Joining this network of churches and neighborhood
partners engages deep learning, careful reflection, & bold action aimed at the transformation of local communities.
LEARNING FROM EACH OTHER
We want to be known as great neighbors!
By Amy Moritz | October 10, 2019
Bethel UMC is in west San Antonio and is 53 years old. A team from the church just completed the core training for Transformational Communities of Praxis (TCOP). And, they hosted their first community convening in early October using some of their new skills!
Twenty-five people attended the Community Connections Convening including church members, many of whom live in the neighborhoods surrounding the church, and three community partners (First Baptist Church, Habitat for Humanity, and Community Workers Council). Cedric Gilmore, Bethel Lay Leader and TCOP team member, noted that 75% of the church members who attended were not the usual church-leaders who participate in guiding the church. Most people are familiar with the 80-20 rule that says that 80% of the work is usually done by 20% of the members. Cedric enthusiastically noted that the 80% showed up because they were inspired by the vision of something that would go beyond the status quo, something that would reach into the neighborhood – their neighborhood!
After six hours together learning about each other’s gifts, learning about shalom, and naming the strengths of the community, there was still energy in the room as those in attendance put their names next to the goals that they had helped to craft and that they would help to pursue.
“Because of TCOP, we are better equipped to connect to the community,” said Cedric. And, the first Community Connections Convening reflected that. The skills that TCOP provided helped Cedric and the TCOP team structure an interactive meeting and an atmosphere where everyone, including community partners, was engaged in creating a shared vision for the community and the goals to get there.
“This was the first time we have had this much conversation with these three partners that are right outside our doors. We learned that these community partners have assets that we had no idea existed,” Cedric shared with the Visioning Team of the Rio Texas Conference.
Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) is a framework for engaging and strengthening communities that is foundational to the TCOP program. ABCD invites congregations to shift their focus from looking at only the needs and problems in the community, which can often overwhelm us to the point of inaction, to identifying, celebrating and connecting the gifts, resources and assets of a community in ways that strengthen their impact. An ABCD approach believes that God is already at work in the neighborhood, waiting for us to join in. Discovering resources and partners that Bethel had not previously seen is one of the ways they are learning what God is already doing and how they might participate.
Bethel does not just want to be a place for Sunday mornings. The TCOP training and the support of the TCOP Design Team is helping Bethel to move beyond the walls of the church and beyond Sunday mornings. “We want to be known as great neighbors to this community – phenomenal neighbors – built on relationships and trust,” said Cedric.
Bethel is well on their way to being phenomenal neighbors!
About My TCOP
By Ervinell Walters | October 20, 2019
I was telling a friend that my ‘retirement’ was boring me out of my mind. But then along came TCOP. Actually, my journey from boredom to excitement began when I was first contacted by Cedric. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. And to be honest, I was scared and intimidated. I even had some doubts.
“What are these people talking about?” “What in the world is praxis?” “How can any of this stuff be useful at Bethel?” But the Lord wouldn’t let me back out. Whenever I thought about backing out, intense curiosity took over! When I say, ‘intense’ I mean extreme. I began to trust the process. Then I fell into the process. The more I thought about the training sessions and follow-ups, the more the excitement grew and the less boring my life became.
October 4th, I had no idea what would happen in the morning. But I was waiting in anticipation. October 5th came and I could hardly contain myself. Knots were in my stomach and I couldn’t sit still. Once people began to show up, the excitement was almost overwhelming.
Trust God and trust the process was my mantra for the morning. Knowing that the design team was there to give us a safe place to fall, gave me the confidence to facilitate. It was intimidating at first, but as I saw the light bulbs going off in the faces of the most skeptical of invitees, I wanted to jump and shout! didn’t sleep that night because I couldn’t come down from the high of the day. Sunday morning I was still floating on air. And I felt a change in the air in the church. A change like a fresh wind had blown through.
I want to thank you for all the training and support you have given us over the past year. And I want to thank you for assuring us that you are not just going to leave us alone.
(About the TCOP training; I was blown away learning what I’ve seen all of you do. It was incredible. I only hope, that over time, I can be as proficient, confident and ‘cool’ about facilitating as all of you are.)
I am looking forward to the next steps in Bethel’s journey in this Transformational Communities of Praxis initiative. As I told them in our Sunday announcements, “We’re not done!”
Please send us a note if you would like more information or to schedule a meeting. We want to serve you so you can serve your community.