Archives for posts with tag: Temple Houses

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Here on Arsenal Street I am observing our Temple House candle and prayer hour.

Each Wednesday our Temple House community lights a candle in a window at 8 PM.  For an hour we take time to pray for peace in our St Louis neighborhood.

This week I pray with the memory of 4 evenly spaced gunshots two nights ago.  The day before, Miss Gigi shook her head at our Sunday evening meal when we talked about how warmer weather means more shooting.  She pointed to the alley behind us.  They shoot back there.  Yup.

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Last week I took this photo walking home from Sara’s place.  We had finished our Tuesday meal together hosted in her home.  Over plates of enchiladas Stephen, Jessica and I had discussed how individuals who are people of color (Stephen and me) become the spokesperson for all those who look like us.  At least in the eyes of people who are not of our color.  I don’t mean just white people.  All of us tend to this simple-mindedness.  Our conversation made us more aware of our tendency.  More aware of what to overcome.  Then it was time for banana bread and fresh strawberries with whipped cream.

The weather has been great here in St Louis.  I’ll soon begin my fourth summer here and after years of Chicago summers can’t say that it’s any stickier, hotter here.  The sky over St Louis can be dramatic with cumulonimbus clouds and storm fronts that rush through.

Drama.  Living in a neighborhood with gunshots a regular feature causes a person to take the shooting a little less seriously.  A few months ago during an early Sunday morning run I heard gunshots, listened carefully, gauged them to be from one direction several blocks away, and corrected my running course in another direction.  Simple.

A little less serious.  Cavalier?  That, among other reasons, is why on Wednesday evenings we light a candle and pray.

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Sunday evening in Temple Gardens for a grand cookout and potluck.  Behind us to the right is the alley about which Miss Gigi just shakes her head.

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Prayer candle

This week began our Wednesday evening prayer for safety and peace in St Louis.

Behind the candle in our window is the bell tower of St Francis de Sales.  Gail and I started our eight o’clock hour of prayer observance with the bell of St Francis.  We joined other Temple House homes on Arsenal, Wyoming and Jefferson (and in solidarity even far off in Chicago).  A candle in our window for one hour.

It was an hour of meditation and peace contrasting with gunfire and violence.  It is part of our witness.  And we believe that it also is a time of God at work in us and in our Benton Park West neighborhood.

Amen.

Last night we met on the back porch.  Jessica had warm chocolate chip cookies and a home-made pizza.  We talked, again, about the same thing we had discussed last week at Darren and Char’s place.  What to do about the shooting in our neighborhood.

Last week someone was shot to death in front of Darren and Char’s building.  It’s the first shooting death this year in our neighborhood.  But many gunshots have come before that one bullet.  At times we hear them as we lie in bed on an otherwise quiet night.  Or we happen to glimpse out the window just as someone falls, writhing in pain.

What do we do?

Last week we agreed.  Prayer.  And a candle in the window.  Last night, more logistics.  Today, Gail posted to Temple House Dwellers Facebook:

“Last night we decided to light a candle every Wednesday from 8:00 PM to 9:00 PM and pray for an end to violence in our neighborhood. We hear gun shots but acknowledge that there are other acts of violence as well. We want our neighborhood to be a welcoming place where hospitality is practiced. Shooting at each other is not welcoming or hospitable…(yes, I often state the obvious, can’t help myself). We know that there is more to do on this but we are going to start with the lighting of candles and ask God to help us hear and see what the next step will be. We still have not come up with a ‘slogan’ but feel it will come.”

One more thing we agreed will help us to pray for our neighborhood.

When we lie in bed on a quiet night or are out walking and hear ringing in the distance on the hour the church bell of St Francis de Sales Oratory we will pray.

So, here we go.

St Francis in the distance

  A little bit of lavender Betsy picked from Temple Gardens.

We said goodbye today at noon to John and Betsy who helped us move in this Labor Day weekend to Benton Park West.  Without them we couldn’t have done it.  Thanks, John and Betsy.

Several Temple House dwellers came over yesterday to welcome us with a meal.  Darren barbecued pork steaks and chicken.  We think he’s become kind of an expert at this.  Everyone pitched in and we had a great time of food and visiting.

 

Captain Mary Kim joined us for the evening. The Captain is identifying the table flowers from Temple Garden. Kamaria Gage finds something funny. Char Lopez finds something to ponder.

 
Why are we here on Arsenal Street?  Our convictions.  We have thought about this for some time, for decades.  But even with convictions and long considered thoughts there is uncertainty.  We fix our eyes on the will of God.  But out of the corner of the eye we catch a flit of movement.  There’s more there than what’s right in front of us.  I’ll write more.  Just not now.

Now?  Get settled in.  Get to know our neighbors better.   Listen and look.  And let our neighbors learn about us.

 

We pulled up into the Temple Corps parking lot at 3:07 PM today.  We crossed the street.  Sara greeted us at the gate and we walked along the side of the house, past Temple Gardens, opened the wooden gate.  We had arrived for Temple Houses’ Memorial Day BBQ.

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Darren had wheeled the new Weber from his place on Texas Street. Chicken legs and his own Buffalo wings recipe.  Hot dogs.  We all pitched in with salads, fresh fruit, spoonbread.  Plenty to eat.

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Alex and Alyson from Royal Oak MI were visiting this weekend, checking out Temple Houses.  John Stewart was back in town from Colorado to attend a conference; it was good to see him again.  And just about all of the regular TH community were able to come share table fellowship under the shade of the apple tree which has been miraculously restored to health.

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Gail wanted to show Kirsten the house we will soon move into. I needed to come along to open the key lock box.  We walked east a block to 2708 Arsenal.  It’s still under construction but now the shape of the apartment is clear.  Soon we will live on Arsenal Street.

Back under the apple tree it felt good.  Warm weather zephyrs.  Sitting with these young adults who we feel are beginning to form genuine community.  It’s not an immediate, sure thing.  Community cannot be commanded.  But we are beginning to experience it, to sense the connections and relationships, and even some understanding of life together in service to the world God so loves.  The label we choose to use is missional community.  Labels can’t be avoided.  We’ve avoided ‘incarnational ministry’.  We prefer community in mission, life together in service.

I began to feel drowsy.  I ate too much today.  Sitting together, sharing food.  We were pretty content.  Be content with what you have.  That was my earliest remembrance of a scripture recitation.   A Nathan’s hot dog.  Watermelon.  A dab of potato salad.  Together.

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Sometimes it’s Fritos.  Sometimes it’s Cheetos.  Doritos, always in third place.

This evening when I saw the photo of Kierra and John S. serving at a Salvation Army canteen counter, my eyes voted Cheetos.  Tonight I feel more cheesy than freezy.

Here’s the photo and a few words from the Urban Mission Center about a Ferguson experience last August for Temple House folks.  BTW, I do miss John S. who’s back in Colorado before his next urban adventure.  Dr. Who.UMC logo

If you haven’t seen yet here’s a set of photos from last Sunday’s graffiti at the KFC in Ferguson.

Last Sunday a small group of young adults was quietly at work in Ferguson MO.

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Several of our folks from Temple Houses in Benton Park West spent most of Sunday performing authorized graffiti at the boarded up Kentucky Fried Chicken.

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I like this creative framing of the drive-up window.  Is that Banksy inspired?

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Sir Gabriel, Elysia, Charlene and Cheryl.  They joined others in this creative window of opportunity.  To help turn anxiety into hope.

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Temple Houses is a missional community of young adults living in St Louis’ Benton Park West neighborhood.  They serve together as part of The Salvation Army’s Urban Mission Center.  Since August they have been serving in various ways in Ferguson.  Next month they will be learning at Urban Youth and The Leaders Who Love Them.  You are welcome to join them for this workshop at the Temple Corps, 2740 Arsenal Street, St Louis MO.

BTW, Gail and I are headed for a home on Arsenal Street.  We patiently sit with our packing boxes.  Hope sometime this spring to be in Temple Houses.  We are a little bit older than the TH community but they are making an exception for us.

Sunday morning in St Louis we rolled up to this sign.  It’s at the exit from eastbound I-64/US40 at Kingshighway.  It’s a place that often has a man or woman collecting.  This morning no one there.  Just a sign.

October 5 2014 (7)The light turned and we headed north to Euclid Corps, a Salvation Army neighborhood center in north St Louis.   We enjoyed our morning worship with the corps.

October 5 2014 (9)October 5 2014 (3)October 5 2014 (4)Sunday evening we were in south St Louis with the Temple House community.  Sara is leading us now in Don Miller’s Storyline.  In a few weeks I will lead a study of the Gospel of Luke.  Any day now a copy of Joel Green’s great little book on the theology of Luke should arrive.  It will be among material to guide us in seeing the gospel’s place for marginalized persons through Luke’s lens.  Our cities need Christians who also see those who are marginalized, on the fringes.  I hope our study helps us become more seeing in this way.

photo 3 (2)Cheryl, John S. and Elysia.

We also said our goodbyes to John S. who left St Louis this morning, returning to Colorado to be with his family.  For a time.  John’s a multi-talented person.  His plans are to be in the city.  Which city?  He’s yet to decide.  We will miss John S.  In his honor we all went over to the Texas Street house and in solidarity joined him to watch an episode of his favorite show:  Dr. Who.  Darren threw for the chips and guacamole.

John S. was with us a year, as a City Vision College student and intern.  He’s among two recent Temple Houses departures.  The other John left last month for Nashville.  John Aho (our son) has had the longest stay at Temple Houses.  Was the first.  Came alone.  Now there’s a flourishing community of young men and women living near the St Louis Temple Corps on Arsenal Street.

John A. with Kyle D.

John A. with Kyle D.

Temple Houses now has three openings.  Are you a young adult?  Looking for a missional community in the city?  Check out Temple Houses.

 

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Concentrated teamwork

This evening on Arsenal Street in St Louis we learned something about contending for our neighbors.

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We worked together in two teams to stack these red Solo cups into a pyramid using a rubber band stretched by five strands of ribbon. Not easy. But both teams succeeded!

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Melissa and Hunt, Major Gail, Elysia, John S. are pleased

We then discussed what lessons we learned about listening, submerging, inviting and contending. These are four of the six postures we have been working on from Thin Places by Jon Huckins and Rob Yackley. Thin Places is an approach of six postures for creating and practicing missional community.

We are still figuring out what took place. What we discovered about being a community which works together. Being in mission. Together.

We were in town today.  We attended Sunday meetings on both sides of the river.

This morning we were with our home corps in East St Louis IL.  Next door to the Salvation Army building on 16th Street is the Home of the Way-Bigga Burger.   next door to the corps bldg  November 2013

Lieutenant AJ Zachery leads our Sunday school.  The Lieutenant is holding a photo of a zebra.  Is it essentially black or white?  The lesson was on difficult questions and specifically on the question posed Jesus in Luke 20:29-39.  Our class is cross-generational meaning children and adults meet together.  It can be a challenge but we enjoy the class.  In the lower left corner you can see my bowl.  Frosted Flakes and fruit were offered today.  I had two bowls.

Tonight, I came with Gail to her meeting in St Louis with the Temple House young adults.  Gail leads this weekly Sunday evening group which is reading and discussing Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  It’s part of establishing community life as these young men and women prepare for the urban mission center in the Benton Park West neighborhood.  Tonight’s discussion about community dealt with the contrast between the ideal and the divine reality.

So, that was our day.

AJ Zachery leading S school  November 2013

 

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