Conversation

Since the beginning of September members of Morningside gathered every Sunday after worship for about an hour to discuss Emergence Christianity based on Phyllis Tickle’s recent publication. All of this emerged after, Kathleen Johnson and I attended Annual Conference in Idaho. There are many questions that continuously plague religion, its current state, progression, and the future. This class was to do precisely that. The fabulous part was that it would be done so from various perspectives, children who grew up in the church, those who joined at a later time in their life, some coming from other denominations, and we even had two generations from the same family, all of this was a prescription for juicy dialogue.

At Starbucks, as we were most weeks, planning that week's lesson for Emergence Christianity.
At Starbucks, as we were most weeks, planning that week’s lesson for Emergence Christianity.

We began every lesson with a word, which members would describe in a word, phrase, sentence or so. Space. Spirit. Hyphen. The list went on. This structure allowed for everyone to start of participating in a easily facilitated way. With the word of the day in mind we would watch 5-15 minutes of a video, where Phyllis Tickle describes the movement. During the discussion is when things got interesting. In these moments we began to see the acceptance, attempts being made at understanding and discoveries. We had one instance where one of the youth asked what was the difference between, God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit; the Trinity which is a prominent concept within Christianity. Instead of laughing off what some would call a “silly” or “stupid” question, Betty Funk confessed that there is no one answer. People’s perspectives of these roles within Christianity vary from person to person and since it is history, no one can truly be 100% sure of what occurred at the time. Having an elder verify the mystery that comes with religion yet they have faith gave the youth some ease. Lifelong members do not have all the answers and continuously encourage  questioning of what and how things are.

Technology, pub churches, house churches, Hyphenateds, Trinity, Liberation Theology, authority, hierarchy, structure, buildings, spontaneity versus consistency along with many others were all discussion points. The environment of the class was so open-minded that everyone felt comfortable stating their views even though they were in opposition to others. The love was very well captivated in the expression “I do not agree with my sister…” showing our relation to each other within the Kingdom of God.

Repeatedly this is why I feel blessed, because no matter what I believe, do not believe or question, Morningside is open to discussing and allowing my self exploration to find the answer that suits me. This is what the class allowed all of us to do, while learning about the past and how Christianity continues to expand. The comrade that was established during these lessons was priceless.

Members of the congregation whom I did not truly know or had held conversations with were now people that I was discussing some of my deepest questions and opinions with. This went for all of us to a different extent. The bond that was created is only the beginning. During our last lesson we expressed our emotions towards each other, the countless discussions and empowering conversation allowed each of us to gain knowledge on the past, present, and future.

The primary component, “Emergence Christianity is a human conversation among human conversant” was entirely what we practiced most prominently. The class was centered on people speaking because Emergence Christianity is about exploration. We plan on continuing this exploration and developing a Mentor Program in which an older member of the congregation will partner with a youth. This will help them develop a relationship but additionally possibly once a month, have one of those partnerships host a gathering where we will continue to engage in dialogue and continue to seek answers to questions that plague our minds.

Maggie Johnson, Lupe, Deborah Logan, Me, Kathleen, Tamara Funk, Betty, Jonathon Thompson, Eugenia, Iris Gibson, Kira Kinney (not pictured, Duane Medicine Crow and Agnes)
Maggie Johnson, Lupe, Deborah Logan, Me, Kathleen, Tamara Funk, Betty, Jonathon Thompson, Eugenia, Iris Gibson, Kira Kinney (not pictured, Duane Medicine Crow and Agnes)

And as one of my favorite persons in the world said, “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds.”

♥ ♪ ♈ † ~Yajaira

Walk To Remember

“You’ll never walk alone”  that is the mission of Alzheimer’s Network of Oregon http://alznet.org/ . This past Saturday, many members of the Salem, Oregon community participated to bring awareness and support those associated with Alzheimer from caregivers to people affected with the disease. TEAM DIANE was a great success! With 36 walkers and 55 members total! Plus the team came in second regarding donations, we raised $1,456!!!!

Many people associate this disease with the elderly and often times it is not identified, instead people play it off as “they are just getting old and losing their memory.” But Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging, instead it is an attack on one’s brain nerve cells and doesn’t allow for connection with other cells. Alzheimer’s is part of the Top 10 leading causes of death within the U.S. Many people develop co-existing illnesses and the disease progresses in between 2-20 years. For each individual diagnosed with Alzheimer there is 1-4 people who are caregivers, often times it is family members but that is not always the case. A Walk to Remember is important because it shows that it matters, losing one’s memory is something no one wishes but it is up to us to aid in whatever way we can, raising funds for a cure, to take care of those who don’t have family who can do so and so on! For more information: http://www.alz.org/.

 

“Was it you or I who stumbled first? It does not matter. The one of us who finds the strength to get up first, must help the other.” ~Vera Nazarian

 

Eliminating Hunger

On September 8th members of the Morningside United Methodist Church distributed paper bags to their neighbors with a flyer of items that Hope Station of Salem, Oregon sought to be donated. Many volunteers collaborated with the church’s youth group to place these bags on the doorsteps of our neighbors. Along with it being a community service opportunity to eliminate hunger it was a great activity for the youth to bond and get to know members of our congregation, Eugenia expressed that she found Kelly Freels to be a super nice person who was fun to drive and deliver bags with.

Youth with collected items
Youth with collected items

The following Sunday after worship, September 15th the youth once again partnered with members of the congregation to pick up the bags. The first couple blocks that were picked up, I was a bit worried because not many bags were picked up but as the youth and members picked up from more neighborhoods more and more items were donated.

Following the pickups the youth provided a potluck lunch for the volunteers! The following morning Jan Nelson, George and Brigitte Rolph and I all loaded the items into their van to deliver to Hope Station.

Brigitte, Me, and George with a fully loaded van of items for Hope Station.
Brigitte, Me, and George with a fully loaded van of items for Hope Station.

WE COLLECTED 508 POUNDS!!!!!!

Hunger is an issue that affects many and the small town of Salem, Oregon is no exception. Though we might not be aware we probably all know someone who has faced hunger at some point in their life. There are kids whose only meal is when they are at school, who eat the same meal everyday or whom use places as Hope Station but it is unknown because of the embarrassment they feel with the stereotype that comes with recipients of food donations. That is reality. Overall, in Oregon, children are the most affected, those under the age of 17 hold the highest percentage of recipients from places as Hope Station and other food banks in the state. Surprisingly, many households who have two working parents are also recipients in large quantities of donations from the food bank. No one should have to face going hungry. Let’s all do our part to love and care for our neighbors!

For more information please see: http://www.hopestationcsi.org/ AND http://www.oregonfoodbank.org/~/media/Files/Publications/2012%20Profiles%20of%20Hunger%20and%20Poverty%20in%20Oregonpdf.pdf AND http://www.oregonfoodbank.org/?c=130239478384099226 

“O God, to those who have hunger, give bread, and to us who have bread, give the hunger for justice.”
~ Prayer from Latin America

It’s A Verb Not A Noun

I have become refreshed my the constant reflection that attending worship has produced. Pastor Wendy is a breathe of fresh air and is constantly challenging me to grow in my faith. One of the best treasures of being part of a reconciling Methodist congregation are the constant conversations of how, what, why etc.

This past Sunday, the “Mystery of Faith” was discussed. It means many things to many people; what they believe and  interpret and how they reflect God in their everyday life varies from person to person, but ultimately, faith is something we DO! This reminded me of Phyllis Tickle’s discussion on Emergence Christianity. Faith requires actions, leaps, risk because we will never be 100% certain of the outcome. We are acting without full direction, without seeing it entirely but that is what makes it faith. Faith continues to evolve where people are seeking to take more actions. Youth, as I am, question everything with conviction and the “why” does not end when we are children but continues and this is faith, because despite all the “why” and constantly not always receiving a concrete answer we take the leap, we act and have faith.

What is your faith like? Are you taking those leaps?

I leave you with one of Pastor Wendy’s favorite poems:

Faith-is the Pierless Bridge, supporting what we see unto the scene that we do not-Too slender for the eye it bears the Soul as bold as it were rocked in steel with arms of steel at either side-It joins-behind the veil to what, could we presume the bridge would cease to be to our far, vacillating feet a first necessity.

♥ † ☮ ♪ ~Yajaira

Paix Amour Bonheur, ♥ ♪ ♈ †