As we near the celebration of God coming to us and can see the end of the calendar year in sight, it provides one of several good opportunities to stop and reflect on where we have been and what God has done over these past 12 months or so.
As a young community of faith it seems like every year we get a clearer picture of who we are; what God is calling us to be and how he is inviting us to engage the communities we live in. It’s interesting to recognize the ups and downs of ministry life together as well. There are seasons of solid spiritual growth and momentum and then seasons of slowness and feeling like we’re pushing uphill without any traction. As a community I think we’ve learned to stay faithful and embrace wherever we are, learning there are times that we are called to action to change what we experience and then seasons that we just have to go through and that God is using to teach us. In 2015 we started with some great energy and opportunities. Somewhere around late spring and into summer it felt like things became difficult – less participation and struggling to really connect significantly in our community. As September came we have had a great fall with lots of opportunities presenting themselves, lots of new relationships, and a fresh energy and excitement about who we are and what we’re about. We gather around the rhythms or communion, community, and compassion. While this isn’t exhaustive, here’s some of what the year looked like and what we did in those areas…
In summer of 2014 we had the opportunity to travel to Uganda and fell in love with the ministries a Cherish Uganda. This year we adopted one of the girls we met while we there and this is one of the ways we continue to partner with them as a global outreach.
We have continued to volunteer with the Boys & Girls Club in our community to provide opportunities for less privileged youth in our community and be Christ’s presence in that setting. On St. Paddy’s Day we hosted a house concert for a multi-agency youth day in Santa Cruz which we also volunteered at, heading up the cooking and distribution of food. The club recently put up a banner with our name on it in their gym as a way to show their appreciation for our involvement. While we don’t do it for the recognition, we are also proud to be the only faith-based banner up there and love partnering with a community organization.
We were able to spend a day at the local elementary school that some of our kids attend and paint lines on the blacktop for them as well as work bringing soil into the Life Lab.
We partnered with 9 other churches in Santa Cruz to raise almost $20k for families affected by the tragic murder of an 8 year old girl in our community.
This coming weekend we will serve Child Protective Services with a project to renovates some of the rooms they use for foster visits.
Our St. Paddy’s Day concert served as an opportunity to raise money and also to have a great time together.
Through serving for the city at Evergreen Cemetery in Harvey West Park we’ve had the opportunity to host outdoor community movie nights in a truly unique setting.
Hosted multiple Ultimate Werewolf game nights that allowed us to engage with friends and introduce our personal circles of community to each other, creating a larger sense of community.
Rachel and I host an every other week spiritual book group that has allowed us to build new relationships, some of which have filtered into and become valuable contributors in Missio Dei Community.
Hosted several other environments that facilitates celebration and great opportunities to build relationships, such as our annual Labor Day BBQ at Harvey West Park and an Oktoberfest party at the Marchessault home.
Transformation Scripture Reading
In the first half of the year we focused on reading scripture in a way as to connect with God and be transformed by him.
We hosted a well attended overnight contemplative retreat to focus on making space for God and his spirit.
We led a group through the book Space for God and learned and experimented with prayer practices and allowing God to guide us daily.
Informational Scripture Reading
This fall we’ve turned out attention to the more cognitive process of wrestling with scripture.
We’ve spent our Sunday evenings discussing different questions about our sacred text, learning how it came together, how we read different genres, how to approach it as a whole, etc. It’s also been a time to discuss and wrestle with honest doubts and struggles people have or have had about the Bible.
We partnered with UPC in Watsonville to host a seminar about “What is the Bible and what are we supposed to do with it?” taught by a Bay Area New Testament scholar, Daniel Kirk.
In addition to these larger themes we had an Easter brunch at the Boys & Girls Club where we talked about the resurrection and it’s implications in our life.
We partnered with UPC to host a Maundy Thursday service. This was a great opportunity for our casual missional community to participate in the liturgy of the historic Church.
We are so thankful for the ways God has worked and is working in our community of faith and in Santa Cruz. We’ve seen the addition over this year of those who believe in Jesus as well as those outside of our faith tradition and are regularly having great conversations about faith, following Jesus, and what it means to be a disciple.
Thank you for the prayers, partnership, and participation of all of you who have been involved.
We are excited to continue to follow Jesus on this amazing journey of faith.
Of course, for those who are looking for opportunities to give financially at the end of the year, you are invited to partner with us on that level as we continue to reach out to our community and partner with God to see his kingdom come, on earth as in heaven. Thanks for considering it and please click here to give electronically.