Who Is My Edina Neighbor?

2014.08.14 Who Is My Edina Neighbor

“Who is my neighbor?”

It’s an eternal question and we don’t always like the answer because it can be challenging. Our neighbor could include the stranger, the broken, the enemy. But maybe that relationship is precisely the one that could surprise us the most.

Last night I spent nearly five hours at the City Hall in Edina, MN to listen to public discussion before the City Planning Commission on an affordable housing project proposed by Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative. They’re hoping to build a 39-unit building across the street from Southdale and need approval to build in a part of the city that would need special permission because of its zoning regulations. This building and the professional services inside will help young adults, ages 18-22, who have experienced homelessness be able to transition to living on their own, paying rent, getting a job, going to school, and so on. I fully support this.

There has been tremendous support and recently there’s been some dissent, as well. There was a lot of powerful testimony from many perspectives last night, appealing to so many ways of thinking about this issue. From safety and security concerns for current residents and businesses to safety and security for homeless young people who need a second or third chance. From the potential for local business growth to the nervousness of business damage. From location to money to parking to community. No one spoke superfluously; all spoke from the heart. And whether I agreed with them or not, and whether I thought everyone spoke with healthy wording or not, I appreciated that all who did speak did so with passion. It shows a tremendous investment in the community and for my money, only good things can come from that.

What follows is what I said at the forum. I honestly can’t recall speaking at a public forum like this before so it was new to me and an interesting experience. I came because friends from Richfield United Methodist Church encouraged me to attend and I’m glad they did. I spoke because I heard people talk about this community or that community but not everyone together as the community. So here’s what I said (going off my notes and memory):

My name is Nate Melcher and I’m the Associate Pastor at Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church in downtown Minneapolis. My family and I live at XXX X XXXX XXXXXX in Minneapolis, just a few blocks north of The Hub at West 66th. My previous vocation was running a residence life program at a community college and I’ve seen first-hand what happens when a community of young people come together to live and have assistance from intentional, in-house professional services.

I’m highly-interested in young people finding meaning in their lives. In the research that’s out there in the

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Christianity is "The chance to give a shit." A theological reaction to Guardians of the Galaxy

I have never (to my recollection) used swear words on this blog, and if you don’t want to read “shit” a few times, you can skip this one but I hope you’ll bear with me. If you don’t want to read one or two (relatively) minor spoilers for Guardians of the Galaxy that already partially … Read more

UPDATE: Simpson Shelter Has Taken the Lead; Help Them Keep It.

2013.02.20 Please Help Simpson Shelter With Your Vote
Update: Simpson Shelter moved into first place in the voting last week. Help them stay in the lead and win a $25,000 kitchen makeover. Will you please help?
What’s the contest?

The Family Handyman magazine and IKEA are co-sponsoring a contest called “Rescue Remodel” running through March 30 to award one community organization an IKEA kitchen makeover worth up to $25,000. Here’s what the contest at RescueRemodel.com says:

Deserving community organizations from across the country were nominated by their communities to win an IKEA® dream kitchen through our Rescue Remodel Contest. The organization with the most votes will receive a dream kitchen renovation valued at $25,000. And since it’s all from IKEA®, it will be full of smart and innovative ideas to make their lives a little bit easier so they can better serve our communities.
When I first posted about this contest, Simpson Shelter was behind by 2000 votes. Now it’s taken the lead by

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Dr. James Dobson's Theology Is Heartbreaking.

2013.01.15 James Dobson Is Wrong
Dr. James Dobson addressed the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on his weekly radio program last month. You can listen to the entire 25:55 episode to hear the founder of Focus on the Family in full context. Below is a the piece of what he said that has left people like me in disbelief:

Our country really does seem in complete disarray. I’m not talking politically, I’m not talking about the result of the November sixth election; I am saying that something has gone wrong in America and that we have turned our back on God.

I mean millions of people have decided that God doesn’t exist, or he’s irrelevant to me and we have killed 54 million babies and the institution of marriage is right on the verge of a complete redefinition. Believe me, that is going to have consequences, too.

And a lot of these things are happening around us, and somebody is going to get mad at me for saying what I am about to say right now, but I am going to give you my honest opinion: I think we have turned our back on the scripture and on God almighty and I think he has allowed judgment to fall upon us. I think that’s what’s going on.

I am constructing my theology. I don’t have it all formed yet. And really, forming never stops! And yet, something about this does not sit well with me. When I read this and listen to it, I believe Dr. Dobson is intentionally implying God has judged the US because there is legalized abortion and legislation and conversation surrounding marriage equality and the tragedy at Sandy Hook is a direct consequence of God’s judgment as we “turned our back on God” for these reasons.
I have three thoughts on this:
1. I think Dr. Dobson’s timing is unfortunate at best.

Dr. Dobson made these comments on Monday, December 17, 2012. That’s three days after the slayings at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Only one day after the first memorial service for two of the victims, two boys aged six. One day after persons of faith experienced what their own pastor had to offer on the situation and one day to process what one of their most trusted faith mentors offered in prayerful thought. One day after people were back at back at work, back at school, back to regular ol’ “weekdays.” That’s not a lot of time.
The following phrase gets used

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How Companies Should Respond II: Government Edition

Last week I wrote about Minute Maid’s clever, Ghostbusters reference-laden response to my request to bring back Ecto-Cooler. Seems like it’s not only corporations who are giving out clever responses. So is the government. In December, a petition of a required 25,000+ names went forward to the White House to ask them to build a … Read more

Follow My Friends in South Africa This Month

Rolling scenery of South Africa's breadbasket province, Mpumalanga

A group of dear friends and former seminary colleagues are in South Africa for approximately three weeks on a global justice journey. These trips are not mission trips in that they’re not doing service projects and recovery construction (awesome mission trips!) nor going specifically to convert people to a particular brand of Christianity (not my cup of tea!). Rather, these are on-the-ground ways to experience God’s creation of the interdependent global community and see the struggles for justice, liberation, and peace face-to-face. Through the travelers’ learnings, they return home changed people who might be more enlightened and spread the spark to others (now that’s evangelism). I wish I could go but the trip is out of my budget and time reach, unfortunately. I’m following along on their trip blog to learn about everything they’re experiencing and I anticipate I’ll be a little more than jealous if (and when!) they meet the Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

I went on one of these global justice trips in March, 2010 to El Salvador and

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