Sunday, July 18, 2010

ending? beginning?

What happens now?
I spent an hour watching my kid frolic in the local wading pool this afternoon, and thought about that. Though first what I asked myself was, Why?

As of this morning, it looks like we have truly bought a building -- we're building a community center. It's mostly clean, the air conditioning is almost up and running, and if I'm lucky I will soon have access to phone and data ports. Nevermind the two weeks I've spent running back and forth between the new building and my old office -- this morning, the church held its first worship service in the multi-purpose "cafeteria" space, and it felt okay. It felt like a place we could get used to, while the new sanctuary is being constructed in the center of the building.

The process has entailed so much work, so much sacrifice in one sense or another, and no small amount of contention -- plus, the gradual wearying of seemingly every one of the church's regular volunteers. Fortunately we have many community partners in some have pitched in, here and there, to help us along the way. This week, like many others, felt like a seven-day week. Yesterday I put in another 6 hours helping with final preparations, and towards the end it was just the boss and I, moving the font, the communion table and the lectern. Hymnals, a large icon, other necessary articles. I left, feeling guilty, at around 5pm; at 9pm he was still at it, trying to get things just right. He did a certain amount of the hard work all alone in that big building; and it was his vision, really, from the start, that got us there.

Why have I worked so hard towards this end, worked almost as hard as he has? He might have seen it clearly as an attainable vision, all along; but I didn't really feel a firm conviction until we got the financing just six months ago. The year-long process before that entailed months of anomie and disheartening uncertainty, waiting and wrangling over the theoretical, trying and being rejected by one bank after another, arguing with the school district (who sold us the building) about whether we had the right to choose our own tenant partners, competing against local political interests and gentrification schemes in order to realize a dream of community empowerment and fellowship. 19 months.

I don't know what it means, really, to do something for "the glory of God." And to be honest, my motivations for continuing along this road after three years of highly changeable church employment, plus another 19 months of utterly nerve-rending transformation and effort, have changed and morphed again and again. Certainly faith has played a part; so has loyalty. And persistence -- I'm no quitter, I'm too proud to admit defeat, though the urge to cut and run has come and gone multiple times. I worked my ass off, like a woman who has the courage of her convictions. And I do believe in the vision itself. But as often I have simply followed along, have trailed along in the wake of something, someone, more clear and sure than I.

And now there it stands. Someone else's dream, made my own and well on its way to being not only a concrete reality (as now) but a realized quest. There was something more that I wanted, I realize now, and I'm not sure whether it will materialize. I've had about all the acknowledgement I'm entitled to, it's not that. What comes next? Lots of practical tasks, the list is long. Somehow it seems I still need to find the apex of this process, need to define that for myself whatever it may be...


Anonymous said...

It's kind of a sad thing that you all don't call the new building a church, but rather a community center. Yet, I supposed that is the most accurate description because when Craig talked about the new building in response to Nick Heille's letter to the editor a while ago, his description of it was that it would be more of a social service agency, rather that just happens to house a chapel, rather than primarily a church. He also failed to mention that NECLC hasn't been able to pay it's own bills through the offerings at the church for quite some time. If it wasn't for the sale of buildings and other people paying rent, the doors would have been closed a long time ago. I can't help but think how much the church could have grown by now if the same effort had been invested in making disciple, rather than a social service agency. However, it is what it is, and as Nick Heille said, Northeast Minneapolis has lost another church.

Jennifer S. said...

I think it's interesting that someone who knows me well enough in this part of town to have an informed opinion, and would want to share it on my blog, won't sign their name.