SEP 7 2006 _ a group of five ELCA churches (calling themselves the emergent Mission Prayer Team or eMPT) began meeting to pray about what they could do to engage ‘missing generations’ who were scarce within their congregations. They had tried many things in the past, but were now convinced that the Spirit of God was calling them to find leaders who were indigenous to these ‘missing generations’ and benevolently support them in a new mission without expecting any measurable benefit to their own churches. They invited Ryan Marsh, who was currently working at Church of the Apostles, to consult and pray with them. The longer he prayed with them the more he wondered, “Is it me, God?” After a process of discernment, everyone agreed – Ryan was going to move back to his home town of Edmonds to help nurture a new community of faith grown from the ground up. He started by gathering a core group of dreamers already living in and around that neighborhood. Each of the fourteen had similar stories of growing up in the church, becoming disenchanted and inactive in the church, but still very active in faith and hope for the church. They met on thursday nights to share a meal, stories, fears and hopes for starting a community of faith, realizing along the way that they were already were church… an imperfect, fumbling into God’s grace, Church. Then, on Ash Wednesday 2007, they let the closed core group die in order to give birth to an open community called Church of the Beloved.
We try to keep one ear to the ground and one ear to the wind – listening for the passions that the Spirit is drawing out of our community, listening for the deep needs of our neighborhood around us, and discerning how the two might be connected. For our context this means discovering how to better care for the spiritual formation of children and new families and continuing to find common ground with the emerging spirituality of our neighbors so we might be able to say in the context of relationship, “The Love of God has a name – Jesus.” We want to give children a place in all that we do and give special attention to these little ones.