Who is in charge here?

Who is in charge here?

About 3 years ago I began a mom’s coffee group.  It started as a monthly gathering, but now we gather most weeks for coffee and to talk about anything and everything.  We talk about Jesus and the bible, Erik Estrada, our families, the election, the big things ahead of us like moving or kids changing schools or finding our own purpose and the small things like what tv shows are good to watch while folding laundry. It’s the place where we come together and share about our lives and help each other find a way forward grounded in love.  That sounds like a pretty darn good church to me.  Plus coffee and baked goods.   Some weeks I can’t be there.  Up until recently that meant that the event was canceled.  Lately some of the moms have decided to hold the space open for others while I’m not there.  This week I was away, so a group gathered together.  They decided that they would rather go at a different coffee shop each week, so that is where they met this time.  They talked to the owner of the new place and arranged for her to reserve tables for us each week.  They got her card and said all I needed to do was text her the dates. I was thrilled. This isn’t my group, it’s our group.  I’m not in charge here, we all contribute to make a meaningful experience  that matters enough to folks to keep it going no matter who can make it that week.  This is the goal of my ministry, of my life’s work, to create spaces...
Sunrise

Sunrise

Every year we celebrate an early morning worship at the river on Easter Sunday.  Every one has been special in some way, from the ritual we engage with to helping a homeless girl who was drawn to our singing.  This year as I looked at the 15 folks gathered in the soft morning light, I was once again struck by the beauty of this community.  Standing together singing Alleluia was the first woman to join with us and a family who have been coming for a few months.  They only met each other last week at dinner, and here they were joyfully greeting one another as the beloved community.  With us in the circle was our newest baby, who I had to grudgingly share with one of our oldest folks.  We are weaving something beautiful in this place. Not only was it a gorgeous morning with beautiful singing, we also created reminds of hope to take with us into our lives.  When things seem hopeless, we can remember Mary, weeping at the tomb, certain all hope had died.  And we can remember what came next, Jesus calling her name.  People made butterflies or wrote prayers inside ornaments and these can hang in places where they need reminders.  And a couple of folks let me know this is just what they need right now in their lives, a reminder that in the midst of what seems hopeless Christ calls our name. What started out 4 years ago as a daunting task, is now a vibrant community, on the verge of a new life with Trinity United Methodist Church.  This is a...
Southeast Portland Parish

Southeast Portland Parish

After months of dreaming, praying, researching, discussing, budgeting, writing, and wondering the next phase of Sellwood Faith Community is official! We will be collaborating with Trinity United Methodist, which is just in the next neighborhood over.  I am fortunate enough to be serving with a pastoral team that includes Jeff Lowery and Amanda Bollman as we continue to nurture SFC in its growth and partner with Trinity in the work they have begun to discern what is next for that ministry. Jeff and I began dreaming of a new faith community years ago, and finally were able to launch SFC in 2013.  Amanda became one of the leaders of our community over time.  Together we developed this new vision for the ways a nontraditional faith community could partner with a traditional church to develop and strengthen both communities. The name of this new venture is Southeast Portland Parish. While both SFC and Trinity will continue to exist they are now intertwined in reaching out to the neighborhoods of this part of Portland in a parish model ministry. I will continue to provide the administrative leadership of the parish and take on the majority of pastoral care.  Amanda will be engaging community organizing practices and leading community faith development.  Jeff will continue to coordinate music for SFC’s gatherings, lead the youth group, and coordinate our service experiences.  I will get back to preaching 3 times a month at Trinity, while Amanda will be preaching once a month. I am looking forward to having an office that isn’t in the kitchen.  I am looking forward to getting to know and love a whole...
Ebb & Flow

Ebb & Flow

Sunday evening our house was full of people.  We had to add an additional table so we had enough seats.  As I was retrieving more placemats and delegating the procurement of cups I couldn’t help but smile as the laughter of children, the introduction of new folks, and the reconnections of community members bubbled around me.  The week before it was a very different scene. Just a few of us at the table, having a quiet conversation that ended earlier than our set time. This is our life.  Some weeks I’m caught up in the vibrant energy of the community, other weeks there are just a few of us sharing a different kind of connection.  All of it is wonderful and sacred.  I kind of love the ebb and flow, the unexpected chemistry of each gathering.  One brunch we have 16, the next 5 resulting in totally different dynamics, not to mention totally different food options. Flexibility is the watch word.  I always have enough food on hand in case a big group shows up and we need more, or we have a wildly unbalanced meal, say all bread,  with a small crowd.  Sometimes I change up what I had planned for us to do, taking the size of the gathering in to account. It’s hard, and yet I wouldn’t change it.  People have lives and this community is part of that.  We go with the ebb and flow of real life and I think that is one of the most beautiful gifts of this ministry at SFC....