Posts Tagged ‘ Flint Local 432 ’

DWELLINGS DAY ONE

Yesterday was the big day! As I said during our first service yesterday, we didn’t become a church yesterday when we held our first public gathering. We became a church back in January when a group of people began to come together to follow God into the unknown to learn to love and serve the people around us in Flint, Michigan. The church is a people after all, right? Well, yesterday was significant because we gathered to enter into a weekly rhythmic of worship. It’s tough to find the words to describe something that is so meaningful. Especially when this something that you are trying to explain has been a dream that has been in the works for nearly 10 years. But I’ll try…

The one word that keeps coming to mind when I think about how our first service went is comfortable. From set up to tear down everything felt very natural. I didn’t feel the need to make anything happen. It didn’t seem hard. There was an excitement in the air because new things are, well, exciting, but I think  comfortable sums it up nicely.

Set Up and Music

When we showed up at 8a.m. in the morning to get everything set up everyone who was there chipped in without a ton of direction and just did what needed to be done. With the help of the Flint Local 432’s regular sound guy, Tim, the band got set up and was ready to go within 20 minutes. We decided last minute to project the words of the songs we were singing for worship (and the PowerPoint that went along with the sermon) on the wall to the left of the stage instead of on the giant screen that would have came down in front of the stage and obscured the players from the shoulders up. It was a last minute decision that didn’t occur to us at rehearsal a couple days earlier but when we showed up in the morning it was pretty obvious that it would be a great solution. I think the result was fantastic. First, it allowed the musicians who wanted to stand to stand without worrying about being cut in half by the screen. Secondly, and I think most importantly, the screen being off to the side changed the focal point of the people in the congregation. Folks looked toward the screen and I think it made it easier to focus on the words in order to collect ourselves in worship.

After we set up the band, we quickly put the chairs and tables in place and did a run through of the set list for the service. This gave our tech person, Sarah, a chance to run the the powerpoint and get her familiar with the songs. After the band wrapped up, another crew of people showed up to get the coffee brewing, set up the kids area, and pass out donuts to the bikers who were in town for the big Bikes on the Bricks festival Downtown.

Coffee

We bought a fancy new airpot brewer to make our coffee so Jay and I had to spend some time making sure we knew how to work  it and where we were going to store it but we managed to get some decent coffee made to offer our people. We have decided to use ceramic mugs and have someone take them home each week to run them through the dishwasher in order to cut down on waste. Lisa and I went to the Salvation Army last week and picked out a bunch of the most random mugs we could find. The mugs were a nice conversation piece for the morning. We joked that instead of having people who come and sit in the same pew week after week we’ll have people that live and die by the coffee mug that they drink from. We’re also working with a local coffee roaster who will be roasting fresh coffee beans for us each week so we will be supporting a local business and have great coffee to share with our people.

Kids

Since the space we are meeting in is essential one big room with a couple restrooms attached we are trying to figure out ways to have kids stay with us in the service that allows the adults to focus and participate in the service without having to worry about their children being a disruption. We decided to set up a table and some floor mats up off to one side of the room to give kids an area where they can draw, play with playdough, or do puzzles. A couple parents and Casey, one of our college student, sat down on the mats to play with the kids throughout the service. A few of the bigger kids passed headphones back and forth while watching a movie on a computer. The kids seemed to really enjoy the atmosphere and made themselves quite at home. During the service, the kids were amazing.  For nearly and hour and a half they hung out with us doing their thing. Hopefully they will enjoy themselves as much next week as we continue to explore different ways to engage them in what we are doing as a church. We’re thinking about getting a bunch of tambourines and shakers so they can dance and jam with us during musical worship. Lisa and I saw this done at TheStory in Sarnia and it was awesome to see the kids involved in worship. Besides we don’t currently have a percussionist, so what the heck, right?

Donuts

Since the big Bikes on the Bricks thing was going on Downtown we decided to find away to engage in what was already happening around us. So we ordered 8 dozen donuts from Donna’s Donuts and gave them away to bikers who were setting up for the day. We didn’t do this as a way to have an opportunity to invite them to church but just to tell them thanks for coming to the city. This seemed very organic. As soon as the donuts showed up, a bunch of our people paired up, grabbed some of the kids and went walking around on Saginaw Street passing out donuts. I think everybody had fun and it was a simple way to connect with our neighbors for the day.

The Service

By 10:20a.m. the rest of the folks who were joining us for the service had arrived. People mingled, drinking coffee and chatting until we got started at 10:30. The service was pretty simple. We started with a song and welcomed people to make themselves comfortable while we sang songs together in order to engage in the same activity together as a community and to quiet our hearts to focus on whatever God might have for us. We sang a couple more songs and Carrie came up to read from the Psalms. We played one more song and then Jay gave some brief announcements before moving into the sermon.

We decided that we wanted to invite people to be an active part of the service by asking some questions and giving some time to reflect by writing in community journals. I asked some simple, straightforward questions throughout the service to give the congregation an opportunity to share ideas out loud as we talked about the idea of “following”. We talked about the different ways of coming to know someone or something, different kinds of things people follow in our culture, and what is required of those who want to follow someone or something. People who wished to share simply chimed in with answers. I think this questioning seemed to help people stay engaged in the message. Then, toward the end of the message, I introduced the idea of the community journals. We bought some simple composition notebooks and pens and passed them out to people around the room. I explained that the idea behind the journals was to give people a way to process and wrestle with what we were talking about in a quiet reflective way. I instructed them to keep their entries anonymous and asked them to leave the books at church so they can grow with the community. Sometimes I’ll give specific prompts for people to respond to during our services but other times I won’t mention them at all. But the plan is to make them available week to week to be used however they help the church process; taking notes, writing prayers, drawing pictures, doodling, asking questions, etc. I gave a few prompts and gave folks a 5-7 minutes of quiet to jot down some thoughts. After the journaling, I gave a few closing remarks and closed the service with a video. After the benediction people sprung into action helping us get the space back into shape for the next punk rock show. Tear down was swift and organized. I think having been a part of the set up and tear down crew at Wildwind, our mother church, for so many years really helped the process to go smoothly.

The buzz in the air was thick, at least it was for me. I know that I’ve given a brief record of concrete details here and while that might give people an idea of what we did, it doesn’t really contain the feeling of the experience. It was a great morning. The people that were with us (which included our initial core team, some friends from Wildwind, and a handful of people who wanted to see what we were all about before deciding how/if they wanted to be involved in a more direct way) seemed to be engaged and I’ve since received a lot of positive feed back in the last 36 hours.

Several new people informed me that they would be back! Another person wrote and thanked me for making the experience comfortable for introverts and extroverts alike. And yet another person made a point to tell me how refreshing the service was and how the content has already provided them with opportunities to share some of the ideas they heard at Dwellings with people at their workplace. Good stuff is happening here. Stuff I couldn’t have planned. We’re just gonna show up and see what happens next, listen for what God is up to in our midst, and then show up again the next week…and the week after that…and the week after that. So good? Maybe you can join us sometime.

If you are interested in hearing my sermon (lo-fi) from Sunday you can do so here: http://www.dwellingsflint.com/sermons/follow-me/

Thanks for sharing in our story. Blessings.

 

Advertisements

DWELLINGS CHURCH @ FLINT LOCAL 432, PART 2: WHAT IT MEANS

In my last post, I shared a bit about the arrangements that Dwellings Church has made with Flint Local 432 regarding the use of their space for our Sunday services. In that post I shared some ideas about what this relationship DOES NOT MEAN. I hope you’ll take a look since I believe it will help explain some of what we are trying to do as a church. Hopefully this post builds on that conversation.

The other night, I sat in my living room with a group of people who are joining us in this church planting adventure. Some of us have known each other for years and some folks were meeting for the first time. It was a night of conversation and collaboration, both things I value greatly and will continue to strive to build into the culture of our new church. Our discussion really helped me to see that this won’t be a difficult task. Ideas flowed freely while grace and peace characterized the words that were shared.

During our time together, we tried to identify some of the opportunities that are available to us as a direct result of holding our services at the Flint Local 432. Here’s what we came up with (in no particular order):

1. Dwellings Church meeting at Flint Local 432 means that we will get to be present in Downtown Flint. Being present means locating ourselves in a specific community and being available to that community.

2. Dwellings Church meeting at Flint Local 432 means that we will have the opportunity to defeat negative stereotypes that are often associated with Christianity. It is our hope that as we are present Downtown, we will be able to demonstrate the love of Jesus in a refreshing way. And let’s be honest, there aren’t a lot of churches that would choose to hold services in a punk rock club. These Dwellings folks must be at least a little different. 🙂

3. Dwellings Church meeting at Flint Local 432 means that we will be involved in a place where God is already at work. Folks might not recognize how God is at work but we believe that God is at work wherever love and truth live. Love and truth live at the Local, and just about everywhere else, too. If we are willing to look for it, we’ll find it.

4. Dwellings Church meeting at Flint Local 432 will give us opportunities to have new, exciting experiences of learning from others. Sometimes it can be easy for Christians to get stuck in our own little bubble. Locating ourselves in a public space will help us to connect with people in new ways.

5. Dwellings Church meeting at Flint Local 432  allow us to be renters which will keep our focus on building community. Buildings are cool because they give us a place to be. But owning property takes a lot of energy. We hope that by being renters we will be able to keep our energy focused on building relationships and serving others as our new church is being born.

6. Dwellings Church meeting at Flint Local 432 allows us to gather in a comfortable space for those interested in exploring life-with-Jesus who might not be comfortable in a traditional church setting. People, myself included, have a lot of baggage that they associate with “church”. We hope that doing church in a different way, in a different kind of space, we’ll create opportunities to connect with folks who would otherwise avoid stepping into a church building.

So there it is. This list represents some of the opportunities we are being provided with by being welcomed into the Flint Local 432. We are grateful for the chance step up and grow into these ideas/opportunities. We also look forward to recognizing new opportunities as they are presented to us. Thanks for keeping up with our unfolding story.

DWELLINGS CHURCH @ FLINT LOCAL 432: WHAT IT DOES NOT MEAN

I made an exciting announcement on Facebook and Twitter last week about Dwellings, the church we’re planting, holding it’s services at Flint Local 432, an all ages music venue and art space that has existed in different forms in Downtown Flint for more than 25 years.While our first service doesn’t happen until September, I wanted to share a little bit about what this means for us as a church and also a little bit about what it DOES NOT mean.

Today, let’s talk about what it DOES NOT mean.

1. Dwellings Church meeting at Flint Local 432 does not mean that Flint Local 432 endorses the worldview of Dwellings Church. Flint Local 432 is not a “Christian” venue. It’s a place that has always been host to a diverse body of people with varying worldviews and ideas.

2. Dwellings Church meeting at Flint Local 432 does not mean that our church is only for the “young” and “hip”. If you are interested in checking out what we’re up to you are welcome no matter what year you were born or what kind of music your listen to.

3. Dwellings Church meeting at Flint Local 432 does not represent all of who we are and what we do as a church. The church is a people. Wherever we gather, whether two friends meeting in a coffee shop or home, or serving together in the community, the church is represented by a rhythm of life together. Gathering on Sunday mornings is one of many different expressions of the church.

4. Dwellings Church meeting at Flint Local 432 does not mean that we think we are “cooler” than other churches, it’s just the way we have decided to begin our journey. We hope that meeting in a non-traditional space for worship will allow us to have some refreshing dialogue about what it means to”be the church” and maybe remove some barriers that keep people away from exploring Christian spirituality.

5. Dwellings Church meeting at Flint Local 432 does not mean that everyone will understand what we are trying to do. We hope to respond with grace and peace to those who have different ideas about what is good and bad; appropriate and inappropriate. We aren’t interested in winning arguments as much as we are interested in having conversations. By the way, we don’t have it all figured out and won’t claim otherwise. We expect to learn a lot along the way, hopefully from unexpected sources!

I’ll be back soon to share a little bit about what makes this opportunity so exciting for our church community. I hope this gives you an idea of the kind of church Dwellings hopes to become. We’d love to hear your thoughts. Post comments and questions below.

ART ASKS GOOD QUESTIONS

I went to see some bands play this past week at Flint Local 432, the local  all ages art space in my city. I had been looking forward to seeing a band from Atlanta called The Wild. I’d been listening to their record, Set Ourselves Free, for the last year or so. The record is good but it didn’t really sink in all that deeply. Seeing them live really took their music to the next level for me. The energy and emotion came through in a big way even though there were only 30 other people in the room.

One song in particualr struck me in a powerful way. Here’s a snippet of some lyrics to their song “The Saddest Thing I Ever Saw”:

       on the corner there once stood a church full of sound, you could hear songs escape at night. they’d sing praise be to him for what we have built… a home, a community, a life. but it broke. now stands a high-rise. I can’t take back what I’ve done. so we danced around the room to an old familiar tune, and I looked deep in your eyes, and I thought about the fact that we are lucky for what we have, but I wonder what’s the price.

For me, good art asks good questions. It leads to reflection, about self and the world around us. The Wild helped me to ask some good questions the other night.

As I stood bobbing my head to the music, I wondered about the ways that our choices shape our world.How do our shopping habits impact our sense of community? How does the shape of the spaces we inhabit influence our thinking about things like security and safety? How often do we abandon something good for something quick and easy? Summing up the question that The Wild asks in the song; what’s the cost of what we’ve got?

Good art doesn’t always have to give you the answers. Sometimes just getting the conversation going is enough. It allows us the opportunity to search out the answers for ourselves. I don’t have the answers to these questions, but I’m grateful for the encouragement to wrestle with them. I’m grateful for art that asks good questions.

How has art encouraged reflection about your life or community? 

THE OAK STREET CHRONICLES: MY FIRST TIME (A Flint Local 432 Story)

The Oak Street Chronicles tell the stories of my time in Downtown Flint, learning to live and learning to love.

I moved to Oak Street to help out a friend who was going travelling. He wanted me to keep an eye on his house while he was away. I wanted a chance to live closer to the heart of the music scene that I was becoming more and more immersed in with each passing year. The Flint Local 432 was a hub for this vibrant and diverse music community. It’s the kind of thing that leads a suburban, white kid to relocate to the hood.
I had gotten involved in the music scene in a participatory way when I was 14. I remember my first time like it was yesterday…

My best friend Mike and I had just joined our first band (technically, Mike played in a Metallica cover band first but let’s not count that) after replying to a sort of help wanted article in a teen-written section of the Flint Journal called Word Up. Mike was a drummer and I wanted to sing. I liked singing. That’s all you really need, right? Passion and desire. Nevermind that whole talent thing.

We connected with Phil, a Grand Blanc kid who actually took guitar lessons and liked a lot of the same alternative and grunge bands that Mike and I were getting into. After reading his article we were sure that we were soul-mates so we started “jamming” in Mike’s Grandmother’s garage.

One time Phil showed up with an article from the newspaper about a new all ages music club that was opening. The article advertised a show with the Rubgy Mothers and Offense A.D., I think. It was two bands I had seen before; one at the Capitol Theater and the other at the Capitol Lobby. A friend’s older brother had taken us to some shows Downtown a year or so earlier. We all decided we needed to check out the show and see if we could try to book our first real gig!

We arrived a Kinelo’s Cafe and the room was pretty full. I felt like one of the youngest kids there but I didn’t care. When the bands started playing I had found a new home.

Mike came up to me later in the evening and told me had just met the guy who managed the Rugby Mothers gigs and asked him how we could get a show of our own. Mike rounded up the rest of us and introduced us to a guy named Joel.

I had actually met Joel earlier in the evening. I had twisted my ankle pretty bad bouncing around in the “pit” during Offense A.D.’s set and Joel found me a chair so I could sit down for a while.

When Mike took us to talk to Joel about booking a show, Joel pulled out a paper schedule and offered us a spot on a show right there on the spot. It was that easy. He hadn’t even heard us. That probably was a good thing.

The next time we had a rehearsal we played with more purpose than ever before. We put together a set of 8 songs including 7 originals and a Lemonheads cover. We practiced every week getting the set ready for our show. It was about a month away so we kept going down to shows every weekend until then.

One night when we showed up to see Rats of Unusual Size (a band all the way from New York!), and Matt Ratza (the original bass player from Burnt Toast!), we arrived at Kinelo’s and it was pretty empty. The stage wasn’t set up and the table hadn’t been moved out of the way. We were a little confused but we saw some lights coming from another building down the otherwise empty street.  We heard some music coming from the building, too. Sound check! We made our way down to 432 S. Saginaw Street. The space wasn’t as nice as the cafe but it was awesome to know that Joel had gotten his own building. The Flint Local 432 seemed like it was something that was going to be around for a while.

We saw bands like Melange, Day 28, Beatnik Mecca, and my personal favorite Burnt Toast, who I had convinced to let me sing one of my favorite songs with them on stage one time. What a rush! I was learning that I could be a part of something that I loved in a personal way.

When our first gig came, I was super nervous so when we got on stage I did my best Eddie Vedder impression, holding on to the mic stand with both hands, not letting go for our entire 30 minute set. I swayed back and forth a little, too. The coolest part of that show wasn’t the performance itself. It was seeing the guys from Burnt Toast and Melange had come to see us play. My new heroes were becoming my new friends.

In my school, I didn’t really feel comfortable. I wasn’t that cool. I had friends but still didn’t feel like I really fit in. Flint Local 432 fixed that for me. It gave me a place. It gave me direction. It gave me experiences that have shaped my life. And it gave me a really cool collection of cassette tapes from local bands.

The Flint Local 432 is reopening soon! Get more info here!

IN THE PRESS: FLINT LOCAL 432 INTERVIEW

I spent a few minutes talking with Scott Atkinson of the Flint Journal about the re-opening of the Flint Local 432. Flint Local 432 is the all ages concert space where I have spent nearly a third of all of my weekends on this earth. This place is important for our city and I’m so glad I had the chance to be a part of the conversation surrounding the club’s re-opening this year. Here’s what I had to say:

Jason Kotarski, 32, is an associate pastor for Wildwind Community Church in Flint Township and said when he was younger, the Local gave him a place to fit in.

“I didn’t really feel like I had a place, and the local gave me that. They were just normal guys playing guitars making music of their own and that was really compelling to me,” he said.

Kotarski now volunteers on Saturdays, cleaning the place to help Whitcomb and other workers keep making progress.

“It just really made a difference in my life and I think it’s affected me in such a huge way that I wanted to make sure that other kids like me have a place to go in their spare time,” he said.

You can read the rest of the article and learn more about Flint Local 432 here.

A YOUNG REBEL JESUS, PART ONE

Click on the picture to listen to audio message.

The following is the text of a message given at Wildwind Community Church on January 29th, 2012.

In my teenage years, I often found myself walking through the doors at 432 South Saginaw Street in downtown Flint. I was drawn to this particular location because of the sense of community I found there. The Flint Local 432 was an all-ages concert venue space that specialized in punk rock. Everyone was welcome, but you didn’t often find just “anybody” within the walls of the club. The people that frequented the Flint Local 432 were different. They were people like me. Most people I met within those walls had feelings that they didn’t fit in with the status quo. In my school, I lived on the margins. I showed up and did as little as possible to pass my classes. At this time, I was only interested in my education to the extent that it allowed me the freedom to pursue my passion.

My passion was music. I wasn’t interested in music as it was written on a page, but the kind that poured out from the heart. I did my school work all week because I wanted to be able to go see a show at the club on the weekend. This community that surrounded the Local, or the 432, as it came to be known, provided me an opportunity to express myself in my own way while learning different ideas that spoke to subjects that I was interested in. As the 432 relocated several times throughout my involvement, one thread remained that always made it feel like home. While different people and bands came and went I could always count on “A Young Rebel Jesus” to be there.

“A Young Rebel Jesus” was a Velvet Elvis-style, color-by-number painting of Jesus kneeling by a stone and praying. It was very similar to this painting that Lisa and I picked up at a thrift store a while back.

Pretty classy, right? This painting would have fit nicely in a traditional Christian home in the 60’s or 70’s. I think we paid about seven dollars for this because it reminded us of “A Young Rebel Jesus”. Now, while this painting is similar, it’s not quite the same as the painting that hung at the Local that had been adapted by a local tattoo artist. The painting was transformed when this artist added a neon mohawk to Jesus and painted a daisy into Jesus’ praying hands. The title, “A Young Rebel Jesus” was scrawled across the bottom of the portrait in fluorescent orange.

To many people this piece of artwork might have been considered a sacrilege but to me it was something special. Observing this painting week after week cemented Jesus in the forefront of my mind. For me, religion and authority were not topics I was that fond of, but this picture of Jesus gave me something to chew on. Maybe Jesus was different than I thought he was. Maybe Jesus was more than the authoritarian that I had conceived in my mind. At the time I was a lot more comfortable asking the questions than I was with the hard work of seeking answers to those questions. When I look back, I see this unique artist’s rendition of Jesus as a metaphor for my spiritual journey. The painting kept showing up in my adolescent life. The painting was a presence that seemed to follow me around asking questions that were stirring in the depths of my soul. In the same way, I can see how God continued to show up in my life over time. This thread of consistency had put me on a journey that I wasn’t always aware of.

Although “A Young Rebel Jesus” is a prominent touchstone in my spiritual journey, it is not the beginning of my story. My story begins with my family. My parents did not stress religion or spirituality as a key value in our family. I remember going to church a few times as a child. I believe that my attendance was a result of my mother’s longing for community that didn’t stick. My family went to church for a few weeks, just long enough for me to start getting comfortable with the other kids and getting a chance to perform in the Christmas play, and then we stopped going. No explanation was given by my parents as to why we weren’t going anymore. We just quit. I didn’t think too much about it. I guess I considered it similar to playing little league. It was something that you do for a season and then it’s over. So during this time, a seed of the idea of God was planted but was left to wither out in the field as we moved on to whatever was next for our family.

As I grew older, I got involved in the music scene. The community offered in this involvement fulfilled the desire of my heart. I wanted to be in relationships with people who liked me for who I was. As it turns out, the punk rock scene was not the only place to find people who extended unconditional acceptance. There was a group of students in my high school who were strangely polite and interested in me for me. Something was different about these kids. Now I can see that it was their relationship with Jesus Christ and His presence in their lives that made the difference, but I wasn’t interested in that just yet. They offered me caring community and I welcomed it.

Several of these friends showed up in my life in the places where I least expected it. I remember a time when my friend Lisa came home from college and invited me out for coffee. I had dated Lisa in high school but things fizzled as she sought the freedom that senior year brings. Although she dissolved our relationship, I didn’t walk away empty-handed. Over the course of the three months that we dated I had gotten to know her younger brother, David. He liked punk rock, too. After I was dumped, the only question I asked Lisa was if I could still be friends with her brother. So David and I started a band. I became a regular at their house; having band practice, listening to music, and skateboarding in their driveway.

Lisa and David grew up in a solid Christian home. They really seemed to take ownership for their faith and this was encouraging to me. I thought that if David could go to church and still like punk rock, maybe there was some hope for these “Christians” after all. After high school ended, I continued to play music with David, and Lisa went off to a Christian college in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

One weekend, when Lisa was home from college, she came down to the basement, just as band practice was finishing up. She invited me out to have a cup of coffee and catch up. Surprised, I accepted her invitation.

That night, at Colonial Coney Island, we went deep into our seemingly bottomless mugs of cheap, burnt coffee. I knew that she was a Christian and I had questions. I was testing the water. I wanted to see her reaction to my ignorance about God. She did react, but not how I expected. I asked questions and she answered them with more questions. She wasn’t judging me. She was trying to get me to think. She was trying to understand what was going on in my spirit and how she could serve me best. I’ll never forget her patience and kindness during our weekend tours of Flint’s finest greasy-spoons. For the next few years, she kept popping up in my life and helped me to keep the thoughts of God floating around in my mind.

Lisa was a great companion on my spiritual journey, but I had one problem. I wasn’t sure if I was seeking to know about God or if I was trying to impress a girl. Now I can see that if I was really trying to impress a girl I would have considered finding her a better cup of coffee. My friend Aaron provided clarity. He was that kid in high school that everyone thought was stoned most of the time since he was so laid back. I could see behind his squinted eyes and bed-messed hair that he was a person of character. He was the kind of friend most people only hope for. He often went out of his way to spend time with me. Before the time that cell phones became fashion accessories, he would drive out to my parent’s house in Davison, talk to my mom, discover that I was somewhere in downtown Flint playing with my band, find the bar, and show up just in time to see my strap on my guitar and strike the first chord. Coffee would always follow. This was our routine three of four times a year.

Our discussions often ended up on the subject of God. With all of this coffee and God-talk, it sometimes felt like I was cheating on Lisa, but I understood that God was trying to get my attention. Aaron had met God a few years earlier at Young Life camp. When we talked about God, he shared ideas that were different than I had ever heard before. The idea that God doesn’t care about how people dress, and that he is more concerned with relationships than rules, were new concepts to me. The questions that were brought about by the velvet Jesus painting were being validated. This Jesus character seemed to be something more than what I thought he was. It seemed to me that my coffee talks with Lisa and Aaron were leading me to a new place. When Aaron told me about a church that he was helping to start, I thought that maybe it was the place that I was supposed to be heading.

When I walked through the doors of Wildwind Community Churchfor the first time, I was met with the same sense of welcoming community that I experienced at the Flint Local 432. Wildwind was a place where my questions were welcomed and encouraged. I had stepped into a new community that wanted me to feel safe while seeking to know and understand God.

By this time, Lisa had moved to Chicago for a teaching job so I knew I wasn’t attending church for a girl. We kept in touch and she was excited for me. We e-mailed often about what I was learning at church. I remember when I told her that I had committed my life to Christ. I shared about the Old Testament Bible prophecies that were fulfilled in the life of Jesus. I told her that Jesus’ death and resurrection finally made sense to me. I told her I knew that God had plans for me and that I was headed in a new direction to find out what those plans were. My joy became her joy, and a year later she became my wife.

READ PART TWO HERE!

%d bloggers like this: