I am entering into one of the most exciting seasons of my life. God has allowed me to see and do so much over the past six years but I feel certain that it has all been preparation for what is yet to come.
In September, Embrace Richmond transferred the Furniture Bank element of our organization to CARITAS and CARITAS hired me as the director of the program. For the past eight months, I have worn two hats; Executive Director of Embrace Richmond (www.embracerichmond.org) and Director of CARITAS Works (www.caritasworks.org). In that time the furniture bank program has grown significantly and so have the programs operated by Embrace Richmond. I realized last month that I could do both jobs half way or put all my energy into one direction. After much prayer I felt led to slowly move out of the CARITAS Works role and focus solely on Embrace Richmond. I am now down to 12 hours a week working on CARITAS related programs and I have taken considerable time off in the past month to ask “What’s next?” for Embrace Richmond. This transition would not be possible without the addition of Karen O’Brien to our staff and the support of Karen Stanley the Executive Director of CARITAS both of whom have been incredibly supportive of me over the years.
In December 2003, I was faced with a similar decision as I wrestled with my call to vocational ministry. At that time I began writing “The Journey” which was originally sent out to a few close friends who committed to pray for me. As that list grew, I put the emails on a website and they are now available through “The Journey” page of this blog. Basically, The Journey writings helped me to discern what was next for me. As God revealed new pieces of the puzzle; I wrote about it as a way of publicly recognizing where I saw God at work and as a way of remembering. These pieces were the building blocks for what eventually became Quest Women’s Ministry and Shine Groups for Girls which eventually led to the creation of Embrace Richmond. As Embrace Richmond moves into a new season; I feel called to do the same thing; look for God at work, figure out how it relates to my call and Embrace Richmond’s mission and share those insights with others. Those of you who know me personally know that I am full of ideas and as an extrovert; I feel the need to communicate as a way of fleshing out all these thoughts. However, I do not want to frighten anyone…I know Embrace cannot respond to every need or fulfill every dream or idea that pops into my head. So relax and just dream with me a little.
For those of you who are joining me on facebook; I will be posting the entries on my facebook page as I write them. If you are not yet my friend yet, please “friend me” and join me on this adventure.
This past week I attended the Emergent Conference which is the largest church planting conference in the country. I went thinking I was going to help my friends Lewis and Doug who are both church planters but something happened at this conference…my mind was expanded. I think my idea of “church” was way too small. As I sat in the conference listening to some of the most innovative Christian leaders in the world; I began to get excited about what God was doing. God has started a movement across this country; a missional movement much like the one identified by Eric Swanson in his book Ten Paradigm Shifts Toward Community Transformation which I wrote about in The Journey emails back in 2004. (You can download this paper for free from www.leadnet.org) This idea is what gave birth to Embrace Richmond and is still the vision that I long to see manifest in Richmond.
I still do not feel church planting is my call…but fueling a missional movement; that gets me excited!
What is a missional movement? I will attempt to share what I think it is in my next post . In the meantime you can catch a glimps of it in Eric Swanson’s paper or through The Journey entries. Please pray for me and for the Embrace family as we move into the fullness of what God has for us.