The Week That Was - 01.21.19


We instinctively know that love leads to commitment, so we look away when we see a beggar. We might have to play if we look to closely and care too deeply. Loving means losing control of our schedule, our money, and our time. When we love we case to be the master and become a servant
— Paul E Miller, Love Walked Among Us

We are reading this book as a family and this quote is meaningful on so many levels. As a husband, father, organizer, activist and chaplain, I can’t lose sight of what it means to love. Love looks like giving careful attention to my wife as she describes her long day with pre-schoolers, it means looking at my daughters while they show me for the 10th time, the dance they have been working on together, it takes slowing down to make room for unplanned conversations that in my mind might be taking too long or taking me away from '“my” plans.

This section fuels part of our new family liturgy as we pray that God’s kingdom comes as we listen more.

Those at the bottom rung of any society often function as canaries in a mineshaft [coal mine canaries warning of gases in the mines] - barometers measuring whether the system [or society, community] is safe
— Marshall Ganz quoted in Faith Rooted Organizing

This section, part of a much larger section that I could have quoted, is a reminder that in God’s economy, community and growth are measured in how we treat and serve the marginalized, the outcasts, the outsiders among us. It is this assessment that helps us discern how outward facing, how others oriented, how servant minded we are, which are some of the prime foundations of a community of faith.


The week started with a meeting at the mayor’s office with faith leaders learning more about the timeline and plan related to the mayoral control of public schools in NYC set to expire June 30th. The room was filled with faith leaders from around the city working on the ground in communities providing after school programming, parental support and advocacy and mentoring. It was such an encouragement to hear of their active work while also hearing about their struggles and concerns as they labor in difficult situations and contexts. It was also an opportunity to push back on the mayor’s office to make sure that the advances that have happened with Pre-K for all, community schools and diversity plans are not rolled back when the current mayor leaves at the end of his term. This is part of my work, in both being informed about issues facing our city, and then working to hold elected officials and organizations accountable.

Being in the spaces and places that I am, I often get asked for a meal or a coffee and as people ask about ways to support those facing eviction, homelessness, unemployment, among other things. This week I had a great time catching up with a friend wants to better serve and support a homeless man he has befriended. He is also part of a small group at a church and the group is thinking about ways they can be involved in service to their community more effectively. Want to know what I told him? Let’s talk

As I work towards establishing a community space for youth mentoring, job placement, pantry and food cares services, care for justice workers and community conversations, I have been trying to listen to and learn from other organizations that have built and established something like this and/or who have the same vision. Last week I got to spend the day with Michael Reed, [who oddly enough was a teen in a youth ministry I helped lead in another life] who is helping shape and start The Makers Place in Trenton New Jersey. It was such a great time traveling the neighborhood talking about asset based community development, [the foundation for much of what I do] the local church and working in difficult spaces.

The week finished with an opportunity to hear from Teens Take Charge [pictured above] at a local public school about equity and diversity in public schools and then a guided tour of Soul of a Nation at Brooklyn Museum, learning more about the history and stories of the artists who make up this powerful exhibit


Until Next Week