Happy Anniversary, Westside!

In march of 2023, one year ago you all welcomed me into your community. And what a year it’s been!

It’s tempting to use this kind of platform to hype up the community and name all the hard work folks have put in to make this past year go well. I could talk about the strong worship team who is dedicated and thoughtful in crafting meaningful services that ground us on Sunday mornings. Or all the ways people in this community have shown up for and let themselves be changed by learning Nonviolent Communication and engaging in Right Relations work. Now a year later, this is reaching a new stage where we are beginning to craft a new community Covenant, in joy and love, and courageous engagement with the real challenges present in this work. I could talk about the successful stewardship campaign and auction effort I witnessed last year and the excitement of gearing up for these events this spring. Or the vision put forth by this year’s Board to foster a vibrant community. The new LED screen and coffee makers and induction ranges! The meaningful community being built in a radically inclusive Religious Exploration program! And so much more.

Seriously, what a year it has been.

But, I think I want to use this blog to talk about how meaningful this work has been for me personally. When I began my journey into ministry, I never imagined that I would end up here in the Pacific Northwest, living an unconventional life and making it up as I go along. When I applied to work at Westside, I wasn’t sure a community like this would be willing to take on a commuter minister in a situation like we’ve worked out–I wasn’t sure such a situation would work out. For the record, I love that I get to split my time between Seattle and Portland, and have been delighted to discover just how sustainable it actually is.

This past year with Westside, my first year doing ordained parish ministry, has deepened my sense of calling not only to serve this faith tradition, but also to “say yes to life” as the old hymn goes. Because of this work, I now have two homes, two communities to call my own, and an abundance of deeply meaningful work that is mine to do (in partnership, always). I get the privilege of accompanying Westsiders through the normal ups and downs of their individual lives, and stewarding new ways of engaging in this collective life. 

You all have asked me to stretch and grow in ways that have been uncomfortable. You have invited me into your homes, shared your families with me, your hopes and your fears. It is humbling, and I want to keep at it. I look forward to a future of deepening these relationships, healing from past wounds, and building a vibrant community together.

I speak often of the loneliness epidemic of our times, the sense of dislocation and disassociation that characterizes modern generations. It is my firm belief that spiritually-grounded loving community is not only a balm but a necessary antidote to the ills of modern life. When we show up in community, we grow, we build power, we learn how to let others care for us, and experience the fulfilling satisfaction of caring for others. That’s what we’re here for, and I want to remind you all that this is no small thing. It is life-changing, saving, and revolutionary.

What a year it has been. I’m ready for round two!

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