Monday, August 21, 2006

San Francisco Treats

San Francisco Treats
Originally uploaded by Troy Smythe.
Broadway church is exploring the idea of radical hospitality. As part of that process they sent a group of us from the congregation to San Francisco to spend some time with folks at Glide Memorial Church. Here we are on one of the Twin Peaks (from l to r: Joe, Barb, Mike, Mark, Me, and Ellie).

This church was amazing. Back when crack started ravaging communities, and there seemed to be no hope for helping addicts recover, this church said, "we'll find a way." And they did. Many of the people on staff were recovered addicts and former homeless people. Social workers also made up a big part of the staff, which makes a lot of sense to me.

Glide starts from a place of unconditional love. I know that sounds trite, but they mean it. No strings of any kind are attached. During the church service, one of the pastors said, "we don't care what you just did, who you are, or even whether or not you share our faith. If God made you, we want you." Strange words to some, but we later met a woman who described herself as an atheist who moved from five hours away to San Francisco just to be a part of Glide. And she is involved in that church's ministries and prayer groups in ways that a lot of Christians aren't in their churches!

We were all amazed at how honest and grateful everyone was. Most of the people we met struggled with some kind of addiction. The church's motto is "we're all in recovery." No one seemed to have anything to lose or fear.

Sunday morning we attended the late service. Before service started we were looking for breakfast near the church which is downtown. As we walked by the church the early service was happening, and that old church was rocking (their worship service is a gospel music wonder). A guy standing in front of the church gave us a big friendly holler from across the street, "Y'all come to church!" I loved that. It reminded me of Jesus's parable of the guy giving a party who goes out into the streets to invite people when his rich friends wouldn't come. We hollered back that we would be at the later service.

I'm still processing all that I learned there. Our job now is to invite people from our church to talk with us about what we saw and to think about what radical hospitality might mean for us here in Indy.


Blogger Roger Sell said...

It does sound pretty radical... exciting, promising! Can't wait to hear your group's suggestions about how Broadway can move more in this direction.

1:08 PM  

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