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!!