Not Landlords but Partners
St Paul’s congregation, Toowoomba, is committed to partnering with the community groups who use our facilities. I’m delighted to be given the opportunity to write about St Paul’s engagement with two community groups in particular: Shed Men and Disco. The mission of Shed Men is to encourage men to engage with each other in a creative environment, while Disco’s mission is to foster self-confidence in youth in order that they may be able to gain employment or a career. St Paul’s members have sincerely desired to engage and partner with the community in a way that is helpful and life-giving and so have put in the time and effort to begin to establish meaningful relationships with these groups. When a situation is encountered where there is a need, a member is not long in coming forward to ensure that this is met.
Pastor Mark Demmer made the comment that God is working in a way we can’t always see. I was encouraged by the way he emphasised that we are in is a partnership rather than a landlord-tenant relationship. It reminded me of how Richard Rohr, Franciscan priest points to the relational nature of God, inviting us to aspire to “the readiness, the capacity, and the willingness to stay in relationship.” Rohr adds: “As long as you show up with some degree of vulnerability, the Spirit can keep working.” As a congregation, we are learning to recognise that we are not self-sufficient. We are choosing to show up even when it is difficult and we are choosing to be open to people outside our group.
Change happens slowly. I personally sometimes wonder what would happen if, as a church, we committed ourselves to a practice of silent prayer so that all our actions could stem from this. My concern is for those members who continually work tirelessly in an effort to make a difference. Here we have the perfect opportunity not so much to change a situation but to be in solidarity with those who need encouragement and a welcoming space. Thank-you St Paul’s.
The photo above shows St Paul’s member Kathy Steger facing the DISCO sign, with the men’s shed behind her.