Friday, September 12, 2008

Life is good.

Life is good. Very, very good.

We had an awesome day yesterday...
  • We began with breakfast with our coach Paul Nixon, Erica, and Sara at a funky little place called Hot Suppa (they serve breakfast and lunch, but not 'suppa')... then a pretty extensive driving tour of Portland, orienting Paul to the diverse neighborhoods of this awesome city we call home...

  • As we drove by the former Chestnut Street United Methodist Church, the longtime historic home of the established congregation we serve, next to City Hall, we noticed the doors were open as construction workers carried in sheets of plywood -- the first time we've seen them open since we've been in Portland! -- and we got to go in and poke around. Wow! It was my first time in there, believe it or not. We got to talk to the couple who've bought it and are doing a major renovation, interior and exterior, to open a restaurant in the former sanctuary (stained glass, pipe organ, balcony, and all!) and an events venue in the basement hall. Apparently the chancel area is going to be an open kitchen, with the high arch and the elaborate pipe organ and facade fully visible. There will be a bar in the middle of what used to be the nave full of pews. I can already hear the reaction of some of the more traditionally minded members of the congregation, but personally I'm delighted that the building won't be sitting empty much longer, and honestly, I can't wait to see it.

  • From there, we toured the High Street property that we're in the process of purchasing -- a stark contrast from the enormous and architecturally imposing Chestnut Street facility, but full of possibilities nonetheless. We spent an hour or so there (long enough to get a parking ticket), and Paul had some really great suggestions about things we should and shouldn't do. We'll spend some time talking with the Chestnut congregation about some of these things over lunch today.

  • After lunch outside on the Custom House Wharf at Port Hole Restaurant, we had a really helpful meeting with our District Superintendent, who has been incredibly supportive. It was really good to be able to talk through some specific things with Paul and Mike in the same room -- things like a more effective process for developing a unified budget for our combined ministry, the importance of articulating some benchmarks with specific metrics, strategies for navigating potential pitfalls... good stuff.

  • We gave Paul a little break while we picked Rachel up from daycare, and then returned to our house for a New Light community gathering. Wow! Amazing! We had Thai take-out and just enjoyed some relaxed time sharing table fellowship. After dinner, we shared worship, during which we remembered the tragedy of 9/11 and lit lots of candles representing our prayers for the world, and then had some really good conversation time with Paul. The energy was great -- Paul says we have a "really good vibe," and I think he's right. There were 17 of us, I think -- almost all of them in their 20s -- and just a wonderful spirit, lots of laughter, deep and growing relationships, hope and excitement for the future of our ministry, thoughtful questions, affirming words about the approach we're taking... just really, really good. I feel like New Light is really headed somewhere, and those who gathered tonight totally confirmed that for me.

  • And today's going to be another great day. We have some focused time with Paul this morning, and then we're off for a good old-fashioned potluck lunch with the Chestnut congregation. Paul will be challenging in some places and I'm sure encouraging in others. We'll conclude the afternoon with some focused time with the New Light Leadership Community before sending Paul off on a plane for D.C. We're just so thankful for someone like him to coach us as we navigate these waters, and thankful for this face-to-face time we've had together.

  • I'm starting a new day so filled with hope and joy. More every day, I love this city to which God has called us. More every day, I feel a passionate commitment to this ministry we're beginning. More every day, I see the hand of God moving so clearly. Oh, I know there will be many more discouraging moments ahead, just as there have been many in days past -- I'm not naive enough to think otherwise -- but I know I am where I am called to be, doing the very thing for which I was created, and that is good. Very, very good. Thanks be to God.


Unknown said...

Wonderful!! I'm so glad to read this report on your time with Paul.

Pastor Justin Hildebrandt said...

Thanks be to God for days filled with hope! I so enjoy hearing your journey and continue to pray for your ministry in Portland.