As the world around us is rapidly changing, so to do our lives. If the church is a safe place for all to find wholeness how do we meet one another where we are? How do we authentically LOVE one another? Our congregation has an immense passion for helping the “other.” This passion is emerging into a system of compassionate collaboration allowing all to enter and join the conversation authentically and with their whole selves recognizing that in some places in our lives we are all the “other.”
This all means that “Emerging Ministries” is less of a program and more of an open invitation to ask ourselves who we are, how we connect with all of creation, and how we live out God’s will to love one another.
Emerging Ministry is all about building and strengthening relationships.
Last year’s budget reduction found me reducing my hours from fulltime to about 24 hours a week. With limited time, I found myself focusing on strengthening our relationships with a few of our current partners, Capital City Pride, Pizza Klatch, and Mpowerment while other members of Good Shepherd kept me updated on our partnerships with the Thurston County Foodbank, Interfaith Works, Concerned Clergy of Olympia, the sanctuary movement and Meaningful Movies of Olympia. I was also able to create a few new relationships during the year.
For the first time in November Good Shepherd hosted Mpowerments’ Annual World Aids Day Fundraiser. The event was a great success raising more than $10,000. These dollars go directly back into the community for HIV prevention and education. MPowerment is an all-volunteer organization that provides HIV/AIDS education, outreach and wellness activities for the local community. We continue our long-time commitment to Pizza Klatch through my work as a facilitator and our support and attendance at the annual Pizza Klatch Gayla fundraiser. Pizza Klatch’s mission is to “foster resiliency in LGTBQ+ youth and create a safe and positive school experience through support, education and empowerment. I also sit on Capital City Pride’s board as the co-chair and Faith Community Liaison. As the Faith Community Liaison, I help organize and plan the annual Interfaith Pride Worship Service. We will once again be marching in the Pride Parade in June.
A few new partnerships also began. Most recently, Wildwood Gathering began meeting in Shepherd’s Corner on Sunday afternoons and sharing some of our community garden space. Their welcoming statement reads:
“A community of faith that practices radical hospitality and extravagant welcome! What does that mean? It means we welcome you just as you are, perfectly unique and divinely you. We invite you to participate in whatever way feels right for you, jump right into conversation, or sit back and listen. We trust you to know you, and do what is meaningful and best for you. We do this because we’re all about love. Loving each other and ourselves, because we really think that is how God wants us to live in the world.”
Another new partnership that began this year is our involvement with the F.A.I.T.H alliance in Olympia; www.faithtinyhouses.com.
Due to the growing concerns surrounding the homeless crisis in Olympia the city provided $100,000 to pilot a program to place tiny houses on faith community property. Many local faith leaders felt the need to work with the city to help craft what these partnerships would look like and to help navigate that endeavor with any worshiping community that wanted to take part of this on. The FAITH alliance also had a traveling example of what one of these tiny houses. In order to spark conversation and raise interest we had the “Conestoga hut” in our parking lot. This pilot program from the city prompted Good Shepherd to explore what this would mean for our community by creating the Homeless Task Force. In order to explore this issue of homelessness in our community in greater detail the taskforce provided two different Theology Uncorked sessions inviting experts from the community to share information around their areas of expertise.
Another new partnership was our contract with Sacred Movement to provide Thursday evening centering worship services, several members of Good Shepherd sit on Sacred Movement’s steering committee.
Also as a part of my outreach I am currently the Assistant Director of the ASTP program, co-director of Vacation Bible School, and assist with special outreach worship services like Thanksgiving eve dinner and worship, The Long Darkness, Gifts for The Child, Lenten and Advent Soup Suppers, Ash Wednesday, and Easter Sunday Breakfast.
Kai Abrahamson, Director