September Update 2011
A couple of days ago a local pastor told me that he saw MSA as a community hub and matchmaker that networked like-minded people and ministries. This summer has certainly exemplified that. We have been both encouraged and blessed by the many opportunities to bring like minded people together sharing creative examples of what others are doing and stirring peoples’ imaginations to create new and innovative possibilities for their own lives and ministries. The momentum of the Mustard Seed Village Project is accelerating, the MSA team is growing and God is providing resources in remarkable ways.
MSA A Networking HubOur summer networking began with the Wild Goose Festival in June and progressed through our recession readiness session in conjunction with the Diocese of Olympia of the Episcopal Church, the Washington Association of Churches, and the Parish Collective. In August Tom and I also spoke to Reformed Christian Educators on re-imaging K-12 education preparing kids to live and serve in a much more uncertain future. We also led a creativity workshop for Kent Covenant Church, and participants came up with some very innovative ways to live and serve God in their community which is one of the most ethnically diverse in Washington state.
This last weekend we held another significant networking event, bringing together members of the Parish Collective, Seattle School of Theology and Psychology and Seattle Mennonite Church for fun food and fellowship as well as for a discussion about the role of the church in local and regional sustainability. We hope to meet again in October and expect that in the coming year this will become a hub for networking many who are concerned, as we are about economic, environmental and spiritual sustainability.
At Godspace, I have just completed a series on Tools for Prayer which was greatly enriched by the contributions of guest writers in Canada, Singapore and the US. As I commented in my post however, I realize that this is a never ending discussion and hope that in the coming days some of you can help me add to this topic. The ways of prayer have not all been invented yet and there is still much room for creativity and for learning from each other.
Jubilee and New BeginningsOur 20th annual Celtic retreat on Camano Island brought together an incredibly diverse group from Canada and U.S. It was a very moving event with great enthusiasm and anticipation for the development of the Mustard Seed Village. Our theme of Jubilee and New Beginnings was significant for many attendees. For us personally the new beginnings were profoundly celebrated in a very meaningful ceremony on the recently cleared land that roughly marks where the pole barn will be erected. We drove a pole into the ground where our pole barn will soon stand and then prayed for the new beginnings in construction of the Mustard Seed Village and fulfillment of the vision God has given us. You can view more photos from the retreat or check out liturgies from the retreat and listen to reflections from first time attendee Owen Brown here.
We are still on track to launch the SEED Semester Away Program in partnership with Creation Care Study Program September 2012. Tom and Forrest Inslee have worked with a curriculum advisory group to design a unique curriculum which will enable students to:
- Increase their understanding of environmental, economic, political, societal, and religious issues facing our troubled planet and learn to anticipate some of the new challenges likely to face both society and our endangered planet tomorrow
- Learn about and work with groups, like A Rocha and Sustainable Bellingham, that are creating innovative responses to these challenges. We hope this will inspire the students to create their own ideas of how to enable local communities to fashion sustainable economic and agricultural networks wherever they choose to live.
- Experience co-housing and other eco-villages in the Northwest. We hope this will ignite their imagination to create new models of community for their lives that are more sustainable environmentally and economically after they finish college.
- We also hope these new models not only enable students to free up more time and resources to invest in advancing God’s purposes, but also to more authentically reflect the values of God’s new creation in their community-based lifestyles.
New Ideas and New Beginnings for the FutureAll of us on the MSA team are passionate about the need to provide resources that prepare us to live as more effective followers of Christ in these volatile times. We want to continue providing publications, hosting events and networking opportunities that enable all of us to create innovative responses to the challenges of both today and tomorrow and are excited about the emerging possibilities for the coming year.
This year we are expanding our Advent resources to include a daily devotional guide as well daily reflections at Godspace, both drawn from our worldwide network of authors. We expect that this will be the first in a series of devotional guides designed to encourage us to grapple with the challenges of our turbulent world and provide tools that strengthen our faith.
In January 2012 we plan to relaunch a new monthly e-zine called Imagine That – creating mustard seeds of change, hope & new life. This will be a place not only to relate creative examples but also to stir imagination and awaken creativity that enables us to imagine and create appropriate responses for our own locations. We encourage you to frequent our website and Facebook pages, contribute your ideas and comments so that all of us can be enriched and better equipped for the future.
Growing the Mustard Seed Team – We Need A Garden ManagerPlanting at the Mustard Seed House – A garden manager could help us develop a new agricultural ministry for MSA
The MSA team is growing and will continue to expand in this coming year. We are currently looking for student interns and have added a new position to the MSA team that of garden manager.
This position is an exciting opportunity to help develop a new area of ministry for MSA as we seek to model a way of life that emphasizes both concern for God’s creation and for local and regional sustainability. The garden manager would care for our existing urban vegetable garden in Seattle and develop another much larger garden for the Mustard Seed Village on Camano Island. The existing garden currently provides some of the produce for the community at the Mustard Seed House but we would like to see this expanded to help provide for others in the broader community. And there are other possible collaborators and additions to the team for the Mustard Seed Village on the horizon.
We have also been blessed with new volunteers here at the Mustard Seed House. We have a new book keeper, Nancy Merklinghaus, and an executive secretary Bonnie-Jean Heather both of whom are a huge blessing to our growing ministry.
Let me close with a couple of the prayers that I have posted on Facebook in recent weeks
God stir our imaginations and awaken our creativity today,
May we reach towards your heart and see your ways to move forward.
May we look to the future and not to the past,
Grabbing hold of your vision for a transformed world.
God may we today enter the promise of each moment,
Seeing that each day is pregnant with new possibilities.
May we believe each moment is alive with new beginnings,
Brand new right now not from the past.
May we listen for your secrets not yet heard,
And look for your dreams not yet fulfilled.
May we follow Christ’s example and fulfill God’s dreams,
For a people transformed and a world made new.
This is an exciting time of growth and new beginnings for Mustard Seed Associates. We appreciate your prayers and support as we move towards the development of new resources, the launch of the Mustard Seed Village and the relaunch of our monthly ezine.
God bless you,