Taking a stabI began this blog three months ago. In that time I have been building friendships in my new church, Emmaus Way, reading about missional communities, talking with informed people, and visiting the Church of the Savior. In that time, I have indeed made some progress in my thinking, even though as some questions have been answered, others have rushed in to take their place.
Up until now, I have been peeling away unnecessary layers of church, seeking what is essential and vital. I now have a rough idea to build on. Please don't hold me to it - it's a *rough idea* - but I do want to share it so I can receive critique, ideas or encouragement.
Recall that what I seek is church centered on action which then gives people a reason to gather and share knowledge. This is the opposite of most churches, which are centered on knowledge in the hope that it will lead to action. A cluster of people in conversation with me, and who also want such a church, share an interest in food and gardening. Yes, we all like to eat. But that isn't the point. The point is that food is fundamental, and so is the soil it comes from and the labor that produces it. Food has also become the principal language of ethics among many people today - especially college students and young adults. It is often their basis for caring about fair trade, the environment, farmer's markets, vegetarian diets, and more. (A book on my reading list: Food and Faith: A Theology of Eating, by Norman Wirzba [thanks, Allegra, for the recommendation].)
Now, consider that former refugees from the Congo and Sudan are being resettled in the Triangle area. Anyone coming from a rural area of a developing country is going to miss having their hands in the soil, and miss eating certain foods. If we can get a plot of land that is close to where these people are being settled, they and we can join in gardening and raising the foods they miss (if they can grow here). Working side by side in this way is not a charity - it is a way of building relationships and living out the love of God. It will provide an opportunity for listening to each others' stories and responding to each others' needs.
|Carrboro Community Garden|
Carrboro has a community garden - for a purpose different than what we intend, and it looks full at the moment. That's OK. We can find a plot elsewhere, and we can learn from the Carrboro experience. They gather to tend the garden from 10 to 12 each Saturday. If we were to do the same, on Saturday or Sunday, we could then wash up at the end and go to someone's home for a shared meal, followed by a time of prayer and discussing the Bible. Whether Christian or not, everyone would be welcome to join us. For three weeks a month, that would be our church service. On the fourth week, we'd join Emmaus Way to stay connected to another group of believers and to encourage and influence one another.
No doubt the relationships formed by hoeing and weeding together would lead to care of other kinds, say practicing English, tutoring students, and helping people figure out American life. We would also want ways the immigrants could help the non-immigrants. We'll learn those in time. These non-gardening activities would become the main ways of interacting in the seasons when things are not growing.
That's about as far as I can go with this idea at the moment. Lots of questions follow. Where are immigrants concentrating in the Triangle? Can we find a mature Christian among them who could be a co-leader? Can we find a plot of ground? Can I put my time into this when I am having to put more time into my job and my other venture, Africa Rising? Who else might help? These are all matters for prayer.
Thanks for reading along. Let me know if you have any thoughts.