Today our building is being used by a local Muslim group working with Afghan refugees. The program is called Alternatives to Violence and it was originally created by incarcerated individuals working to help communities to work out conflict peacefully. Here is a link to the movement here in the US: https://avpusa.org/. The program is rooted in the peace activism and non-violent civil rights work found in the Quaker movement. I look forward to learning more about this important movement and there may be ways for our congregation to connect to it in the future.
I cannot tell you how much I love having our building filled with community groups. We have such a beautiful, warm, welcoming building that radiates hospitality and safety. And it isn’t just the architecture…somehow our space holds our history and the spirit of our community. People feel it when they walk in. When I came here 11 years ago, I felt so at home here that it seemed important to invite the community into our building. Over the years, we have slowly increased the groups here. Rev. Michele makes this possible with her work in managing the building and its users.
In our budget meeting on Sunday, we talked about how our building use income is growing and that is helping us be able to do the things we love to do as a church. It is important that we diversify our revenue so that we have long-term financial stability. And at the same time, our building is part of our outreach into our community. This weekend, we are offering a safe place for Afghan refugees and their children to reflect on peace-making. During the pandemic, our building was used by immigrant children who needed a safe place to be while school was virtual. We have a preschool now that serves families with little children and a music school that teaches young people to love making music. We have 12 step programs and International Neighbors and Project Transition. It is sometimes unwieldy and messy but it is good work.
In a world were space is monetized and scarce, particularly for marginalized groups, this is important and sacred work. We are a safe place, both spiritually and physically. We are a sanctuary for people. Our building expresses our mission…a mission of love, equity, and justice.
Thank you for being church, for being sanctuary.
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