I've been meaning to write for awhile. But writing at all takes presence and peace of mind which has been hard to maintain in the unrelenting higgledy-piggledy. My mind quickly fogs in the stress which has inhabited most of 2014, much of the time. To write, at least for me, requires stress be held at bay. Otherwise, my ADD hitches to the stress train and into the fog we race.
Our scenario for weeks been set by 2 questions: Will we be able to stay here in Northampton, or will we be forced to go?" Every day presents differing degrees of confusion regarding those questions from experiencing brief respites to "it's all over; let's get packing and cut our losses while we still can."
Both of us hate the emotional turmoil to be honest.
There is some clarity. We will move out of our apartment on Main Street by mid-August. The plan is to move to a house on the property of Pinebrook Christian Camp in Shutesbury about 40 minutes away. Kevin and Janet Williams who've been directors of the camp for 18 years and are members of imagine/Northampton (and the Leadership Team) have graciously offered it to us, and their Board has agreed. We will be able to catch our breath, have some room to get back on our feet financially (a great need as it's been really scary) and refocus our energies toward rebuilding.
The above move presupposes we keep the imagine offices and the imagine ART Gallery on Main Street so we're not completely displaced from the city. That way we can maintain our presence in Northampton and pursue the Kingdom mission we were called to. Our new living arrangement will be temporary until we've stabilized financially and regained our bearings. We want to come back and live in or near Northampton, but not on Main Street.
The option we're undertaking also presupposes:
1. The imagine/Northampton Church grows numerically. If it does, it will need to leave the offices and find another space. That's good, especially if we stay in Northampton. There is commitment to do so on the part of the leadership.
2. Klesis must grow and expand the ministries it offers to support Tricia and me financially: more PLAYMAKER Profiles of Motivational Design; more Listening in Christ Retreats for Groups and Immersion Retreats for individuals and couples; more counseling and spiritual direction sessions. We can also take pressure off our small church to support us. It has not really been able to since the beginning of 2014.
3. Develop Patrons for the imagine ART Gallery so we can expand the gallery's outreach and better meet it's costs, especially rent of the space. Maybe some of you would be interested; let's talk.
4. Expanding our donor base for the church, as well as for Klesis.
5. Cutting and holding down costs across the board.
If we can do all of those things by God's grace and supply we have a fighting chance of sustaining and growing the ministries. It would be fairly easy to call it a day given what we've endured. A trusted friend of mine and a Klesis Board member has graciously offered office space in another town. But each time I've considered it, my heart struggles. So much of what has been happening feels as if we're being forced from here against our wills. Sure, we've made mistakes, been dreamers sometimes, and not been as proactive as we've needed to be at times -- especially me -- but my heart kept saying "no" as if I'd stepped out of phase with my purpose for a minute. I've not fought hard enough in the places where I'm uncomfortable, but that shouldn't determine whether we leave or stay.
So I'm beginning to fight. The way I'm doing it is by leaving my comfort zone and advocating for what we need in a way I never have. I did it twice last week and plan to do more this coming week. We won't have if we don't ask. If I venture little, I gain the same - unacceptable.
Also, our landlord has graciously offered to lower the office rent by 25%. That's substantial. He wants us to stay, especially after he attended the last Arts Night Out and saw the space teeming with guests. In his own words: "I want to see the church survive in Northampton. I think it is a fine addition to the downtown." He is not a Christian.
Some friends of ours in the area will be providing monthly support which will help take the edge of. And, we are waiting for tax money our tax preparer found we are entitled to, but had not taken previously. We are also waiting for a state tax refund which will help.
We could really use your prevailing prayer on our behalf, but also your considering giving to the mission, either Klesis or imagine, if you haven't. Contact me and we can talk about it. If you are giving, stick with us until we clear these hurdles. If there are others you think would support what we're about, let them and me know so I can tell them about what God is up to here. I'd love to do that.
There is much more to do; the imagine/Northampton folks need to step up, and Klesis needs to step up. Of course, unless God builds the house we labor in vain, but I'm not convinced He has left us to our own puny building skills.