I can believe a lot of things about homeless people, but when I was at Veneta and having dinner with our homeless folks each week they became people with names and stories who were my neighbors.  This meant that when we were discussing our homeless problem in city meetings and in public places my contribution to the conversation was shaped by my service experiences. All kinds of services experiences...

The Numbers Game

Last week saw the return of the staff meeting!  Jeff and I sat down and spent about 4 hours planning and working on the coming year at SFC. One of the new things we’ll be doing is an emergent worship experience on Wednesday nights once a month.  We both have missed the creative worship we led when we lived in Boise, so we’re trying it out here.  As part of the long term planning around worship we’re brainstorming places we could gather in the future as needed, such as in an area church or a local business. This is because we are at 40 potential participants.  These are people and their families who come frequently enough that they would be called constituents in a traditional church, if not members. Our home is lovely, and while it fits us for brunch and dinner if everyone came to one event we’d be a little squished.  This is not necessarily a problem.  We’re a group that laughs and makes do, so being tight around the altar would work.  The problem comes in creating a space that is welcoming to the people God is sending to us in a week or a month or a year. In more than one training, book, and class I’ve learned about the psychology of space.  Folks need to feel like there is room for them within a gathering, group, or institution.  In worship the stat I’ve heard is that there needs to be about 20% open seats for a new person to feel like there is enough room.  And this does not count the front row if...

Coloring Time

As the summer begins to wind down I’m working on creating practices for continued self-care.  When we were training to be new start pastors we heard over and over again about the need for balance and healthy practices.  It’s easy to let the work overwhelm everything else.  Even knowing the pitfalls I’ve still struggled some times to have a healthy balance. As we begin a new year in this appointment I’m trying to set up some ways to keep the balance. Last winter I ordered the Sacred Ordinary Days planner. One of the things I love about this planner is the idea or finding rest or reward at the completion of each item on my to do list.  For example once I finish writing this blog I a going to take a walk.  One of my favorite things to do for rest and reward is to color.  I have not been very good at following through with coloring though, so this week I’m working to make it easier to do so. The first step was making space for coloring.  I brought back a new book shelf from my mom’s house in Boise and have spent the past day reorganizing my office.  Making more space on my desk means when I want to color it will be easier to just grab a book and take some deep breaths.  I bought some new pens and found a good place to keep them, so finding the tools I needs simpler.  I also ordered a new kind of coloring book with black background to add some excitement to my line up of choices....