Mission 2018 Day 1: Off to Detroit! (via Chicago)

Hello, Dear Reader!
Welcome to what is typically an annual tradition of a round of blog posts about a summer mission trip experience. It’s my hope to bring you near-daily rounds of written updates and plenty of photography. As these blog posts are often written after others are in bed (because that, frankly, is the only “down time” there is to write), I thank you for your grace as these come up and hope you’ll forgive the occasional typo or odd sentence just in case I fall asleep at the keyboard and purple monkey dishwasher.
This year, the church I serve, Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church, has teamed up with Richfield United Methodist Church and a good friend from Northfield United Methodist Church to serve Jesus at Motown Mission in Detroit, Michigan. Our team is 7 adults and 13 youth entering grades 8-12, with some of us on our very first mission trip. We’re a diverse crew of many different backgrounds and identities, though we all have one common identity: beloved children of God. We hope to remember this at all times as we band together as “the church” for our week serving at Motown Mission (you’ll learn more about this organization and their local partners as the week goes on).

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How I almost made our church be one of the churches slamming the door on Jen Hatmaker (and why slamming doors reminded me to keep ours open).

Friends, we’re minutes away from Jen Hatmaker and Nichole Nordeman’s sold-out evening show, Moxie Matters, at Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church where I serve as Associate Pastor. The matinee was a blast and I’m excited for tonight. What a pleasure it was to meet Jen, Nichole, and their team. The 600-person matinee audience shared laughter, tears, stories, and songs. The evening audience will do the same, and with just as much moxie! I’m always amazed at the vulnerability, hope, and community that is shared in that magnificent sanctuary.
I also want to share this article I wrote for our church’s newsletter this month. It shares a little about how I almost said “No” what’s clearly an amazing event. I’m going to offer you my vulnerability and tell you this story. May my teachable moment be a teachable moment for how we all stop divisiveness, practice inclusion, and build God’s kingdom of love. Thanks for stopping by, Dear Reader. If you’re new, thanks for subscribing and sharing.
Originally published the in Inspire magazine for Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church:
Moxie Matters Tour
I’m proud of this church for walking with people on their faith journeys. Each of us has our own unique spiritual path to find and to follow. No one’s journey is without obstacles, nor is anyone’s better than another’s, and dare I say I don’t think we’ll ever be “done” seeking God. Here’s a vulnerable moment I recently had on my
journey as one of your pastors.
On February 20, Hennepin will host the “Moxie Matters” tour featuring bestselling Christian author Jen Hatmaker and singer/songwriter Nichole Nordeman. It’s going
to be a big one, friends—the evening show in the Sanctuary sold out in less than two days, and the matinee is on its way to a sell-out, too. I’m proud we’re hosting this tour. However, that’s not where I started. When Jen’s tour team reached out to Hennepin to ask if we would serve as a tour stop venue, I admit I was hesitant. True, I knew Jen’s message more by reputation than by my own reading, but

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Mission 2017 Supplemental: Why We Do What We Do

I thought I’d take a pause midway through the week to write about the “Why” behind this mission trip. After all, we got underway with a pretty sparse post and here we are, halfway in without much context, save for those who are here and/or who have sent loved ones. And with that, let’s take a moment to explore why we’re here and why we’re doing what we’re doing in Washington, D.C. and Steubenville, Ohio.
Rev. Lyndy Zabel is the Director of Missional Impact for the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. Through his office, he helps steer the Conference’s connections with outreach ministries and partnerships across the nation and the world. Through a Conference grant, Pastor Lyndy hoped to revive an old Conference tradition of bringing young people out east for a taste of faith meets politics. When I found out this trip to Washington, D.C. would happen during the same week that Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church traditionally goes on a mission trip, I spoke with my team about the possibility, and here we are. It’s a Conference-wide trip with teens and adults from at least six churches coming together.
This mission trip has three distinct mission fields: justice, compassion, and community. Here’s the context that participants and their families received before departure:

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Mission 2017 Day 3, Part 2: The American Art of Militarism

Day Three continued with a story about running for your life, story in the form of many mediums of art, and a story of how to balance faith, power, and allegiance. In other words, a refugee, an artist, and a chaplain walk into a bar…
“What did I do to deserve this?”
Our final speaker for our first day of seminars at the United Methodist Building was a young man named Engoma Fataki, an immigrant from the Democratic Republic of Congo who has spent a majority of his life living in various refugee camps. For those keeping track at home, Engoma first entered a refugee camp at age 5. He’s 19 now. Engoma is working with GBCS as a student in the Ethnic Young Adult Intern Cohort, a ministry designed for young people to explore their faith while they work with an organization focused on social justice. What we heard today was his personal witness.
In his story, there are many tents, many pieces of trash, and not much else. That’s the

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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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Mission 2017 Day 1: Embarking to DC

Greetings, Dear Reader! We have embarked on our mission trio to Washington DC and Steubenville, Ohio! I’ll be writing and posting all week (wifi pending!) to get you in on all our exploits. Subscribe today so you don’t miss a beat.Tonight’s post is short and quick, as we don’t have wifi and I’m typing this on … Read more