We are moving through Lent with prayer, fasting and generosity to the poor. And we are moving our Sunday gathering to One Cup Coffee. And much more than a move from one space to another, we are literally moving as a community on this transformational journey into the heart of our neighborhood. We are opening up wider and we are rooting down deeper.
Last Fall, I had a "holy discontent" that propelled our leadership team into a season of active listening and prayer for our next step as a community. For I was longing to create a place of hospitality in the neighborhood beyond our home that would be welcoming to the wider community. This is the Isaiah 61 call of the church: to be a transformational community that proclaims the good news of Jesus to the poor, brings freedom to those who are oppressed, and participates in the work of renewal in the earth.
So one morning in November I had what I believe was a divine appointment. As we were serving coffee, homemade quiche and cinnamon rolls at the THS Methadone Clinic on Aurora, I began to talk with Scott Sund from Bethany Community Church North. I shared how we wanted to be in a community space in the neighborhood and that we would love to worship in a space like One Cup Coffee. What I didn't know was that Scott had been in a discernment process of his own, praying about how the One Cup space could be used for more of God's kingdom purposes.
Surely the Spirit of God was on the move, out ahead of us!
And so after months of conversation, prayers and community discernment, we have seen the doors open wide. Bethany Community Church North is offering the space to us for free for the next 16 months (in Seattle, this is unheard of!). And the cafe reflects many of the attributes we are looking for in a third place. It is welcoming. It is communal. It is aesthetically pleasing. It is accessible. And so we are amazed at God's provision to us through the generosity of Bethany to be able to have a welcoming and visible presence in the neighborhood!
We will begin meeting on Sundays at One Cup Coffee on April 7th at 10:30am!
As I met again with Scott today, we were both reminded of our conversation in November and how the Spirit has been at work. As I listened to more of the story behind One Cup, I was in awe. It seemed like such a bold move for a growing community church who was looking for a meeting place to instead invest in the redemption of a dark place in the neighborhood. This kingdom vision is one that can only be born in prayer, and Scott is a praying man. And so they chose to be a part of the work of transformation and renewal in the neighborhood and to invest more in Monday through Saturday than Sunday. [Does this sound familiar? No wonder we have found ourselves aligned.]
For more of the story, check out these articles:
* Church Moves into Former Colacurcio Strip Club
* Bethany Community Church Gives Former Strip Club a Holy Purpose
We are being invited into a kingdom story.
A story of transformation. A story of community. A story of redemption. A story where we will have every opportunity to practice this radically inclusive gospel — to be a community that is welcoming to the poor, to our neighbors, to the spiritually hungry and to diverse communities. We will continue to root in the neighborhood, to care about this particular patch of earth and the flourishing of this community, joining in God's work of renewal here.
And like all good kingdom stories, it will not be without difficulty or risk. We are leaving behind the comfort of our home to the foreign unknown of Aurora. We are leaving behind a private space to create a public space. We don't know what obstacles we will encounter, what strengths will be called forth, what darkness we will face or what gifts we will receive. For certain, our love will be tested. We aren't entirely sure it will work or if we will be back to where we started. We will have to experiment, learn and iterate. We know it is temporary and so we will be forced to keep journeying. But one thing we can be sure of...
That's because all Kingdom stories are transformative in nature. And while there is much we do not know, here's a few things we do:
We will journey together.
We are the church, and it is obvious as we gather that God has brought us together with God's purposes in mind. And as I look around the room, I feel grateful beyond words.
We will continue to follow Jesus past our comfort zones into the radical way of love.
So much of the Jesus way challenges everything we know and hold dear. And yet we trust that as we surrender our fears, our preferences, our egos, and our need for control, we will receive gifts beyond our wildest imaginations. We will taste heaven here on earth as we become part of the beloved community where all are welcome, regardless of race, culture, gender, sexual-orientation or class.
The Spirit will be faithful to lead us on!
God has given us a compelling story, and it is still being written. God's faithfulness to us is stunning and we have every confidence that God will continue to lead us and guide us every step of the way.
So, Spirit, move! Let heaven come to earth we pray!
We are inviting every one of you in this community to join us in prayer. Next week, we will gather in One Cup on Tuesday at 7pm to pray as a community in that space. We will participate in a community fast Tuesday through Thursday, and then of course, we are continuing to pray with Bethany and with the Northwest Vineyard Churches throughout the 40 days of Lent. We believe that this is a timely and important invitation to the practice of prayer and fasting as we make this transition as a community. So join in!
by Jessica Ketola