Monthly Archives: June 2010

Richmond Book Examiner – Review of From the Sanctuary to the Streets

Richmond Books Examiner, Margaret Oleksa, just posted a review of my book From the Sanctuary to the Streets on the website.
Here is a small portion of the review:
“The beauty of the From the Sanctuary to the Streets story is not a one-directional mission of rich giving to the poor. The real story is how, through mission, the people in this book were given the opportunity to get to know homeless individuals, and ones transitioning out of shelters. They learned about the real issues so many face, and how their intense faith and strong character made the volunteers the students, and the shelter residents the teachers. By working together and learning from each other, the end result is so powerful, the message is nothing short of inspiring.

Wendy McCaig gives a vision of hope and shows how individual dreams can become a reality to make a positive difference. The work of the Christian Community can be found outside the walls of the traditional church. Do not read From the Sanctuary to the Streets if you want to stay glued to your chair; only read it if you want to be inspired to take action.”  Read the entire review here

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Religionless Christianity: Finding God Outside the Institutional Church

Recently a friend of mine shared concern over the fact that her children, who are in their forties, love Christ and live by Christian principals but have little interest in being a part of the institutional church.

I read this quote this week over at Emerging Mummy which speaks to why some Christians have left the church,

As we all know, this is the world 2.0, meaning that it is interactive and we are the people formerly known as the audience, viewing our individual voices and stories as equal and valuable.  Also, as Bill Kinnon said, we are also the people formerly known as the congregation:

“We are The People formerly known as The Congregation. We have not stopped loving the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Nor do we avoid “the assembling of the saints.” We just don’t assemble under your supposed leadership. We meet in coffee shops, around dinner tables, in the parks and on the streets. We connect virtually across space and time – engaged in generative conversations – teaching and being taught.

We live amongst our neighbors, in their homes and they in ours. We laugh and cry and really live – without the need to have you teach us how. – by reading your ridiculous books or listening to your supercilious CDs or podcasts.”

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Filed under missional church, Theology, Top Post's of All Time, Urban Ministry

Trudy’s Tears

Recently my friend Yolanda texted me these words “I am reading your book and your heart is so big I am able to feel what you were feeling in Chapter 5 and I am just balling!”  Well I hope as you read this post, you feel not only my pain but those of my friend Trudy. However, Trudy does not need your tears, she needs your help.

Trudy has been a part of our Embrace Fairfield team for over six months.  Trudy never finished high school and grew up in a rough neighborhood.  She is street smart and tough as nails.  She stood out to me because she has a mischievous nature. She can look at you with an absolutely stone cold expression and tell you that you messed up in some way and convince you that you did what she said you did.  Then burst out laughing when she gets a reaction out of you.  The first time she did that to me, I thought she was angry with me.  I started apologizing for whatever it was she said I did even though I did not remember doing it.  Her smile and that twinkle in her eye brought me such joy and relief.

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Filed under Leadership, Stories from the Street, Urban Ministry

A Search for Kingdom Churches

Every day I drive past church parking lots and admire the church buses and vans that sit collecting dust while we attempt to address the transportation crisis in our city. Across this city, congregations gather for meals that resemble a feast as I watch my urban friends scrap together a meager meal so that they can enjoy the same kind of table fellowship.  I read church bulletins about the upcoming missions trips and the thousands of dollars being raised to help send members to the other side of the world for a one week experience while our local urban missionaries fail to find the support and encouragement they need to transform our own backyard.  We currently have four desks crammed into one office and two team members per desk while many inner city churches sit empty all week.  I get letters from churches asking for funds to support their next mega-building campaign while I watch families become homeless because they do not have the $200 they need to maintain their housing.  When we approach churches about using what should be God’s resources to advance God’s Kingdom or care for God’s children, we hear the following:

“We can’t use our van to help you take inner city kids to the park because of “liability” issues.”

“We can’t host your fellowship event because our people are just too busy.”

“Members of our church really like going away to foreign countries to do missions.”

“Our policy is to only use our building for “church-sponsored” activities.”

“We only provide financial support for “members” who are in crisis.”

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Filed under missional church, Stories from the Street, Top Post's of All Time, Urban Ministry

Book Signing Monday at Boaz and Ruth Juneteenth Celebration

Monday night I will be doing a book signing as a part of the Boaz and Ruth Juneteenth celebration.  I would love for everyone to come out and celebrate Juneteenth with us and our friends from Boaz and Ruth or just stop by if you want to purchase a copy of  my book From the Sanctuary to the Streets which features insights from Martha Rollins the founder and Executive Director of Boaz and Ruth.  I hope to see you all there!  See details below:

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Meet the Family – Our first book signing turned family reunion

My first book signing for my book From the Sanctuary to the Streets hosted by Becky Qualls and Colleen Robinson was a huge success with more than 40 people attending.  Many of the “characters/co-authors” from the book were also on hand to autograph their respective chapters.  They are in the photo from left to right (Rosalind, Autumn, Sharon, Karen O, Yolanda, Becky, me, Lakisha, Tammy, Charles and Aileen).

As I looked around the room, I was blown away by how God had knit us all together.  Soccer moms who are now ministering in the inner city were standing next to ex-offenders who now share their testimonies in the suburbs churches.  Business owners were sharing a meal with former crack addicts as suburban housewives swapped stories with formerly homeless single mothers.  It was one of the most joy-filled experiences of my life.

One of the things I wish I would have done in the book is included photographs of many “character/co-authors.”  My lovely daughter Caitlin took these pictures last night of her extended family.  I hope those of you who are reading the book are blessed to put a face with some of the “characters”.  These individuals have truly become my family.  Many have been a part of my life for more than 8 years and they are all my sisters and brothers in this very colorful family that only God could have birthed. I am honored that they all trusted me with their stories.

Rosalind and her daughter Autumn - Chapter 12,14

Aileen Owens - Chapter 2

Charles Fitzgerald - Chapter 15

LaKisha and the boys - Chapter 13

Tammy McClure - Chapter 17

Sharon Drescher - Chapter 9


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Honored to be a Sermon Illustration

Growing up outside the church, I never would have imagined that one day, a pastor would use my story as a sermon illustration.  However, I was honored when Rev. Dixie Brachlow, the Associate Pastor of Fairfield Presbyterian Church asked if she could quote a portion of my post “Healing the Wounds of the Bible Belt” in her sermon this past Sunday titled, The Extravagant Gardner. I love the way in which she tied my story to Jesus parable about seeds in Matthew 13:1-23.  Below is an excerpt from Rev. Brachlow’s sermon which she has graciously allowed me to share with you:

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Filed under Theology

Still Making Me Laugh After All These Years!

It was the summer of 1981 in a small town in Central Texas. I was a rising freshman at Lampasas High School and finally allowed to hang out at Storms Drive In with the High School crowd. I cringe at the thought of letting my daughters do the crazy things my parents let me get away with, but it was a whole different world back then.  I was obsessed with The Police album “Ghost in the Machine” and was finally able to go “riding around.” “Riding around” was the only form of entertainment in Lampasas.  Basically you would hop in the car with an upper classman, who was likely drinking and driving, and make loops through the very small town waiving at friends or stopping to chat if a cluster formed at one of the hot spots.  My friend Beth Taylor had been dating this guy Roger Boone for months. Rodger was a rising senior, which meant he could drive, and this made Beth extra cool.

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Filed under Book Related, Personal Reflection

Sunshine Post #1: Early Bird Reader Comments

I was reading a post over at Chip McGregor’s website titled Overcoming Doubt.  I was relieved to learn that I am not the only writer who has doubts about this whole writing venture.  Chip gives advice to writers in how to overcome doubt and one of his suggestions was to create what he calls “My Sunshine File.”  Here is an excerpt:

My “Sunshine” file. Yeah, it’s true. I keep a file of emails people have sent to me that basically say, “You helped me” or “Thanks for being wise.” For years I kept a file folder of cards and letters people had sent, just to perk me up. I might be a total putz TODAY, but I can always look back and remember, “Hey…you were BETTER THAN A PUTZ that time!”

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A Reconciling Experience:Asking Hard Questions

Earlier this week I participated in a conversation on Reconciliation.  A longtime African American resident of Richmond who lived through the era of desegregation was in my discussion group and asked some really great questions.  “What do we mean by reconciliation?  What is the goal and how do we know when we have reached it?”  This gentleman spends a lot of time in impoverished African American communities who have been damaged by attempts to “reconcile” and he approached the subject with what appeared to me to be hostility toward the idea of reconciliation or what he perceived as reconciliation. Another member of the group helped me understand the anger I was sensing.  He shared that he had interviewed educators with 30-40 years experience teaching in the black community and asked them “Did desegregation help or hurt black communities?”  The overwhelming response was “It was harmful to the community.”  Another participant in our group shared how as a little girl, the message she received was that she had to give up her community and her school in order to live in the “white man’s” world.  For her the word “reconciliation” was synonymous with “loss and sacrifice.”

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Filed under Stories from the Street, Urban Ministry