Day 12 : Fremont market

Sunday morning was spent wandering around the Fremont market this morning. There were some interesting stalls, such as the Blissful Wunders Chocolate stall.

There is a big ‘retro’ thing going on in Fremont. Retro is cool and there are a nmber of shops selling stuff from my childhood … so much do I am wishing I brought a suitcase of old stuff to sell!

Deluxe Junk is a typical shop where amazing retro stuff from clothes to lampshades can be bought.

The rest of the day I’ll be involved in COTA stuff which I am looking forward to.

Day 11 : Space Needle or Reflections on the city

Saturday I had a day off so explored more of Downtown Seattle.
I started by catching the monorail from downtown Seattle to the Seattle Centre. A nice quick ride. From there I ascended the 520 feet at 10 mph in the lift, sorry elevator, to the 360° observation deck of the Space Needle. Despite an overcast day the views of the city were still quite stunning. The structure of the building is pretty impressive too, and it is hard to believe it was constructed in the 1960’s.

I had a coffee (there’s a surprise) while I looked out across the city. As well as taking lots of photos, I also walked around with the flip video and you can watch that here if interested.

Looking at the patterns and variation of the city caused me to reflect upon more of whay I am here and how varied, yet ordered God is. You can tell from the video and photos that Seattle is a fairly varied city. There is Pike Place market, the area around the Space Needle, the water, the skyscrapers, the low apartment blocks, industrial areas, dock areas …. I could continue to list. It’s very diverse and yet it is all Seattle.

Like wise, you can’t point to the Space Needle and say ‘that is Seattle’. As much as I, and many others love Pike Place Market, you can’t point to it and say ‘that is Seattle’. You might like the waterfront, but again you can’t point to it and say ‘that is Seattle’. Seattle isd a collection of them all. Without one part, something of the character of Seattle would be lost. To get an understanding of Seattle I need to visit a variety of areas. I am told to get the best understanding of Seattle I need to go on the underground tour. This shows the original Seattle that has been built on top of. To understand Seattle, I would need to look underground to learn something of its history.

In many ways this is similar to how we can grow in understanding of our faith in God. Our different interpretations of scripture or prayer are as varied as the buildings and neighbourhoods of Seattle. To understand more we need to observe and listen to all areas. To gain greater understanding of God we need to go underground with him, and explore the past roads of faith.

As we do this we need to realie that we will never come to a full understanding of God! Sermon over!

After all this reflection I soent money on gifts for the family to take home and then I met up with Ned to listen to some music in the 15th Avenue Coffee and Tea House – (just look at all these coffees they offer!)a pretty cool end to the day!

Last night …

 Today also had some goodbyes.

This past week I have enjoyed chatting with Sue and Scott, church leaders from Victoria, who came over on the Clipper Service last saturday to have a break in Seattle and drop into some of the stuff we were doing. We have had some great chats over beer, pizza, sushi and more beer …. or strawberry lemonade, coffee and … well you get the picture. I’ll miss them being around next week. I may well take a day out and visit them in Victoria though – who knows!

We also said good bye to the Lutheran students from Wartburg Seminary tonight. They have been on J-team and spent the week at COTA learning about emergent church. They have had a rough week as one of their fellow students, Ben Larson, was killed while on a similar team in Haiti. I can’t believe how his family must be feeling, nor how the students coped!

It’s been good having these guys around as well. I’ve laughed with them, joked about the language differences between the US and the UK and even found an ally in Jutta, having a year out from Germany, in talking about real football …. although she did seem to forget the 1st September 2001 in Munich.

I’ll miss laughing with these guys and sharing with their enthusiasm. I hope they have a good trip back (they will be on a train for 30 hours!!!!) and, who knows, if they ever visit God’s own country of England we may catch up again.

still learning

Today is the start of Thursday in Seattle, although I have just spoken to Sarah and the children as they are coming home from a day at school and work and now looking forward to Friday! I dont think I will ever get used to the 8 hour thing, and it is frustrating as I’d like to talk to Sarah alone, but it’s just not possible.

Yesterday I joined Karen at the Olympia Diocese clergy day, which was a pretty long day. Bishop Greg Rickel calls these meetings 4/6 times a year and each meeting is repeated, one in the north and the other in the south of the diocese as the area is quite large. It was interesting to see how the diocese is working and what is on its agenda. The morning was taken up by looking at Clause IV, the clergy discipline measure which the CofE has had on its agenda recently. I can’t pretendit was exhilarating stuff, but it was interesting to be part of the day. There was also a great passion to get involved in Haiti and helping there when the time is right. The diocese has been sending teams to New Orleans to help with the rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina, which the press have allowed us to forget about! Sadly the same will happen wit Haiti, but it looks like this diocese will continue to support there long after the TV cameras and press photographers have gone.

After the 45 min drive back to Seattle I wandered around Fremont again looking for Far east Handicrafts in search of a singing bowl. I have been looking for one of these for a while with my thinking being to sue these as an aid to worship in a similar way to bells being used in high churches. I was intrigued to see that singing bowls are used in a similar way withing COTA and they have bought them from the same shop.

I got to the shop and met Kirk. After chatting a little about the bowls I found one with the note I liked, but Kirk did not think the bowl sang for long enough so we went to the back of the shop to find a bowl that had the note I was looking for and sang longer. I ended up paying a few dollars less. The amazing thing about this place, though, is how it supports people in the areas of Nepal in which they work. First they only import what the people naturally make (e.g. they don’t get Buddhist making nativity scenes) and they fund 2 schools and a mobile cataract surgery that ‘brings sight to the blind’ in remote ares of the country. This is paid fro from profits and donations. So … as well as finding my singing bowl (or, ;-), did it find me) I have become connected to these brilliant projects.

At the end of the day we ate at Ivar’s Salmon House which I was told was a must while in Seattle. We had the most amazing salmon meal and I wasn’t disappointed.

Today I will spend more time with the Lutheran seminarians learning about the COTA rule of life and tonight we are catching up with Jon Myers again in pub theology, which sounds great to me.I hope we can get some good conversations going.

I’m continuing to reflect on my time here and experiencing more and more what Christianity COTA tyle looks like. A 24/7 Christianity means that these people like to spend time together. It is not just a church meeting or Sunday mentality. Lines between spirituality and normal everyday life are hazy, which means it is hard to work out what is happening, but I believe that is how it should be. I am really looking forward today to hearing more about the rule of life that COTA endeavors to follow, as I think this will go a long way in helping me to understand how things look and why they look as they do.

As I look down the long tunnel of COTA the mist is starting to rise a little for me … but only a little. I discover more things and learn more things, which in its own way brings more questions as well.

my first Sunday

I have ‘done’ my first Sunday in Seattle.
It’s Monday and I am writing this in a gap I have found as some students that are with us are taken on a tour of Fremont.

On Sunday morning we went over to Urban Life Church which is a new church set up in the Colombia City neighbourhood of Seattle. This church meets monthly in the Colombia City Theatre led by Buzz Matthews. As Buzz preached it was clear to see his passion for the area, but also to be able to see his frustration and confusion. Not many people were there, which is always downheartening, and he shared how it is tough being called to an area and yet not a lot seemingly happening. I chatted with Buzz afterwards and was struck by his faith of determination. This guy has a good ministry … he is in a tough area and yet is getting ‘out there’ with his wife and trying to connect with the people of the area.

The evening saw my first experience of a COTA Eucharist. This is a weekly event at 5.00pm every Sunday. The liturgy really helped me in my worship and the music and songs we sang had powerful lyrics. There were a lot of people, some took communion and some did not, but all were included and able to partake in the worship. After Jordan’s sermon there was time for people to respond via a number of stations around the abbey – again some chose to sit where they were and reflect on the suffering in Haiti while others sat in front of icons or lit candles. I grabbed some of the atmosphere in photos (which will be in the in the flickr album), but I did not want to take too many and risk distracting worshipers from a powerful encounter with God. I enjoyed this first authentic worship with the COTA community.

It has raised questions for me … such as not only how did this all start, but what skills are needed to maintain and keep this going? How does Karen release and enable others that are around her which orchestrate the things that happen? I also wonder how this is all planned with people that are already very busy in their lives as we all are in western society? It’s good to have questions and I know I am here long enough to be able to explore some of them. It seems though, that as questions are answered more raise in my mind. I wonder if I can organise a few interview type times with people to look at some of these questions?

After the service we did pub theology where I spoke about Fresh Expressions and what I am doing in Rochester. The audience had some good questions, as well as some honest concerns, and it was really good to be aprt of this gathering. People said kind things afterwards and I hope that the simplness of my presentation showed that we can all be involved in new ways of being church – and that we are all learning and journeying together. Before I spoke someone said ‘you are the expert’ …. but that isn’t true. In Fresh Expressions, or Emerging Church or whatever language we choose, none of us are experts as none of us have been around. My response was ‘I can talk well about where I have been … but I don’t have a clue where I am going!’

I enjoyed my first Sunday and look forward to interacting with some Lutheran Seminary students which are with us for the rest of this week to learn about emerging church and COTA. I’m going to sit in on some of the sessions and earn as well!

climbing the mountain

Saturday … a great day.
I got up early and had a morning stroll around Fremont with my camera. I love taking photos when the place is just waking up … the mist was rolling up the lake and slowly embracing the footfalls of the bridge. It was good to watch.

I had an early breakfast in Roxy’s Diner …. very large with a bottom-less cup of coffee which I already know is something i am going to miss when I leave here. I managed to grab a quick chat with Tom on the mobile to wish him happy birthday and then also managed a longer chat with everyone over skype, which is an amazing tool for times such as these, and probably better quality than the paid for call I made earlier in the day.

I then went on a hike in The Cascades with Matt and Phil from COTA, two excellent guys who gave up their Saturdayto give me an experience I won’t forget in a while. We walked a couple of miles but ascended 1100 feet to Rattlesnake Ledge and were rewarded with some stunning views which I have uploaded in the flickr album. You need to scroll down the bottom to see the newer photos. The pic here is the view from the top of Rattlesnake Ledge. Following that experienced a nbit more American culture … FatBurger and Krispy Kreme

It has been a great day and in a bout 30 minutes Karen will pick me up and we are going to meet some Canadian visitors and have dinner with them. Tomorrow will be quite a packed day … but that’s tomorrows blog innit!

First reflections

I’ve been with COTA for 24 hours and slowly getting to see how things work. Initial personal thoughtsare that this is a community that is passionate about life and like to enjoy celebrating. Karen mentioned something like COTA having a reputation in the diocese of being a church that likes to party. I think that is a fantastic reputation to have.

After a tour around Fremont yesterday I met up with Jordan who is the Community Architect. Jordan’s role ensure that everything runs smoothly and that people are kept informed and things happen when they should happen. This obviously releases Karen to continue being the visionary within the community. Jordan’s role is obviously key and he seems to love what he does. I like the language of architect too as it seems to sum up the skill needed in this role.

After our chat over some fantastic coffee (how many times will I say that while I am here?!) I attended the COTA Bishops Committee. This is the decision making body of COTA that refers directly to the bishop, rather than having a PCC which a parish church would have. This is a meeting that allows COTA to consider it’s relationship to the rest of the church and the area. It’s got me thinking about out gathering in Gillingham, and wondering what we do to explore our relationship with the wider church. I don’t think it is too early to start to consider that question.

I ended the day in the pub!  (some of you will say ‘no change there then!!) Earlier in the day Jordan welcomed me via facebook and carried a link to the blog for COTA people to know a little about me. Within a very short pace of time April messaged me to invite me to a gathering they were having in a The Park Pub that evening to celebrate her getting a job. That’s pretty good welcoming … it was a great evening and a pub of wonderful beers – the porter I was drinking was an amazing dark ale! People in Seattle definitely take both their coffee and beer very seriously!

It was great to be able to simply chat with people from COTA in a good relaxed atmosphere over a beer. I’m here for just under 3 weeks now … and I hope I get the chance to sup coffee or beer with lots of other COTA people.

For those interested I’m uploading my seattle pics on Flickr here as and when I get a chance

i’m here!

Just a little pic to show I’m here. Taken the first morning in Gasworks Park with the view of downtown Seattle in the background. I’ll et to visit more of downtown on Saturday.

It’s been a good first morning with a tour of Fremont, breakfast and a great chat with Chris. Fremont is a pretty cool place with interesting art installations around the place.

I was particularly intrigued by the statue of Lenin. Found face down in the mud in Czechoslovakia after the collapse of the USSR, by Lewis Carpenter who mortgaged his house to buy and transport it to Seattle! Following the death of Carpenter his family loaned the statue to Fremont district and it’s on display. It’s also for sale if you have  spare $150 000!!