Rumblings about Rumble

Mirrors and a myriad of colors converge to create an expansive mosaic that covers all three stories of the Rumble Arts Center’s North Avenue façade. The face and trunk of large, silver elephant, Rumble’s logo, sits at the center of the mural, looking out at the passerbys who peek through the large store-front windows into the first floor gallery space.

Since its inception in 2008, the Rumble Arts Center has served as a community-based arts organization dedicated to providing “an accessible cultural space that facilitates the empowerment and education of individuals and communities.” Over the past three years, Rumble Arts has lived into its mission by partnering with a variety of cultural and arts organizations to offer free classes, community events, and safe, open spaces to the members of the Humboldt Park neighborhood.

As an arts center, Rumble Arts provides a variety of multi-cultural and family-friendly classes, including African drumming, martial arts, dance, writing, and music, for all ages and on a sliding fee scale. In addition to providing classes, Rumble Arts also opens its building—which includes multiple art and dance studios, a (soon-to-be) computer lab, full kitchen, art gallery, and recording studio—to the community for personal and organizational use.

On November 27, 2011, Wicker Park Grace will become Grace Commons and move into the Humboldt Park neighborhood as the newest organizational partner of the Rumble Arts Center. As a partner, Grace Commons will gather for spiritual practice/worship in the ground floor art gallery on Sunday evenings and offer workshops, discussion groups, and other activities to the public.

Grace Commons will continue its commitment to being a welcoming community “centered in a generous and dynamic Christianity” while also exploring ways to partner with/in the larger Rumble Arts and Humboldt Park communities.

 

 

 

Graceful Giving

By Emily Hendel

I have been attending Wicker Park Grace for about 5 years, but have had an interest in the community since its beginning. When my husband Matt and I moved to Logan Square, our proximity made it possible for me to attend more regularly and so I did and gradually, so did Matt. Honesty, authenticity, and genuineness are attributes that I greatly value and I quickly found the community at Wicker Park Grace to be one that lived out these attributes in it’s approach to the exploration of faith. This community continues to be one that challenges me, gives me peace, and embraces me with love. I would not approach life with the same curiosity, calm, and joy without it.

Anything that I value as much as I value Wicker Park Grace is something that is worth supporting. There are lots of ways to show support, but today I really want to talk about financial support. Indeed, Wicker Park Grace cannot function without the financial support of the people who value it most. Nanette, this space, Rob’s music, the artwork - none of it comes for free. It can only continue to be here to bring us fulfillment because we give money to keep it going.

The question of how much is the right amount to give is a very personal question for each to consider. However, in an attempt to reflect the genuineness and honesty I so value, I’ll share a little about how this process looks for Matt and I.

We strive to do something called tithing, which is a tradition of giving away 10% of the money you earn. In the last year we didn’t quite get there, but we managed to give away about 7% of our income. And because it holds such a place of importance in our lives 1/3 of that money (about 3% of our income) went to support Wicker Park Grace. We give this money away to Wicker Park Grace and other organizations because it is one way to tangibly demonstrate the amount of value they have for us.

It also gives us a tangible way to live out our belief that we are part of a wider community beyond our immediate family. Part of being involved in that wider community is sharing the money that we have. Giving to Wicker Park Grace and my wider community gives me a sense of connection, a sense that I am not alone in this world.

So, I encourage you to consider your connection to Wicker Park Grace – what it means for you, it’s place in your life – and give accordingly.

This is part of a four-week series on "stewardship" and how people support and participate in sustaining Wicker Park Grace with their time, talents, and finances.

 

Not Meant to Be Safe

By Andrew Hanson

 

Wicker Park Grace at Pride, 2011

Wicker Park Grace at the 2011 Pride Parade in Chicago.

 

I am a young, transient, broke, and progressive-thinking artist (call me a hipster/hippie if you want) who has fully questioned his faith on numerous occasions and has tended to shy away from traditional organized religion. Church; in the ritualistic, not theological sense; no longer works for me like it used to. That is to say, I believe in God and in Christ as a revolutionary who changed my life, but I believed that my personality and beliefs drove me to be alone in my struggle; in what I thought was religious uniqueness.

However, in Chicago I found that I was not alone; indeed the portion of the population like me has caused quite a stir in the Presbytery of Chicago for the last decade. How do we minister effectively to a generation which no longer thinks of Church as “something you just do” or “a social occasion” and has a particular wariness against becoming a “member” of any organization? How do we minister effectively to a generation which slides into the back pews a few spotty Sundays a year (Matthew 18:20) and can barely afford to drop two coins in the offering plate (Mark 12: 42-44)? At least the Easter/Christmas squirrels are consistent! At Wicker Park Grace this summer, I was afforded the opportunity to engage in these talks and struggles.

 

I have long thought that having a “favorite Bible verse” was a cheesy way of espousing ones “superior knowledge” of the Bible to those who would listen. OK, so I am a bit cynical. This summer, however, I have found one that speaks so clearly to me that I simply could not get it out of my head. Romans 13: 8-10. I will paraphrase for us here, “Do not be in debt to another except for love. Christ called us to treat our neighbor as ourselves. Love does not hurt one’s neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” How hard could it possibly be to love everyone as Christ would have us do?

 

The biggest dissonance for me this summer came during what some might call a social justice march. I would prefer to call it an exercise in aerobic hospitality, because the issue does not involve giving money, food, shelter, etc but rather an open, affirming, and welcoming heart. I had the great joy to be invited to walk in the Chicago Gay Pride Parade with WPG and a coalition of affirming churches from the Chicagoland area. The opportunity was fantastic.

 

The ten or so of us from WPG wore rainbow colors, hugged and high-fived everyone we encountered, carried a sign that proclaimed us Christians affirming of LGBTQI rights, and handed out buttons that said “Jesus has pride too.” An estimated 750,000 people showed up to either participate or to watch! That is the size of my entire hometown of Jacksonville, FL. It was so incredibly moving and so unbelievably affirming for my faith in myself and humanity.

 

Everything was progressing marvelously for the first 2/3rds of the parade. Romans 13:8-10 was pulsing in my head and I was exuberant. Then, toward the end of the parade, we came across a group of Christians protesting on the side walk. I would not normally have a problem with that—they are certainly entitled to their own opinion—but I was so astonished by the hurtful things that they were flinging at everyone involved in the parade.

 

I do not necessarily believe that Christ would want someone to stifle their challenging opinions, but I am certain that his vision of love did not include insults and threats. The situation became even more personal when the marching Christians came abreast of the protestors. Through a megaphone we were declared to be the worst sinners of all: people posing as Christians and aiding these souls in their debauchery and sinful natures.

 

How are we called to respond to that? How would I, in a ministerial position, respond? My biggest struggle was convincing myself that these people are indeed Christians too, even if I believe them terribly misguided. They are indeed of the same religion I espouse myself. How can there possibly be such discrepancy?

 

The second struggle I faced was the full application of the Romans passage. Christ does not call me to react in anger at such insults or at such a misrepresentation of my definition of Christianity. Christ calls me to put my big boy pants on and love those Christians with all of my heart even in the face of their insults and threats. I think anyone would agree that such a task would be nigh impossible. But again, as a pastor (or even in this case as a Christian in general) I would be called to struggle with my whole being to accomplish such a love.

 

The experience has been very humanizing. It has caused me to take a serious look at my beliefs: where I stand and where I sit. It has caused me to expand my limited perceptions of Scripture and its implications for me as a human (and not simply as a white, middle-class, suburban, heterosexual, Christian male) in community with other humans. I am human and humbled in the face of God’s love. The burning bush has never felt so scorchingly bright and soothingly warm.

 

I am still not completely sure that I am called to ministry as a career, but the Davidson Ministry Fellowship has afforded me an awesome opportunity to challenge myself spiritually and intellectually. I will struggle with finding a good outlet to worship in the coming years because of how WPG has affected me, but I look on that problem affectionately as inconsequential compared to the rest of the problems it has handed me. I will never be able to look at a Scripture the same way again.

 

We are not meant to be safe in faith, but to struggle. And I think that is what my generation has been looking to find: some form of deeper struggle and connection with one another and God that transcends the Sunday morning liturgy. And the beauty about this church without walls idea of hospitality and community is that I can continue to be involved with WPG from miles away.

 

Andrew was a student intern from Davidson College at Wicker Park Grace during the summer of 2011. That's him in the yellow shirt in the pic!

 

Spiritual Food

By Brian Entz

 

BrianAs I am getting ready to continue on my journey, finishing my YAV (Young Adult Volunteer) year in Chicago and starting work on my Masters of Divinity at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, my time with Wicker Park Grace has been a great source of community, worship, conversation, and new experiences. I will gladly take my time spent as part of WPG with me to seminary and beyond as I study and discern God’s call for my life. No matter if I become a pastor of a church or simply continue being a participant in one, I will take my knowledge and experiences gained as part of WPG wherever I go.

One of the practices I have enjoyed greatly has been the weekly potluck after worship (not just because I love to eat). While the communal worship/spiritual practice(s) are a great part of WPG, it was at the potluck where I got to meet and become friends with those that I was worshipping with. I see gathering together for a meal as an integral part of Christian practice, not just in the form of communion, but also in just a regular dinner together. Food is such a big part of Jesus’ ministry whether it is The Last Supper with his disciples, dinner at a table of sinners, multiplication of a couple fish and loaves to feed the hungry crowd, or the use of agriculture and grains in His parables. The table is a common place for everyone to meet, as no one can live without food, both physical and spiritual, and what better place to find spiritual food than gathered around a table with friends?

I will miss being able to participate in all the great things WPG does and is planning to do, but it will always be one of the great examples in my life of Christian Community being realized. May God’s Peace and Blessings be on WPG and everyone who is part of this great community.

(Brian began his seminary studies at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary this fall, 2011)

 
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