by Pastor Gretchen Mertes
Community Engagement – what does this mean?
Have you started wondering and dreaming about the potential for our newly remodeled building? What’s it going to be like for worship? For education? For special events? I sure hope you have.
I have been envisioning all kinds of amazing ways of being church together in the space. Probably, the pandemic has made me fantasize about it even more than I otherwise would have! Imagine this…
- Hosting musical events that are open to the neighborhood and inspire us to dream. Not only that, but they are well-lit and well-heard!
- Inviting the neighborhood to a worship service that includes a full meal and a food pantry where people can sing and pray and eat and get groceries if they need them
- Premiering a new documentary about saving Washington’s waterways and inviting folks from NOAA and National Geographic and around the country to participate.
- Curating a songwriter’s workshop for local church musicians culminating in liturgical art that can be used throughout the world!
As we dream about how God’s gift of the amazing asset of our new fully-functional, open, bright, beautiful space can be best used, it is clear that intentionality and open conversation are going to be imperative.
As part of this journey forward together as a congregation, Pastor Kathy and I have begun forming a Community Engagement team. The team will be tasked with creating a vision process to guide the usage of our new space. We are inviting not only a variety of folks from our congregation, but also non-church folks from our community to consult with us – people from the areas of social justice, the arts, and organizations like the P-Patch.
As a church, we are leading the way forward as diligent stewards, listening to the needs of our community as well as the needs of our own worshiping body. There are places they overlap, and places where they diverge.
When we start to broaden our understanding of community and invite different groups and people to join us in our space, embodying our vision of being a community in the model of Christ, change will surely come. As a congregation, we inherently hope to change for the better the lives of those who rub shoulders with us. If we are wise, we also pray that God will change us through those relationships, too – even when that seems intimidating or uncertain in outcome.
We are in an enduring time of growth and hope in our congregation, even while our country is in an ongoing time of crisis. We are blessed to be doing God’s will because we trust in God’s abundance, and refuse to give in to the lie that we are in a time of scarcity.
Thanks be to God!