Having shared some of my personal journey in Washington, DC: Chapter 2, I thought that you might appreciate knowing a little more about the church. (Let me warn you now: this email is long. Like, really long.)
A Church for the City
At The District Church, we want to be centered around and excelling in worship, community and justice; we want to be a church that seeks to love God, to love our neighbors, and to love the city to which God had called us. If you look on the church’s website (www.districtchurch.org), one of our first descriptors is “A Church for the City.”
This vision and passion is built upon God’s words to the Israelite people in exile in Babylon in the 6th century BC: “Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare” (Jeremiah 29:7).
Washington, DC is a fascinating city. On the one hand, it is a city rich in culture and history, a city to which movers and shakers from all over the world come, a city that leads the country in terms of life expectancy, education and income.
And yet it is also a city with devastating poverty, a struggling public education system, and an HIV infection rate higher than many sub-Saharan African nations—it’s estimated that one in every twenty adults in DC has the infection.
People come to DC to change the country, to change the world … and yet changing the city is often overlooked. We want to be a church that seeks to make a genuine, tangible difference in the place to which we have been called.
Moreover, community is hard to find in a city whose transience is so ingrained by the political cycles; in this context, we want to be a church that provides such to people. People may—and will—leave DC because God calls them to other things, but we don’t want people leaving DC because they couldn’t find a faith community and friends.
What We’ve Been Doing
As “A Church for the City,” we’ve been doing outreach into the neighborhood, including:
- making connections with schools in the neighborhood, including cheering on one of local high schools at their football games with Young Lifers;
- serving at Central Union Mission last week;
- sponsoring a Christmas tree for Columbia Heights, and organizing a tree lighting, complete with alternative Christmas marketplace. We’ve already got the support of the local councilmember, so we’re just working on getting a tree and lights!
In short, things are happening, and we’re super excited!
Prayer Updates and Asks
Your thoughts and prayers have been appreciated. To recap:
- Aaron and I have been figuring out job responsibilities, schedule and routine;
- I’ve applied for a couple of part-time jobs, as well as giving my résumé to friends at faith-based non-profits in case project/consultancy work becomes available; and
- I’m still (happily) ensconced in the Grahams’ dark (important when you’re a light sleeper like me) and warm (important when winter starts rolling in) basement.
Moving forward, I’d appreciate prayer for the following:
- For continued development of the job, and particularly for discipline and discernment on my part. It’s easy for me to get carried away doing work that I love, but I need to be consciously drawing boundaries and taking time off, otherwise I’m gonna burn out real soon!
- That fundraising continues apace (more below), that the church is able to purchase a house in the area to serve as a community outpost of sorts (which I would be able to stay in, which in turn would reduce the amount that I need to raise), and/or that a part-time job works out.
- That we continue making inroads into the community—it’s exciting to begin building some good relationships with folks in the neighborhood, and we want them to continue!
- For me on December 12 since that’s the date that I’ll be preaching for the first time (ever)! I’m starting to get really excited about it, and will post a link to the audio when it becomes available in a few weeks.
The support has been slowly and steadily rolling in, and I’ve now raised about 33% of what I need for the year (November to November). To put this into context, I’m looking to raise about $2,500 per month (or $30,000 for the year), which includes rent, utilities, health insurance, food, transportation … everything, really! Through a combination of monthly and one-time gifts, I’m now at just over $10,000 for the year, which is pretty phenomenal for just a month of support raising!
Thanks to you all, whether you’ve given, committed to give in the coming months, or been willing but unable to give; your support and encouragement has been invaluable to me.
The next step for me is to ask each of you to connect me with somebody you think would be able, interested and willing to support me; I’ll be emailing again soon to follow up with this!
Thanks again, friends. Happy Thanksgiving (if you celebrate it)!
Tags: a church for the city aaron graham amy graham central union mission columbia heights community faith god justin fung life love god love your neighbor poverty the district church