Echoes is still a small group of people. At times the small number makes me wonder if this experiment is going well at all. I love those who come, I love what we do, and yet...is it a vision that others want to get on board with?
Recently, two unsolicited Facebook posts from Echoites have helped to put things in perspective (yet again). It seems worthwhile to repost them here, so others can see what those on the inside are saying about Echoes.
"Hey, friends! Is anyone looking for a spiritual community in Bellingham but doesn't feel at home in a traditional church? Or perhaps fed up with church, faith, religion (or its followers!) in general? If so, I encourage you to come check out Echoes with me. We are an experimental church here in Bellingham, so we "do church" a little differently. Which is also one of the many reasons why I love it. We love Jesus, and we love you. No joke."
I love the addition of "no joke" at the end. Here's another one:
Hey team - I have recently had a long conversation about the queer proclivity to develop and nurture alternative families...Is it possible to build loving family when we are not always on the same page, speaking the same language, celebrating the same things?
For this reason I almost didn't go to Echoes, and at first I almost didn't stay. I wanted church to look and feel exactly like me; I wanted God to feel and speak exactly like me. And obviously, thankfully, interestingly, he speaks like the twenty-odd other people in the room plus me, and also sounds like the quiet voice that whispers between all of us. It is an entirely new space, energetically and socially speaking. Because we're not some kind of discussion group; we're a life group, here for the purpose of worshipping God in socially responsible and sustainable ways.
Echoes surprises me every week. I'm surprised by how invited I have been to take up some space and to share my perspective. I've been offered support on many levels, including leadership opportunities. It is very cooperative, very accessible (though this is from my perspective and abilities), very kind, very honest. Here we have love of many forms - and respect, and care, and shelter, and affection. We use worship as a platform for all our activities, and are focused on manifesting radical hospitality (not just being polite to everyone, but genuinely and sustainably affirming and making room for and sharing life with all people). We are thoughtful, and have difficult conversations regularly about who we are, where we're headed, what we seek, what social justice means, what church on Indigenous land means. We are young (well, all young at heart) and alive and hungry for God. And I keep saying we because I've found myself in another family. A new type of family made out of curiosity and celebration and risky trust in this bright blessed fellow, Jesus.
Believe me. I'm anxious about evangelism. So please don't take this as a shout to change or convert or anything. But I think you should know that I've found a group of people that are building family, and that are loving God, in ways that feel simtaneously like both homes I've come from. A little queer, a little not. And honest about it: and genuinely so damn loving and relational it has blown me away. And that is rad, and it's where I want to be. If you are interested in coming with me some time, whether it be to a work day/volunteer outing or music worship night or potluck and conversation, hit me up. No pressure to Be Something or only come when you're Feelin Religious; some of us are Pagan, some of us have Buddhist roots, some of us are pastors, and we get along great, and somewhere in this deconstructed worship, awesome awesome things are happening. Thank God.
The honesty of the above post lets me know that, yeah, this little group has a vision worth committing to and investing in - even with doubts and fears. How fortunate we are to have Bellingham as a place to live, and a wide community to serve.
Speaking of, this Saturday we are helping to give some love to Whatcom Creek, led by B'ham Parks and Rec. Feel free to lend a hand, regardless if you get to meet any of us Echoites. We keep meeting, because we keep wanting to develop a new kind of church - a little queer, a little not.