Five weeks ago I was invited to lead Sonoma Valley Church of the Nazarene. As I prayed and sought guidance as to how this church fit into God’s larger plan for the community I considered several factors. First, where is God already afoot? Where is the Holy Spirit already at work? What resources, gifts and graces could we bring to the table? These questions were important because we understand our self to be One Holy Church, not one among many. We also understand that Shalom is so much bigger than the common understanding of peace. It is God’s central vision of the world. It’s the Kingdom, a unified community living together where justice and righteousness are displayed. Shalom includes a well being that is physical, social, and economic here and now.
So we began with a little appreciative inquiry. I began to meet with other clergy, I asked about what God was doing in their ministry context, I considered other ministries already in place, I looked over our facilities in order to see logistically how we might reach beyond our self and I believe we may have found a place to begin.
Having just survived the Camp fire in Paradise and serving with East Ave Church in Chico, California in the care for the displaced; providing physical, medical and spiritual care for those traumatized by the horror of the event, those separated from loved ones, those who’ve lost homes and everything they had. I knew we were in no place to take on this type of endeavor.
Where I do see a possibility is in partnering with a group in Sonoma County that is focused on providing counseling to First Responders and their families. These men and women are confronted with a large array of mental, physical and emotional stress that uncared for can be devastating. I am in the hope that as we work together Sonoma Valley can be a support to these services in two ways: First, in assisting with child care during counseling sessions and second through our 12-step Christ centered ministry for those struggling with substance abuse and other trauma, hurts, habits or hang ups.
Stay tuned for more as the week’s progress!