Week of March 21-26, 2021.
In 1997, Craig and I relocated from the Philippines to England so that Craig could start his PhD. We moved into #7 Aubrey Road, a little row house in a densely packed working class neighbourhood in South Bristol. Wanting to be part of the local community, we began to attend the small Anglican church right across the street. We showed up weekly, eager to build community, eager to serve.
In leaving Manila, I had said goodbye to a fulfilling position as the associate pastor of the Union Church of Manila, a 2,500 person multinational, intergenerational church where I easily feasted on meaningful labour and friendships. Arriving in Bristol, I found myself unemployed for the first time since I was 16, and without a work visa. I was also friendless, poor, and bored.
After attending the Anglican church for a few months, I noticed that the youth didn’t have a youth group. I had been involved in leading youth groups in every church I’d been in since I was 21. Surely this was something I could do! I approached the vicar and told him I’d be happy to help out. I’d do it for free. He said, “No. There was no need.” I remember being so puzzled. I knew he didn’t like Americans, he had told me so in no uncertain terms. Was that it? Was it because I wasn’t Anglican? Was it because I hadn’t been there long enough to earn his trust? I had so little in my life that gave me purpose. I would have so happily done anything for that little church. Yet even after a year of attending the church, I was still held at arm’s length by the vicar. I still remember that uncomfortable feeling of being “othered”: being once again a new person in a new country with a new set of social norms, trying to interpret the meaning of the world around me.
At the same time, in that little house, we lived next door to an older couple named Alex and Dora. They were in their 80’s. The day we came to look at the house, Alex leaned over the fence and, in his thick Bristolian accent, offered me a tayberry from his tayberry bush. We instantly bonded over the miracle of a sweet, melt-in-your mouth berry. After we moved in, the four of us became fast friends. We swapped stories over cups of tea.
We jointly took out a large allotment in a community garden together and grew mounds of vegetables, most of which we gave away. When Dora passed away, we did her funeral. Alex gave me her ruby ring. We loved them like family. I remember that miraculous feeling of belonging, that mysterious surprise of finding people in a new country with a new set of social norms, who despite all our differences, felt like home.
Looking back at this time in my life I am surprised at how small gestures shaped both my experience of exclusion and inclusion. In one setting lidded eyes, sparse words, subtle body movements, and the withholding of invitation to collaborate communicated, “You are not one of us.” In the one setting, open eyes, smiling faces, outstretched hands, and an invitation to partnership communicated, “You belong with us.” My body knew welcome and my body knew rejection, even when my mind couldn’t pinpoint why.
When have you included? When have you excluded? When have you been included? When have you been excluded? If you live long enough, hopefully, you will feel both of these realities.The sting of exclusion and the warmth of inclusion. Both are powerful teachers.
This past week Nadia preached and invited us to think about these three questions. I leave them with you to deepen your own pondering around inclusion:
1. When was the last time one of your core values or beliefs were challenged? How did you react/feel?
2. Can you remember a time where you felt “other-ed” in a situation? What happened, how did you feel/react and what could have been done in that situation to make you feel welcomed?
3. Nadia talked about the 3 movements of Peter in Acts 10. Reflect on an issue that is pressing to you right now, and gauge where or which movement you are in and how you might continue to learn and grow as Peter did.
March 24, Storytelling:
Journeys of Personal Healing – Stacey Chomiak
OPEN event – please feel free to invite people to join.
Inquiry: What is it like to accept ourselves and one another as fully clean, beloved by God?
Stacey Chomiak is an animation artist currently on a DreamWorks production at Doberman Pictures; YA Author & illustrator “Still Stace: My Gay Christian Coming of Age Story” coming out in 2021.
Next week is the last evening in this series!
March 31, Movie & Discussion:
Between a Shoe and the Roof
Zoom Sunday service at 10:00 am.
You may like to have a candle at hand to light during the service, and the elements of Communion ready for that portion of our worship.
March 28 Christie Goode
The Cleared Path: When Tension Eases into Spaciousness
Rev 7: 9-10 and 22: 17
April 4 Anne Smith
Easter Sunday (Zoom Church)
Lent At Home
The prayers can be incorporated wherever you can carve out a window in your day to turn your attention towards the well of God’s love.
Youth, in March
Tue. 23 Order of the Phoenix
Zoom at 6:00 pm
Fri. 26 Roots
Zoom at 7:30 pm
Financial Update, 2021
Because our 2021 budget has a small margin, at our AGM we committed to good communication and regular updates regarding our financial situation. Here is the first budget update of the year.
The monthly donations needed to meet our budgeted expenses is $9,650.
January donations: $7,926.00
under budget by $1,724
February donations: $8,638.64
under budget by $1,011.35
Thank you for your continued support and prayers as we trust God to provide for the needs of our community.
Wednesdays at Noon, by Zoom
If you would like to join in, please contact Anne (778-878-4352, email).
If you have a confidential prayer need, please contact John Hardy (email).
If you’re needing to talk or to pray, please contact Anne (778-878-4352, email).
Thank you for considering your giving while we are not meeting in person. Possible means of giving include:
Pre-authorized debit (monthly or one-time) with our linked form. Cost to Southpoint is $0.50.
Paypal to the The Church at Southpoint. Cost is 3% of the donation. No Paypal account is required, only a credit card.
Charitable Impact Foundation.
Cost is 2.8% of the donation.