It feels a little strange. Because a subset of the 10:30 worship group is who makes up the leadership team at our place. They are the group that helps us keep focused and making good risks for God in this place. They are the group that helps us pray and remember that this campus is for the glory of God and not just for the benefit of the people that worship at 10:30am on Sunday morning. Because the church (and the nature of the church) is changing. It used to be that all the "programs" of any Christian church were run from the contributions of the people in the pews. And that "church" was a place we went to feel holy and connect to God. And many of the programs at most churches were run for the benefit of the people that attended worship (or would attend worship after they came to a program). And now God is doing a new thing. A core group of people -- anchored to God and wiling to do the work of God are seeking ways to do meaningful justice work in our neighborhood. And God has invited Parker Lane to play host to this meaningful work. God has invited us to become a jumbled mix of wonderful work -- connected to God through each other and through prayer -- those we offer on our own behalf and those that are offered by others. We have become more than just the people that come to worship at 10:30 on Sunday morning.
So now, "the church" is....
* Folks that gather on Sunday evening and pray mostly in Matu (one of the languages from the country of Myanmar).
* Folks that make up the community of Auxanomen.org -- which means the clinicians, and the clients, the board members and the volunteers. That group has ties to the University of Texas (mostly with the School of Nursing but also with a Student organization called "Hooked on the Cure.")
* Folks that gather to volunteer at the East Austin Walkin Counseling Center and the people that come to the center to be heard and to make plans.
*Mary Jones, our Wesley Nurse and everyone who calls on Mary for help and encouragement, exercise or coaching on health issues.
* RedemptiveWork.org -- a non-profit run by Rev. Dr. Mindy Johnson-Hicks (with help from a board of directors and Rev. Dr. Tina Carter) they write books, train folks on cross-cultural ministry (working across economic lines) and they also help folks who are "traditionally unemployable" find work and meaning.
* Our community garden (which is also used by the Matu speaking community) where food is grown and shared with the worshiping community and also with the food pantry at St. Ignatius Catholic Church on Oltorf.
* Trinity Ministries that is finding its voice in our neighborhood and has been host to street art events, basketball for young men and basketball camps. This group has worshiped in the chapel and has shared communion together.
* The 12 step groups that meet on our camps -- which includes AA on Sunday at noon in the Chapel and Tuesday evenings in the same location. And NA which meets on Thursday night.
* Young Life groups -- most of the time they meet on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons after school. Most of the young people are from Travis High School. Their college age volunteers help them hear the love of God in real voices.
* Kids Korner afterschool program -- both in their staff and in their children they are definitely part of "we". They have chapel and the children get to hear God's word and are encouraged in their learning.
* The Thrift Store -- the volunteers and the people who donate. Some people donate regularly and see the Thrift Store as a part of their ability to give back to the community.
* The people who live on the campus at Parker Lane including Tina Carter, Aizik Rios, Henry Fennell, Joanne Mercado, Bill Carter, Eric Carter, and Mark Campolo. We are neighbors not just to each other but to all the people that travel through our campus to take pictures in the wildflowers or to walk their dogs.
* The community members who rent the gym -- for a meal after a funeral or a baby shower or their child's birthday the fact that we allow the community to use our Gym for family celebrations means that some people have the opportunity to host more than just the people that will fit in their apartment.
* The Red Cross and those that are served by the emergency shelter when it is open at Parker Lane United Methodist Church. When you are in the midst of a crisis having some where to go that is warm and safe makes a big difference.
* The Promotoras de Salud -- they are working on the paperwork to become their own non-profit. In the meantime they are helping to education people in our neighborhoods on all kinds of health issues. More than that, they are training 8-12 women a year on a wide range of health issues and reminding them of their own giftedness and ability to build up our community.
* Westlake UMC members that travel to Parker Lane to share their excess at the Thrift Store or help with an Advent Celebration, attend Crossover or have a great idea for a English as a second language class but no space at their church to teach something like that.
* Texas Fencing Academy that gathers in the gym on Monday and Wednesday nights and the parents that hang out and take phone calls and use the internet and wait while their kids learn more about self-discipline and teamwork and fencing.
* Yoga participants that gather on Thursday evening, and their teacher Jogi Bhaghat who regularly reads our newsletter, makes great suggestions, contributes to our special missions like CROP Walk and gently leads yoga that persons of all abilities can participate in.
* Our newest edition, Justice for our Neighbors (JFON) whose new attorney will start Monday morning in her new office at Parker Lane UMC. She will do most of her work at the big clinics that will be held at Servant Church on Thirty-eight and a half street near the Fiesta that's on I-35.
* And, of course, the people that gather at Parker Lane at 10:30 on Sunday morning to worship God. Some of these folks also gather at other times to make sure the the doors and internet are working and that the electricity bills are paid and that beautiful music is ready for worship, and that the persons in charge of saying, "yes" to God's work in the community.