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Sunday, August 25, 2013

fictious group planning

The name? Beloved Community Faith Group & Beloved Community of Faith are the current top contenders in my head right now. Other ideas have been Community of Hope-- the day after being inspired with "beloved" I noticed we have a Communities of Hope Church in Jackson; don't rly want to be confused for them. Community of Faith-- okay... Hesitant to be "of faith" 'cause I want so many ppl to feel welcomed in this group and some people may not be "in faith" yet. Also, sounds very generic. At the same time, I want the type of grp to be somewhat obvious in the name. Beloved Community Spirit Group? Beloved Community Spiritual Group? I think of it as a spiritual journey, a faith walk. Beloved because all are welcomed, all are loved. God does not choose and exclude, only mankind. I've also thought about something along the lines of Spirit Quest to honor the idea of the journey and coming from a place of spiritual thirst for me.

Of bigger issue, imo, is the description. I don't know what phrase to use to tell people what this group is. "Bible Study" is not fitting. But jotting down key words while at the doctor's last week, an appropriate statement to put on the meetup page's description began to form. Working with that idea:

[Group name] seeks to be a diverse, spiritual community composed of people of various races, genders, sexual orientations, educational levels, financial statuses, and physical abilities. Our desire is to support one another in our individual spiritual journeys. We seek to grow together through spiritually enriching activities such as book readings, Bible studies, devotionals, conversations about social and economic justice, discussions examining how everyday choices are a reflection of our faith decisions, and through service opportunities. [Group name] is a group of loving individuals that welcomes everyone to show up where they are, recognizing that the second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:39).

[Group name] questions, "where does faith intersect with real life responsibility?" Conversation pieces may question:
To what extent, as a person of faith, am I responsible for "giving back to my community"?
Does faith imply that we are to be politically active or politically absent?
To Spotify or not?
Purchase or pirate? Download or go to the store?
Do I have a responsibility to buy or drink fair trade coffee?
Am I responsible for taking care of the environment?
Should my faith influence where I shop or what products I buy?
What does God really ask of me & when is enough finally enough?!

I'd especially like some feedback on the first paragraph.  Feel free to share your thoughts on the description thus far-- positive, negative, what stands out to you?

Location, location, location? Where shall this group meet? I think frequency should be determined by the group-- weekly or biweekly? One concern I have on location is cost. I don't think it'd be outrageous to collect money to help with room fees or meetup fees as is where this group will begin. I also don't want to pay $50 per meeting to sit somewhere. There are free locations-- coffee shops, restaurants-- but those places lack privacy and I want everyone to be comfortable to share and discuss. I wonder what community centers Jackson has... An Internet search suggests that Westwood Rec, Northside Lions Community Center, and T.R. White Sportsplex are the only ones with meeting space. Some places to call and inquire about availability include:
1. Westwood Rec Center   Their website says meeting space is free to non-profits. Lord knows I'm not trying to make money from this group but I'm also not trying to file for a 501c3. I'll call to see what they'll charge for this.
2. University of Memphis, Lambuth surely has meeting space. Might cost more than the Rec Center though.
        * Wow! I think I just discovered they have a free planetarium:
3. The Lift is our new, fancy gym. I suspect their meeting space reservation is pricy. Or maybe I was thinking of the Jackson Walk in general instead of the Lift Center specifically. Either way, looking at their website I don't think it'd be a good fit.
4. Northside Lions Community Center. "spaces for rent" (731) 425-8386
5. Library (free! :))

Last night at the Jackson Social Meetup, I met a lady that is very interested in helping to get this group going... maybe. I told her I planned to write out some ideas today and would e-mail them to her. We'll see how that goes. She is my inspiration for adding "Service opportunities" to the statement.


  1. Gathering of Seekers:

    If you remove "group" from the name that might help. Because I have followed your search, if seems clear that you are looking for a bible based/christian format/style/following, in which case I do not think all are welcome. It's one thing to be excited by spirited discussion and another to be dogma thumped repeatedly about the face and neck.

    So, spiritual or religious? My spiritual connection urges/encourages/forges my movement in life, but my religion dictates and demands that I make concessions with obedience.

    A meeting space could be in the park, on the trail, at the local outdoor cafe. In the beginning, people will be just getting to know each other and if self-disclosure is that intense up front, well, now you know...

    Have you visited these folks?

    Hugs and love...


  2. I have gone to church of the river. I like to go in the summer when they have guest speakers but forget about that until summer is over :o. Thanks for the reminder. Cindi's church in Nashville has been my favorite Unitarian experience thus far, after visiting 4 or 5 congregations. I've also gone to Unity Churches (New Thought).

    Interesting thought to share. I disagree with the dogma comment as it's either the wrong group for the person trying to impose dogma or it's become the wrong group for me if that's the point. However, I am hearing that having "Bible study" in the description and quoting Matthew aren't enough for someone that doesn't know me to realize this group will be a Christian leaning group. I envision this space as a safe place for agnostics, people rewriting their view of Christianity, people that don't identify as Christian but somehow live their life with the acknowledgement of Christian thought, Unitarian Universalists, Christians, and whoever else will. If someone's faith is a blend of Christianity and Buddhism, bring it. It's not to be a space to condemn differences. It's also not being designed for people that have ruled out Christianity as their faith and taken more of an anti-Christian standpoint. Everyone is welcome "to show up where they are" as long as they respect where others are as well. The group is about discussion, not dogma, but yes the anticipation is Christian-leaning.

    Spiritual, not religious by your definitions.

    I like the idea of outside meetings but don't think weather is well-suited for that year round. I was thinking of starting with a book as an easier medium to get us started during the getting to know one another phase. The intensity of the book would hopefully be low to medium due to that initial stage. But hey, if it's intense up front, now you know :).

    Thanks for the feedback. I do believe that all are welcome but wonder if you have another idea on how to better paint the Christian leaning picture without sounding like this group is about dogma. The vision is a place to grow and be honest, believe and have doubts, wrestle but walk away feeling loved. Namaste.

  3. Would removing "Our desire is to support one another in our individual spiritual journeys" help with the ambiguity?

  4. No, don't remove that part. I think support and acceptance is what make a group attractive.

    Have you considered C S Lewis The Chronicles of Narnia? Christian, low intensity, interesting symbology (or blatant religious ideology). Easy read, fun storyline, and characters you follow through the volumes. Or The Prayer of Jabez? I haven't kept up with popular Christian reading, but have read both of these.

    "Let the beauty you love be what you do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground." - Rumi

  5. Thanks for your response! I didn't get the notice. I've considered C.S. Lewis but not Narnia specifically. I have Prayer of Jabez; what a challenge!
    Beautiful quote by Rumi