This last weekend Lisa and I were invited to a community is Chessetcook, Nova Scotia, to give a talk Saturday night. We have known many of them for years. We were there five years ago. So it was refreshing to see them again.
The community meets at the house of John and Judith Brannen. He’s a builder and she’s an artist. That’s her painting on the right. We met them years ago because they were on the leadership team of the Halifax Vineyard. When the Vineyard pastors and leadership teams we got to know each other. Like us though, they found the church too constricting and eventually left. Young adults live in the area, many of them graduates from St. Stephen’s University, because it is an arts community that is also popular for surfing. So the Brannens opened up their home and they all meet there once or twice a month. They usually have a potluck, drink lots of beer, wine, and scotches, and just chat about various topics. Then, they have what they call communion. They break bread and share a goblet of wine. No prayers. No worship songs. No religious overtones. For them, the communion symbolizes their communion as a community.
So we met Saturday night. There were maybe 30 people there. Again, lots of good food, drinks, and chatting. There was a musician there and he sang a couple folk songs he’d written.
Then I gave my talk.
The first thing I talked about was Lisa and I leaving the church. Now, the last time we were there with them was in February of 2010. I resigned as pastor of Rothesay Vineyard in March of 2010. I told them that visiting them at that time was instrumental in my leaving the ministry and the church. To experience that kind of intellectual curiosity and openness, as well as the unconditional love, was a hopeful sign for me. I’d given up that it was possible at the church I was at at the time. Another energy had taken over that I no longer wished to combat. So I quit. I quit with the hope that one day I would be able to enjoy the same kind of community they do in that place. I thanked them for helping me make that huge leap into freedom.
Then I told them about my Sophia journey. They had an AppleTV rig there. That’s so cool! I want one. All I had to do was open my iPhoto, click on the AppleTV link, and boom! it was on their flat screen TV. So I took them through many of the images and shared my story. There were a lot of questions and there was lots of discussion. It was wonderful to see a few young men and especially some young women click with Sophia. They told me the next day that they went home and ordered the book. They shared how they all of a sudden felt they had permission to embrace their rebellion and their newfound expression of their own personal style of freedom. They expressed heartfelt thanks to me. In a world where I get lots of mean and nasty messages from people, these gestures of gratitude mean a lot.
On the way home I asked Lisa: “Why can’t we do something like that at our home?” She reminded me of where we live. I have a reputation here. On the one hand it might attract some people who think I’ve returned and expect the same kind of things we used to have in our home groups, with people bringing guitars and djembes and expecting worship and prayer, etcetera. Or, on the other hand, we might get no one at all. She reminded me that I tried to start something here last year where I was giving talks on things like, “You’ve left the church. Now what?” and only a couple people came… people who used to be on my leadership team and we’re still friends with.
So, I don’t know. I have TLS. It’s been going now for two and a half years. It continues to grow. I hope it grows so that it can help more people. It is very satisfying and helpful for me. But maybe we’ll try to see if we can start doing TLS events locally here and wherever some TLSers can get a group together. There’s even been talk now and then of having a TLS retreat. That would be cool. But always know that TLSers are welcomed in my home any time. If you want to come visit, we’ll treat you right and have a good time. We’ll do it like the Chessetcook Communion Group. And one of us can share something in a talk. Wouldn’t that be cool?
You guys are amazing! Those guys in Chessetcook are amazing! There are lots of “us” out there. But the dynamic that happens when we freely gather, locally and online, is astoundingly beautiful to me. I think it needs to happen more for more people. I invite people whenever I can. You may too!
Thanks guys. I just wanted to tell you my story from last weekend.
Peace and love,