Monday, November 4, 2013

Koinonia Class Report

·         Our conversation with Kristin (therapist at mental health facility) revealed to us that there is a significant lack of resources in this region for people dealing with mental health issues. In particular, there is little assistance for folks once they are released from short-term crisis care. Kristin noted that on more than one occasion she has seen just-released patients walking down the road with bags in hand.

·         Community: We had a difficult discussion about community and how it should be defined. (From my perspective) there seemed to be some resistance to looking at the community that physically surrounds Grandview. Several in the class noted that GCC is made up mainly of people who do not live in close proximity to the church. Why is that? What happens when we limit our definition of community to those with whom we live and work—to those with whom we already have much in common?

·         Exegetical drives: We split up into three groups and explored our physical community within a 1 ½-2 mile radius of the church. Noted some development but many signs of poverty—empty stores, pawn shop, two thrift stores, a rent-to-own store, check cashing companies, etc. Discovered a significant trailer park none of us knew existed (above/behind Cherokee UMC). Two elementary schools within a very short drive.

Talking about schools led us to a discussion about who these schools serve—and who is serving these schools. Heather L noted that Central Baptist and Munsey have “adopted” Northside Elementary. Joe W talked about members of Kiwanis having lunch with certain kids at Indian Trail. Talked about how schools have replaced churches as a go-to organization for families in need.

·         Yesterday, we continued our discussion about schools as “community/social welfare centers,” noting the things GCC is doing/has done with Southside Elementary. We then began to imagine how we might expand our efforts with that school—perhaps through the JC schools homeless program director or through Family Promise. Would like to talk to Central Bap and Munsey about what they are doing at Northside—what has worked, what hasn’t, how they are organized, etc.

We talked about how meeting the physical and material needs of students in a neighborhood school has value in the short-term, but in the long-term, there are parents (and kids) who need care, love, compassion, people and institutions they can trust, opportunities to build confidence and gain dignity. A tall order that will require a significant investment in individual lives, which will require time, patience, and perhaps trial and error.

We aren’t sure how to go about this, but are hoping to get Aaron Scott from FP to come talk to us next week. We would like to hear more about what FP does during the day with its families—who FP partners with, what they struggle with, etc.

In a conversation with Heather L and Beth B after class, we also talked about the arts as a non-threatening avenue for reaching local kids and their parents—noting the number of artists (of all sorts) we have at Grandview and some of what we do through two4two. An idea brewing.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Macroview: Roberts Group looks at Tree Streets

Jeff Keeling, Neil Owen, and Drew Smith leading a panel discussion on the Tree Streets. It was an informative session. Some of the takeaways:
  • There is a lot of community pride in the Tree Streets neighborhoods.
  • Many non-Christians in the Tree Streets are skeptical of the church based upon their concerns that the church is anti-homosexuality and anti- any number of things.
  • The East End of the Tree Streets has more financial need than the West End.
  • The community is one of the most diverse in Johnson City, racially and economically.
  • The extreme East End of the Tree Streets (across the interstate) has very little church support.
  • Some of the residents of the Tree Streets have grown old enough that they are unable to do routine maintenance on their homes.
  • The Tree Streets are a friendly and open community.

Macroview Report: Roberts Group

1. We have the panel discussion tomorrow evening (5 p.m.) with Jeff & Angie Keeling, Drew (& maybe Tasha) Smith, Neil Olson(?), and Holly (& maybe Don) Johnson [who are long-time Tree Streets folks & own the One Acre Cafe property - & friends of Ruth Davis]. 2. Next week (Oct. 23) we have another panel with Anne Littleford [principal of Southside Elem.], Eric Hull (or a stand-in from JCPD who is familiar w/ south side issues), and maybe the postal carrier for this neighborhood (Craig has been trying to contact him). 3. And on Nov. 6 we will have Bonnie White, from the JC Schools to talk about the homeless teenagers in the community and those who are dependent on community help (Robbie has confirmed her coming).

Macroview Report: Faith and Living Class

 Kristin Colson will be joining our class on October 13. She has worked as an assistant manager at Starbucks and now works as a therapist/art therapist at Woodridge.

Our class had an interesting discussion last week regarding “the Fall,” determining that that language doesn’t resonate with many inside the church let alone outside the church. “The Fall” led to discussion about Eden and whether or not we liked the idea of returning to an Edenic state (lacking knowledge, na├»ve, etc.)

We refocused on terms like brokenness, reconciliation, restoration, and redemption. More helpful to the discussion but not necessarily easier (than the Fall) to communicate to the unchurched.

Ultimately landed on the importance of being living examples of what it means to be restored from brokenness.

Macroview: Report from Michael and Leah Short Group

Our group will be addressing the community observation topic this week.  I have tentatively lined up Shannon Castillo from WCEDC and possibly officer Moody from the J.C. police department but I would rather the group come up with options of their own. 
Regarding group progress we spent the first week laying ground rules etc.  While doing so the following question was presented. "Is there anything about my theology that would get in the way of loving people who are different from me?"  Most everyone agreed that questions like this make them uncomfortable but are necessary as we prepare to turn our attention outward.  This self examination should be done now so that our own assumptions (theological or otherwise) about others do not offend and alienate those who we purpose to love. 
Specific to lesson #1 we addressed the obvious: the church is the hands and feet of the dream and we are God's creation that will do the work.  By its very nature the gift of salvation, redemption and restoration is meant to be shared not hoarded.  We also touched on our place with God within creation and how we have intrinsic value as a result of having been made in His image.  Of course that is true for all people(s)
We also discussed something called the divine perpendicular as it relates to Mark 12.  For lack of a better term it is a graph depicting our love for God and people and how the two interconnected.  
Until Next Time,
Michael and Leah      
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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Faith and Living Macroview Class

This group is going well, here is what they have to report so far:

·         As we continue to wrestle with the language and concepts associated with our faith, we’ve recognized that meaningful conversation with others cannot take place outside of meaningful relationship.
·         We’ve also begun to talk about “good work” going on around us that isn’t necessarily being done in the name of “church” or “Christian.” What does it look like for the church, for Grandview, to join in such “good work”? 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Wymer Macroview Group

I've encouraged groups to snap some pics for the blog, but I keep forgetting to do that when everyone is at my house. We've had a good group of mixed ages (college students through retirement age) and conversation has been influenced by some varying and wonderful perspectives, including mothers who children are in distinctly different age groups, a psychology professor, former missionaries, and others.

We are preparing for the listening in phase in the coming weeks.

Session 3 drove home the need to remember the role of the Holy Spirit to bring about remarkable acts of restoring God's intention for creation.