Mission 2018 Day 04: Go Tigers!

Today was a “half day” but a full day, Dear Reader! Read on for updates on morning work projects, afternoon outings, and a night at the ballpark.
Rippling Hope Spreading Far and Wide
Team #2 went to work with Rippling Hope for the morning. Started by husband-and-wife missionary team Carl and Robin, they kicked this ministry off 8 years ago after working with many church ministries throughout their lives. However, when funding shifted they were invited to Detroit to try something new and here they are to stay. How do we know? They just bought a house and are planting roots in the community they’re trying to help cultivate into something beautiful. I admire their courage and their trust in Jesus!
Much of their work is in home repair, beautification projects like Free Little Libraries, plus a lot of work for animals. There are cat colonies all over the city, because sadly as homes become abandoned so do animals. Dogs and cats are wild and need change, too. Rippling Hope creates outdoor cat shelters (almost like Free Little Libraries without the stand) and work with the Animal Human Society to do TNR work. That’s “Trap, Neuter, Release.” They help trap the cats, the AHS neuters and spays for free, and they’re released to the same areas they know. Our work with the animals came in the form of hauling bags and bags of donated and low-cost bags of dog food and unloading a pallet of cat food bowls to donate to local residents. Our main work was at Ms. Stafford’s home.
Many homes have a run-down look on the outside. The tough part about that is if it looks a little rough outside, the interior is likely more than a little rough, especially the parts one can’t immediately see where rotting, etc. can take place. Still, without a lot of money to get to the much-needed renovations and upgrades, some organizations are doing priority repairs (stairs, for example) and beautification to build pride and rebuild morale until major repairs can be done. That was our job today at Ms. Stafford’s home. We broke into two groups, with 8 of us chipping then repainting the wide porch to give her home a cleaner, brighter look. The stairs had just been repaired by another group and that’s key: you can’t make it to dialysis 3-4 times a week if you can’t get out of your house! I appreciate Rippling Hope making practical repairs a priority.
Meanwhile, Jenna and I headed inside to replace and/or install a series of smoke detectors throughout the home. At one point, we needed an extra 9-volt battery, so we hopped in the van and ended up with an extra tour of the city. We saw several giant buildings, now shallow husks of yesteryear. Smashed windows, overgrown razor wire fencing, crumbling concrete barriers. One giant factory had the gates wide open. Anyone could walk in there, including little kids, which frightens me a bit. We also saw a few homes which had

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Mission 2018 Day 03: Alleyways and Stairways

Today was our first full work day with Motown Mission and it was a full one! I have more details about Team #2 than Team #1 and will fill in the gaps later down the line as I’m able. In the meantime, please know your prayers and support truly do matter. Thank you to all of you for loving us from back home, it means a lot.
Rock the Block
There are dozens of projects in Detroit that are all working to remake the city. Whether through beautification or refurbishment, repair or gardening, if you can name a way the city can improve, there’s at least one organization working on it. There are more than just 501c3 entities or corporations hard at work, though. Sometimes, it’s just plain neighbors.
Electra is the president of her neighborhood block association, Gateway, part of an Historic District Alliance of neighbors trying to help all parts of the city come back. A worshiper at Metropolitan UMC, she and her team have partnered with Motown Mission to get volunteers into their neighborhood and change it one sweep of the rake at a time. We right to work with her and her volunteer team early this morning.
Time Out: Quick Caveat…
This is a good moment to offer a caveat to everything I’m writing all week, Dear Reader: I’m doing my best with the truth. I’m not doing a lot of scholarly work on the Detroit situation as I’m writing here. Rather, I rely on the eyewitness testimony of the people we’re working with to tell me the story from their point of view. I could very well write something here that down the road someone can come back to me and say it’s factually wrong and if so I’ll gladly offer a correction. But in the meantime, you’ll hear the stories as the storytellers tell me what’s on their hearts and minds.
Hey, we’re all doing our best, okay? Okay…
Back to the Action:

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Mission 2017 Day 3, Part 1: The American Art of Migration

It was a packed first full day in Washington, D.C., Dear Reader, so packed today’s post comes in two parts. In Part 1, you’ll learn about our first seminars, guest speakers, and impromptu worship services. In Part 2, you’ll hear about our trip to an art gallery and our conversation with a chaplain. But for now, let’s start with a little something called The Social Principles…
“Social” Before “Social Media”
United Methodists have long taken a stand on issues impacting real people around the world. Through our Book of Discipline, we lay out all the rules and policies for our denomination: how we organize our structure (polity), what parameters there are for ordination (plenty), and there’s a place for taking a stand on justice (policy). That place is the Social Principles, a series of statements the UMC has made over the years addressing topics from war to hunger, from human rights to agriculture, from media violence to racism. Each statement names the challenge to society and goes on to offer a denominational opinion or position.
Now, not every United Methodist agrees with every word of the Social Principles. But that’s not the point. Rather, this is a series of statements we point to as a means of saying that, by and large, our church stands for these sorts of ways of God’s loving justice to enter the world and we believe it is in these particular ways. These statements belong to the church, so much like a creed, we can trust that at any given point, there are people in the church who believe in them and will go to bat for them. It’s the most malleable piece of the Discipline we have (it’s also the least binding) and if ever there was a “living document” portion to how we come together this is

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I suppose it's possible.

2016.07.07 I Suppose It's Possible
Update: It’s looking less and less possible. “Police officer charged in fatal shooting of Philando Castile; County attorney: Yanez was not justified in his use of deadly force.”
After my spouse and I heard Philando Castile was killed last night, we were sad. After we watched the aftermath video, we were outraged. After I watched highlights of Philando’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, talk about what happened, I wept.
Then I read the comments.
I know you’re not supposed to do that, but I did that.
I’d like to address one particular kind of comment I’ve read. I’ve seen people write something to the effect that the video and Diamond are only giving us “one side of the story,” and that “we don’t know the whole story” and that we should “reserve judgment” until we get the “all the facts.” To me, these writers are trying to imply maybe killing Philando was justified, that he was a danger to Officer Jeronimo Yanez, that he was going for his weapon, and Officer Yanez did what had to be done. They are saying that all of that is quite possibly the other side of the whole story’s facts, and until we know for sure on that, we shouldn’t have any judgment about the situation.
I can see that.
Because, I mean…
I suppose it’s possible Philando thought the best thing he could do is create a world in which a four-year-old girl watches him shoot a cop.

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Pay Attention to the Public Ten.

Last week I made my first blog post in a long while (yeah, yeah, I know) about why I am ignoring the allegedly “more than eight” pastors and theologians who call for an “amicable separation” within the United Methodist Church over differences of understanding human sexuality. This week is a new story, a new companion … Read more Pay Attention to the Public Ten.

Ignore the Anonymous Eighty.

“More than eighty pastors and theologians” do not deserve my attention. That’s whom has allegedly signed to / crafted / believe in a press release calling for an “amicable separation” within the United Methodist Church over differences of understanding human sexuality. You’ll note I didn’t link to the press release and soon you’ll realize why. … Read more Ignore the Anonymous Eighty.