Vincent Harding (right: on the sacred grounds of Alex Haley Farm in Clinton, TN, where some of Harding's ashes were scattered)
This month has been brimming with relationship: from Detroit and beyond. We helped facilitate a little retreat in Port Sanilac (about 100 miles northwest of Detroit) for our Wednesday night lectio divina community.
We hosted a youth group from Ann Arbor for a conversation about what a real "Comeback of Detroit" might look like.
We recruited a dozen volunteers to help us transfer 900 gallons of bottled water from the Eastside to our water station at St. Peter’s.
We joined friends in a gathering at the home of our friend Cait De Mott Grady for a screening of "The Trial of the St. Patrick's Four," a documentary about a nonviolent direct action in Ithaca, NY to protest the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. Cait's dad participated in the action (sentenced to 8 months in prison) and there are some great interview clips of Cait in her teen years.
We spent delicious time with Lindsay’s brother and his wife (Greg and Casey) on the Deschutes River in Bend, Oregon and a long weekend with dear friends Peter and Solveig Nilsen-Goodin (and their sons Soren and Stig) of the Wilderness Way Community in Portland.
Last week, we trekked down to Tennessee for the Children’s Defense Fund’s 22nd Annual Proctor Institute. We facilitated a two-hour workshop on the water shut-offs in Detroit, particularly how they are devastating the lives of poor women and children (photo below: before she moved to Detroit, Marian Kramer learned to drive as a teenager working for the Civil Rights Movement in the Jim Crow South).
Proctor is a showcase of some of the best black preaching in the country—so it was a time of inspiration (experienced two of the most phenomenal sermons in our lives). It also gave us an opportunity to participate in late-night sessions gathered on the porch with leaders like Joyce and Nelson Johnson, Greensboro, NC-based pastors who facilitated the unique Truth and Reconciliation process after members of the KKK shot and killed Civil Rights protesters in the late 70s. Read Tom's review on RadicalDiscipleship.Net HERE.
After the Monday-Friday conference, we posted up in Kentucky for a few nights with Ched Myers and Elaine Enns for a little Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries staff retreat.
Our retreat with Ched and Elaine allowed us to start massaging some of the details of our next year of ministry with BCM. We have decided to conclude our time in Detroit in late September of this year. We started this Journey in August 2014, committing to a one-year service and learning year and renewed the contract last summer. We are feeling excited about carrying on much of this same work in other locales. Specifically, we are envisioning late 2016 through 2017 as a time of itinerancy, spending a few months at a time in different cities in North America:
to learn the unique challenges facing communities committing to organize against injustice and poverty;
to serve interpersonally as pastoral and healing “change agents” of support, healing and recovery;
to help facilitate groups for those seeking spiritual and emotional renewal;
to interview, research and write reports from on the ground, and to apprentice ourselves to the unique histories, hardships and hopes each of these places hold.
We have started dialoguing with some of the leaders in these locales, to start dreaming and strategizing. We will use this blog space to continue updating our plans in the future—near and far. For now, we covet your prayers: for discernment, for wisdom, for energy and words adequate to share our gratitude and grief as we transition away from all these friends we’ve sojourned with in Detroit over the past two years. The work remains intense and overwhelming at times. Our neighborhood is in transition—many coming and going. Water shut-offs continue. The heat and humidity is oppressive. But, now more than ever, we are reminded that we are not alone! Thank you for your ongoing solidarity and encouragement!