By Winn Collier
In our first year, my wife Miska described All Souls as a “three-legged dog.” She meant it an endearing way. Miska has always been drawn to those of us who hop along in life; and she’s always eschewed the pretensions many of us so easily take on. Somehow, All Souls became a refuge for burnt, weary, broken people. Most people had some measure of church experience (we are in Virginia after all). Some weren’t sure what they thought of God. Some felt beat up. Most all of us wanted a space where we could know love.
Into our second year, we’ve actually seen a little community form. For me, the beautiful things are when I see that glimmer of hope or joy return to someone’s eyes or when someone joins us at Jesus’ Table for the first time. Just the other day, one woman told me. “You know, for the first time, I don’t feel like running away from church. I feel like I’ve been allowed to be a person here.” Another woman told me simply, “I think that now I know God is real.”
Our community is about as simple as they come. We read the Scriptures each Sunday. We pray prayers and gather around the gospel. We always pass Jesus’ peace to one another. Sometime someone will have a reading or a piece of art or a story to share. We gather around the Scripture, either through a pastor teaching or through (and these are fun moments) a guided text conversation. Once a month, we have a shared meal. We meet in smaller communities in various nooks and crannies around the city, asking what it means to live as Jesus’ disciples in our world. Most who are with us believe. Some are beginning to believe. Some don’t care much but think there might be something here worth hanging around.
Soon, we’ll turn from Lent to Easter, and on Easter morning we’ll have our second Easter Party downtown. We’ll have music and give away hot organic apple-spiced donuts from our local donut artisan, Carpe Donut. We’ll be out in our city, among neighbors and friends and soon-to-be friends, celebrating that Jesus rose from the dead. We’ll be out there, hopping along.