Friday, June 27, 2008

making a statement

several weeks ago missiongathering hosted the church basement roadshow. that tour is partially sponsored by compassion international. members of our church sponsored several children, and we took a special offering to donate to compassion in lieu of our normal offering. here is the bulk of a letter i just finished on behalf of our church that we will be sending with the donation:

One of the couples that are a key part of our leadership at the church sponsored a child and brought something to our attention. While going through the materials about what they are and are not allowed to send to their child, they read this section: “In addition, we will not forward materials depicting persons dressed in immodest clothing or engaging in activities inconsistent with our ministry values and beliefs, including the living out of a homosexual lifestyle.” This section specifically was brought to our attention, as our church is an open and affirming church with several homosexual men and women in key and active roles in our community. While I understand the reality of other cultures where Compassion is working, this policy and perspective on a group of people is very disappointing to hear about an organization I have supported for years.

The message of Jesus is one of grace and inclusion, not judgment and exclusion. Jesus reached out to the marginalized and oppressed, the tired and hungry, the poor and the needy, and the shunned and outcast alike. The gay and lesbian community has been for so long condemned and ostracized by the church, and even those that have found a connection with their faith again (or for the first time) are very sensitive to language of exclusion. Are you suggesting that homosexuals are not or cannot be Christians? Missiongathering believes in the Grace and Love of Christ, and we seek to extend that to all people. Could the language of your materials take more into consideration the cultures to which sponsors are writing instead of imposing a set of beliefs on someone who might believe in the cause of social justice? Beyond the gay and lesbian community, even those in our church who aren’t gay but have been marginalized or hurt by the church are sensitive to the reality of exclusive language instead sharing the reality of the Grace of God for all people.

I don’t expect one letter from a small church to change the opinion of a large, international organization. I don’t expect the story and heart of one group of believers to affect the beliefs and doctrine of the executive leadership. I wrote this letter with a sense of hope. My hope is this: that Compassion International as an organization will open its eyes to the reality of those still marginalized by the people of God even as it endeavors to help the needy and oppressed in the name of God. We as a church are firm believers in speaking for the orphans, the widows, and the helpless. Missiongathering does so in many ways including supporting Invisible Children and through our own Street Angels Ministry, which is an outreach to homeless teenagers in San Diego. We also believe firmly in the truth that God’s Grace extends to all people, and we stand up for that message in every arena possible.

i believe in the work that compassion is doing, i was just struck by the wording of the statement. as the leadership of the church discussed this, we decided to still send the money as a matter of integrity, but to also voice our beliefs and understanding of the gospel of grace of Jesus. we must continue to stand for the truth as people of grace. it's not always easy to find the ways to do that, but we start where we can with what we know and what we do. ~aroll

Monday, June 16, 2008

the good ole' days

i can't believe at the ripe old age of 28 i am already saying things like this, but my how times have changed. on wednesday of last week, i filled up my gas tank to head up to los angeles for a couple of days to help some friends with an event. i had not filled up my tank in several weeks. it cost $75 to fill my tank!! my heart skipped a beat, i think, as the numbers just kept going up until the pump finally clicked off. on my way home tonight, i stopped to get some gas and paid $4.59 per gallon. back when i was a kid and first started driving at the age of 16, i paid $.76 a gallon. at one of the intersections near my school, there were 3 gas stations - 7-11, conoco, and phillips 66. they were constantly having price wars which made that corner the cheapest gas in all of oklahoma city. it was my sophomore or junior year in college before gas prices went over $1.00.

i am just grateful that i don't have to drive very far these days. my two farthest drives are to work and to the turf club. it's one of the great advantages of now living in a more urban area, and in proximity to so many things. next step is getting my bike fixed so i can start riding to more places...maybe even to work!! ~aroll

Thursday, June 5, 2008

the merging of story, art, and clothing

i just got back from a meeting with my friend kevin murray at jedidiah about our street angels ministry that is a part of our outreach at missiongathering. in that meeting, kevin was updating us on what's new with jedidiah and told me about a cool new community they are building online. each month they ask a question and have people submit stories around that question. the staff then picks three of the best stories and creates artwork for a t-shirt around those stories. they will then post the artwork for the community to vote on. the winning shirt will be added to the jedidiah collection that will be sold in stores and online. how cool is that? letting art imitate life, letting art tell story, and celebrate the stories of a community. check it out here. ~aroll

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


so after months of being in the "emerging star" program (management training) at west elm and weeks of going back and forth regarding when it was going to happen, i f was promoted today to coordinator! it's still an hourly position, but i will at long last be getting paid better for and have the authority to do the manager functions i've already been doing for months. i'm not an assistant manager yet, but at least it's a step in the right direction. i'll have a store key to open and close the store by myself and everything...after hours at the store!! ok, not really, but i've thought about throwing a hell of a party in the store. watch out, corporate, here i come! ~aroll