The pandemic has been disruptive for all of us. As a faith community centered around faithful presence and embodied practices, it has certainly felt like a — WHAT!?! What do we do now? How are we to be when we are not able to be with each other and with our neighbor in the ways that we are accustomed to? At the very least, it's been challenging.
And yet...we know that the Spirit is at work even in, perhaps especially in, these times of difficulty, disorientation, and disruption. And as a community, we have leaned into the discomfort to see how God might be forming us in this time. We have collectively journeyed to find new-found interior freedom in the midst of Covid-constraint. We have had to dig deeper to find peace, hope, and joy. We have leaned into the discomfort of anti-racist work in lament and repentance as we have shown up to protests, listened to black voices, and engaged in hard conversations. And in the midst of it all, God has been at work!
G O O D / / N E W S / /
Here are some highlights over the last six months!
▪WIDER & DEEPER NEIGHBOR CONNECTIONS // Although we are so sad that we can't meet weekly for neighborhood dinners, we have seen more neighbors desiring to connect. The outdoor happy hours have been a hit on the street and it's been a beautiful thing to see more and more neighbors connecting! And as we are all stuck in our neighborhoods, the connections we do have are growing richer and deeper!
▪GENEROSITY TO NEIGHBORS // As our neighbors lost income, jobs, and security due to the pandemic, we stepped up as a community to meet needs as we could. We collectively gave $1200 to Turning Point to families in need and we also gave another $1800 in benevolence funds for rent assistance and small grants for those who were laid off. In addition to this, we met some very practical needs — like a bike and helmet for an 11-year-old who didn't have one, some balls and games for Turning Point students, gas and grocery cards for our unhoused friends, and helping a refugee mom navigate the unemployment system.
▪ANTI-RACIST COMMUNITY WORK // The pandemic of racism demands that we as followers of Jesus lament, repent, and then act to participate in the kingdom work of overturning systems of oppression and dismantling white supremacy. We have shown up at local protests. We have connected with Black Lives Matter Shoreline and other neighbors in the community who are deeply committed to this work. And we have hosted a discussion group around Unraveling Racism, doing the hard work of listening, lamenting, and learning. And this is just the beginning!
▪EQUITY IN EDUCATION // As school resumes online, the gaps for students of color and for those who are living at poverty only widen. Turning Point is strategically poised to ensure that all of our children have the opportunity to thrive. As a faith community, we are thrilled to continue to support this work and to continue to be faithful partners. In addition, we are connecting with others in the community who are actively working on educational equity and collaborating to be a part of the transformation in our community. And we are dreaming and conspiring to find funding for a new Turning Point site right here in the neighborhood!
▪FOUNDERS IN BLACK COFFEE NW! // We are also thrilled to let you know that One Cup Coffee has just been bought by black owners who have a vision for a community hub, youth empowerment, and anti-racist work right here in the neighborhood. Their new business, Black Coffee NW, will open in October and The Practicing Church has given $1,000 to be a Founder. After all the prayers and dreams around One Cup Coffee, we are overjoyed to see this goodness unfold before our very eyes! And we get to be a part of it!
▪COMMITMENT TO BE A BLESSING TO OUR COMMUNITY // What this means is that our small church has given away $4,000 in this season — which is over 20% of our total budget! Way to go! Thank you for your generosity. It takes all of us offering the little or plenty that we have to embody love, kindness, and generosity to our community. We hope all of you get in on the goodness! Generosity in the face of fear and scarcity is a powerful thing.
So although we don't know entirely what the future holds (this is 2020 we're talking about!) we can already see that the Spirit is leading us in this time to be a part of God's work of renewal and justice right here on the ground. Nothing can stop the work of God. Not pandemics. Not white supremacy. Not wild fires or hurricanes, politics or presidents.
NOTHING CAN STOP THE WORK OF GOD!
God's river of justice, grace, liberation, mercy, healing, and peace keeps rolling on.
But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream! - Amos 5:24
So be encouraged, my friends. The God who set the sun and the moon and the stars in place and yet who knows the number of hairs on your head is here, present, with us.
I hope you will continue this transformational journey with our community in this season. There will be lots of opportunity to connect - through online gatherings, spiritual direction groups, book discussions, neighborhood presence, activism, and service opportunities.
With much faith, hope, and love,