Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Ember Baltimore

Ember facilitated a short leadership service experience last weekend based in Baltimore with some of our friends from Salisbury. If you've followed along here for a little while you know about Wendy and us sending her to AZ last summer. She's the current ring leader for a group of college kids at Salisbury who are deeply invested in a bunch of different community impact projects. Wendy approached us a few months ago about setting something up around the theme of churches with unique impact to their communities.

There seems to be a groundswell of stuff happening in Baltimore - lots of recent new churches starting and some interesting under the covers service stuff. If you follow any of this, you probably know the name Colleen Smith. She is a Baltimore legend. We first met many moons ago when she was Kt's Sunday school teacher. Fast forward through her journey with the inner city, serving at Charm City Church, hosting block parties for Mission Advance and her most recent move to work with Captivate Church. [Read the story about their inner city property.] When we thought of the theme, Colleen certainly came to mind.

We spent the morning with Colleen and some of her kids club kids, walking with her around her community and listening to her stories, like: the police raiding her house multiple times, her now babysitting the kids of the first homeless man she ever met, and executing a bedroom makeover for one of the teenagers in her neighborhood. If you ever get a chance to walk her community with her, you'll see that she literally knows everyone and everyone knows her. Just so you know, this is her life pattern and it's amazing to see.

Around lunch time, we took some pre-made lunches to a spot where lots of homeless people gather. The original plan was that each of our team would give out 3 lunches and actually eat with homeless people. Instead, we ran out of food and spent a little time having conversations with some of the people there. Interestingly, most of our team felt a little awkward about the whole exchange. That's healthy to see because it certainly was an inequity of power [a la Toxic Charity.] It's also healthy because a number of years ago, young people I served with would have been fully satisfied by this - now, they want to serve the less fortunate while caring about their dignity. Of course, trusting your local host is one great step towards the right balance in this tension.

After lunch, we distributed some flyers around the neighborhood for Freedom Church, whose staff is in the midst of starting up a Sunday night church service. Instead of actually starting a gathering, they have hosted a number of community open forum nights to hear from people about what is good and bad about where they live and how could a church help with some of those issues. The flyers we distributed were to publicize another one of these coming up that Sunday. Absolutely love that approach.

Be encouraged about the emerging generation. They desire to connect and learn from legendary practitioners like Colleen. When they execute on their passions and principles from those that have come before them, the world will be a better place.

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