Thursday, September 26, 2019

youth art team turns 9 years old!

In 2009, I joined friends of Harvest Vineyard Church and walked throughout the church's neighborhood (the Walnut Neighborhood) to introduce ourselves and to ask neighbors:
1. What do you like about the neighborhood?  2.  What would you like to see happening in your neighborhood?  3.  What interests and passions can you see contributing in your neighborhood?  
4.  Would you like prayer for anything in particular? 

Through these conversations, there were several neighbors who voiced their desire for more productive activities for children of the neighborhood.  It was through listening to the community, that a weekly gathering started up for young people in the neighborhood.  Whiffle ball, chalk drawing, jump rope, dancing, acrobats, drawing....young people gathered with a small group of caring adults for a few summers of weekly recreation.

What did we notice?  How wonderfully expressive and artistically free children are!  It was out of these relationships with Walnut neighborhood children and young people from Harvest Vineyard and Orchard Hill churches that the Youth Art Team was birthed in 2010.

And oh, how Youth Art Team has grown and blessed our community over the past nine years!  Come celebrate 9 years of God's transforming beauty, creativity, love, and peacemaking through these young people!

Celebrating NINE YEARS of Youth Art Team

Tue. October 1 // 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Waterloo Center for the Arts
colorful model butterfly sculptures with paint roller and stir sticks
remaking the peacock mural in bright teal and white
urban gallery figures getting set up for the exhibit
The Youth Art Team, Waterloo Center for the Arts, and a team of UNI students have been working hard to create a new, interactive exhibit experience celebrating nine years of Youth Art Team in our community! Visit the Phelps Youth Pavilion to play, learn about these amazing young artists, and be inspired to make your own art.

Please join us and meet some of the artists during the exhibit reception!

Youth Art Team transforms their community through art

Tue. October 1 @ 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Waterloo Center for the Arts
Phelps Youth Pavilion
(McElroy Junior Art Gallery)
225 Commercial St

Free admission
Family friendly
Refreshments provided

If you can't make it to the reception, be sure to check out the exhibit on display for the next few months!

Saturday, September 14, 2019

mission or pilgrim posture?

This quote spoke to my interior pilgrim this morning!

"Through a profound rhythm of journeying, encountering sites of pain and hope, engaging the history and culture, serving and being present with those on the margins, worshiping, resting and reflecting, pilgrims are slowly confronted by a different world that begins to interrupt their own.  Pilgrimage is a posture very different from mission.  The goal of a pilgrim is not to solve but to search, not so much to help as to be present.  Pilgrims do not rush to a goal, but slow down to hear the crying.  They are not as interested in making a difference as they are in making new friends.  Pilgrims set out not so much to assist strangers but to eat with them."

-Chris Rice and Emanuel Katangole, from their book Reconciling All Things

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

first 18 minutes

If you watch the first 18 minutes of last night's Waterloo, IA, City Council Meeting, you will be able to hear the proclamation I shared yesterday and you will see a 6 minute video of our Vision Trip to the South last month. 

Monday, December 10, 2018

human rights day december 10

I had the pleasure of joining others at the Waterloo City Council Meeting tonight to stand with Mayor Hart as he read this Human Rights Proclamation over our community:

City of Waterloo, Iowa

On December 10, 1948, nations from six continents came together to adopt the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  This extraordinary document affirmed that every individual is born equal with inalienable rights, and it is the responsibility of governments to uphold these rights.  In more than 430 translations, the Declaration recognizes the inherent dignity and worth of all people and supports their right to chart their own destinies.  On the anniversary of this human rights milestone, we join with all those who are willing to strive for a brighter future, and together, we continue our work to build the world our children deserve; and
We want our children to lead healthy lives and pursue an education without fear, and when citizens are empowered to pursue their full measure of happiness without restraint, they help ensure that economies grow, stability and prosperity spread, and communities flourish.  Protecting human rights everywhere extends the promise of democracy and bolsters the values that serve as a basis for peace in our world; and
It is our obligation as free people to stand with courageous individuals who raise their voices to demand universal rights.  Under extremely difficult circumstances – and often at grave personal risk – brave human rights defenders and civil society activists throughout the Cedar Valley are working to actualize the rights and freedoms that are the birthright of all humankind.  We will continue to support all those who champion these fundamental principles, and we will never stop speaking out for the human rights of all individuals, at home and abroad.  It is part of who we are as a people and what we stand for as a Cedar Valley United; and
We honor those by continually working to protect the personal dignity of all Waterloo citizens regardless of race, gender, religion or non-religion, ethnic background, sexual orientation, national origin or ability and to ensure social, political and economic freedoms and opportunities for all;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Mayor Quentin Hart, do hereby proclaim Monday, December 10, 2018, the official recognition of International Human Rights Day Celebration in Waterloo, and the official kick-off of a city-wide “2019 Human Rights Corridor of Activity.” This “Corridor of Activity” features round table discussions, theatrical productions, community book-reads, the inimitable  Waterloo Freedom Bus Tour, and celebrates 51 years since the assassination of the beloved Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose servant leadership led to the creation of civil and human rights organizations throughout the nation, including Waterloo Commission on Human Rights.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the official seal of the City of Waterloo to be affixed this 10th day of December 2018.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

those who have gone before

It was on this date 63 years ago.  December 1,1955.  Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of a bus.  Read her story here.

I was in Memphis at the Civil Rights Museum a few weeks ago with my neighbor, Willie Mae Wright, a Civil Rights hero in her own right.  Willie Mae told me that she always sits at the front of the bus. 

In her own words, "Ever since Rosa Parks, I always sit in the front of the bus.  I just can't bring myself to go to the back.  And when I vote, I never use an absentee ballot.  I always go to polling place to vote after so many have given so much for the right to vote."

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

moral memory, identity, participation, imagination

Pastor Abraham Funchess gave our group a folder of materials to read through as we traveled to Memphis on our recent Civil Rights Vision Tour.  One of the articles was a chapter from a book written by Kelly Douglas Brown called Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God.

In this chapter (chapter 6), Brown writes...


"Moral memory is nothing less than telling the truth about the past and one's relationship to it."
"To have a moral memory is to recognize the past we carry within us, the past we want to carry within us, and the past we need to make right."
"A moral memory recalls the story of America's chosen identity, the way it is shaped by the Anglo-Saxon myth, and thus recognizes how that continues to play itself out in our current reality."


"A moral identity recognizes, as Paul Tillich says, 'that every human soul has infinite value.'"
"A moral identity is one that is relieved of pretensions to superiority. It lets go of any myths that suggest one people is more valuable than another or that one people is chosen by God while another is not."
"A moral identity affirms the shared humanity of all human beings."
"Essentially, it is with a moral identity that one lives into the image of God who is freedom."


"This is a participation marked by a commitment to freedom, love, and life.  Such participation is a matter of faith."
"God's call to faith is an invitation to become a partner with God in 'the mending of creation.'"
"The Greek word for faith, as used in the Gospels, is pistis.  This word does not suggest a way of thinking about who God is or reflecting upon God's relationship to us.  Rather, it points to a way of acting in light of our relationship to God."
"The only way to change the realities of the world is through moral participation in history."


"A moral imagination is grounded in the absolute belief that the world can be better."
"A moral imagination envisions Isaiah's 'new heaven and new earth,' where 'the wolf and the lamb shall feed together,' and trusts that it will be made real."
"With a moral imagination, one is able to live as if the new heaven and new earth are already here.  This means that one's life is not constrained by what is."
"Moral imagination allows black bodies to live as free black bodies, despite the forces that would deny that fact."

Sunday, November 25, 2018

braving the wilderness

This past year, a friend gave me Brene Brown's book Braving the Wilderness.  I needed it.  I loved it.  I then ordered another one of her books, Rising Strong.  I needed it.  I loved it.  I have recently ordered both on CD so that I can listen and listen to them on my daily drives to and from places.

Brown identifies and articulates so much about ourselves as individuals and as a collective, and even better, she offers some skills and steps to overcome some of the trouble spots we have as humans. 

In Braving the Wilderness, Brown talks about the fear and the disconnection that we are experiencing in our lives and helps us address the fear and conflict to move toward one another in courage and love.  It's a much needed read for us in the midst of such divisive times. 

"Addressing this crisis will require a tremendous amount of courage.  For the moment, most of us are either making the choice to protect ourselves from conflict, discomfort, and vulnerability by staying quiet, or picking sides and in the process slowly and paradoxically adopting the behavior of the people we're fighting.  Either way, the choices we're making to protect our beliefs and ourselves are leaving us disconnected, afraid, and lonely.  Very few people are working on connection outside the lines drawn by 'their side'.  Finding love and true belonging in our shared humanity is going to take a tremendous resolution."

Brown then goes on to teach us how to "brave some serious wilderness" through four practices. I need her writing to inform and teach me.  I need and am grateful for friends to practice braving in the wilderness so that we might ultimately "become the wilderness". 

You can check out the table of contents and reviews of this book here