Last week was intense! Earning four units of continuing education in Community Organizing at CDSP (Church Divinity School of the Pacific), I sat at the feet of some pretty powerful community organizers – people whose training and organizing methods were used by President Obama when he was still a community organizer himself in Chicago. It may not be possible to summarize 10 hours a day for five days into one blog, but if I could use a couple of thoughts in attempt to summarize, I would borrow from Dr. Stephen Covey’s work, The Seven Basic Habits of Highly Effective People- “begin with the end in mind” and “seek first to understand”.
Like most endeavors that are effective, relationships built and sustained are the hub. I know I am not the only one who wants to do ministry and go into community action with people that have our back, people we know we can trust when the going gets tough – a band of brothers and sisters. Jesus, who in my opinion was the most effective of all people who roamed our earth when it comes to relationship building, knew how to select and call a core group of followers. These men and women literally followed Him to the cross. Few of us need reminding that His ministry was about social change, teaching effective living and healing the wounds of the poor and the marginalized.
Sitting in my study today at Grace Baptist Church across the street from the campus, I am beginning with the end in mind thinking about how to reach out to those young people who need to know that they are Beloved. We reach out with no strings attached, nothing to sign up for, no commitments except to receive a blessing and maybe join us in building a sustaining community of friends.
As I begin the Spring Semester, I am blessed to have a wonderful student intern, A’Lester Allen, a great board of trustees who serve the Canterbury Foundation and the men, women and congregations of the Episcopal Church who donate to the ministry of building relationships with people of all faiths and belief systems. In the words of Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful citizens can change the world. Indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.”