Dear Beloved Community,
It’s hard to believe that it is once again the time to send this note and share with you about our community’s year. I must confess that this year I found it harder than usual to put to words what exactly I should tell you.
I could tell you that in some ways this year has been harder—that we have worked more, adapted more, and bended more than ever before. I could tell you about how we have been meeting exclusively outdoors in the rain, the cold, and the heat–packing and unpacking our supplies from a mobile trailer each day. I could tell you about how we lost our Food Truck in an accident, mere weeks after serving our community from its window. I could tell you of the endless hours we have searched for new rental properties, and the many doors and opportunities closed in our faces. I could tell you that our rent will increase significantly in the coming year, and how we still so desperately yearn for a place of our own. I could tell you of the powers we daily combat and the pressures from those who refuse to know and love us as their neighbors.
I could tell you of our year through this lens, yes. Sharing these details wouldn’t be untrue, and perhaps, it would even solicit some sympathy and prayers—we need them. However, sharing only our hardships would be an injustice to the beauty and life sprouting forth from our little church. For in this year of too many cold nights and harsh letdowns, our community continues to thrive nonetheless. It is almost as if there is grace here.
So let me tell you of some other things. Let me tell you how we have become a place families call their church home—how, on Sunday mornings, children run around and serve lemonade to their friends without housing and each other alike. Let me tell you about how, despite being outdoors, we have created warm, welcome spaces for people to come and relax in a city that makes less and less space to just ‘be’—how on any given weekday, the back parking lot where we meet feels akin to a cozy outdoor coffee shop filled with laughter, music, and the best breakfast in town. Let me tell you about the many new members, visitors, volunteers, and interns (housed and still unhoused) who have found purpose and belonging in our diverse and quirky community. Let me tell you about the deep theology, thoughtful artwork, and powerful music our community creates and shares. Let me tell you how we are grounded in the confidence of knowing that the ways we care for and support one another matter. Let me tell you how we showed up for one another when few other churches were thinking as creatively as us. Let me tell you how, even when we do not always get it right, we try to lead with compassion and grace. Let me tell you how our church has thrived in the wilderness because of the grace of God.
So, there you have it. Perhaps I struggled to share these words, because such things are better understood when experienced in our community. Embodied, you know what it is to shiver and laugh at the same time, to feel heartbreak and hope simultaneously, to sing so loud that you combat the rain. Still, I hope to have given you a glimpse of how God is still at work in our humble community–how grace abounds here yet.
As we continue to adapt, continue to search for a home of our own, as our rent increases, but we continue to show up day in and day out, we hope you’ll consider continuing (or beginning) to support our work in some small way. Truly we have found that the smallest of gifts, put together and shared, make a difference that is meaningful to many.
And, on behalf of Pastor Chad, Pastor Holly, myself, and the entire community–thank you! Thank you for believing in our little community and for praying for us. Thank you for considering contributing to our work. Your simple generosity helps to empower all the many ways we show up for one another, and all the ways we create hospitality and welcome, even in the wilderness, the back-alleys, and church parking lots.
Brittany Fiscus-van Rossum