The Next Great Adventure

In 1990 it was moving from Pocatello, Idaho to Berkeley, California. Seminary for me. Architecture for Pam. Urban schools for our kids. And a rich, rewarding, wild/crazy  new chapter for us all. It was indeed, the next great adventure.

In 2000 it was stepping away from parish ministry to do community organizing with Metro Alliance for Common Good (MACG)  in Portland.  A wild ride of internal work as I began to piece together the puzzle of unfinished past business and wrestling with the iniquities of our public life. A career path cut short by the funding vacuum of 9/11/01 and back to parish ministry, only to continue organizing through Parkrose UMC.

In the last couple of years the waters of life have calmed, the church is sailing on even keel, family life is strong and kids are all doing well following their dreams. Ahhhh, life is good! Exactly… however…

I have never really been a “maintenance” person. According to the fable, Moses never made it to the “Promised Land”. I’m wondering if maybe he actually made it into the PL with the rest but took a look around and said, “Nah!”. The story says he died. I like to think he turned around and headed back to Egypt… to wrestle with the iniquities of their public life.

Over the last couple of years, God has shaken me from sleep in the middle of the night more times than I want to remember with the question, “What’s my next great adventure?” And I’ve been poking by soul, my community connections, my friends (and, of course, my wife Pam), for answers. Three things have emerged as strong possible links or strands:

  • The New City Initiative, congregations working to end homelessness in Portland. I’m working with Paul Schroeder and other leaders to ramp up the effort after NCI’s first year. PUMC is connected with our community dinner and neighborhood food pantry.
  • Leading a group of United Methodist leaders in the Metro District toward an initiative to create (ecumenically and with public partners) a new community crossing class and culture in Portland’s poverty-ridden wasteland of outer NE Portland/East Multnomah County.
  • Leading an organizing effort within MACG and surrounding community partners in the conversation about food security.

I’ve been thinking that if ANY of these initiatives gained traction it could lead to a new chapter. So far, they ALL have. Life is getting VERY interesting.

At PUMC our Core Leaders have been working on a model of intentional faith development in an effort to find language to talk about the journey we’re ALL on. We decided in this model there would be three sections in the pathway of a spiritual journey: Beginning the Journey, Growing in Faith, Maturing in Discipleship. Check out the characteristics a person might have who is just beginning a journey of faith:

  • Looking for answers, looking for hope, looking for something to be different or changed.
  • Wanting to be seen and heard but wanting NOT to stand out.
  • Responding to a personal invitation and connection.
  • Not sure what to do next, and uncertain what lies ahead.

Yes, I appear to be at some beginning stage of a new journey. the Next Great Adventure? I’m thinking so.

What’s your next great adventure?

Bill