14th September, 2019
Feast of the Exultation of the Holy Cross
To the Whatcom Love INC Family,
As the newly-appointed Executive Director of Whatcom Love INC, I’m excited to journey with you as a leader in this unique season for this unique organization. The work that is laid out before us is in the coming years is going to be one of discerning the way forward through a generational shift within the life of the Church in our region. Our contribution to that discernment is vital, because Love INC is an organ within our local ecclesiastical ecosystem in and through which the local Church comes to recognize and live into her mission and vocation, for the life and the uplift of our community.
For my part, I believe wholeheartedly and unhesitatingly in Love INC’s vision of seeing the local Church mobilized in local mission, loving and serving our communities and our neighbors in need, and I’m excited to see how God will work through my season at the helm of this organization to realize it. The reality, however, is that this is a critical season: this is the “do or die,” or more rightly, the “grow or die” moment for our partnership. God does not need Love INC to accomplish this vision, but I do believe that he wants to use it: he wants to honor the legacy of faithfulness and the good name the organization has built by its 30+ years of investment of doing good deeds the community. But doing good deeds is not enough. We are called and commissioned to “Love in the Name of Christ,” which rubs awkwardly against the secular social vision of most service agencies, and challenges the Church to engage both practically and reflectively in the mission of God, to the glory of his great name, and the benefit of our communities.
We are caught between two worlds as an organization – the Church world, and the social services world – and that puts us in a challenging position. But I see this challenge as a tremendous opportunity to preach the Gospel, and to cast a fresh vision for our communities from the heart of the Gospel and the heart of the Church. Will you continue with us in this partnership for Christ and his Kingdom?
If you are willing, here are four specific things we would ask of you in the coming days and months.
1) Pray. We covet your prayers, first and foremost, knowing our limitations and our weakness; that we can do nothing without the grace and empowerment of God’s Holy Spirit. We’ve faced a lot of transition as an organization, and have more to weather still. Please keep us in your prayers: pray for me, for all the leadership, for the staff, the board, our volunteers, for the palpable presence of Christ in the midst of these efforts, and for spiritual delight and sustenance in what he has given us to do.
2) Give. Our shift from what we have been to what we are becoming is going to require a leap of faith, and slowing down to linger in a season of discernment about how we can best embody the vision and mission the Lord has given us means absorbing some risk for us as an organization. Would you prayerfully consider making a special gift to Whatcom Love INC in this season?
Some other ways that you can support us in the short term include:
- Hosting a table for our Fall Fundraiser, upcoming October 18.
- Participating in Fall Fundraiser efforts by:
(1) putting together a themed auction basket, (2) pledging to bake a desert for our dessert dash, or (3) helping us to make connection with corporate sponsors for the fundraiser.
I am projecting our 2019 Fall Fundraiser to be an area of special need, given the shape and timing of the transition, and the limitations of my skillset. If you have skills and confidence in this area, please contact me ASAP. For persons willing to take on a coordinating role, a small stipend may be available.
3) Train. Over the last year, Redemptive Compassion training has been a runaway success, with Shannon leading more than 300 people from over a dozen congregations in our county through the material over the course of six seminars. I will be continuing and building upon this success on the basis of my training and experience in teaching undergraduate level theology courses, with all of these trainings geared towards developing a common language, culture, and conversation for our common process discernment for the shape of mission in our “here and now,” across our different congregations and Christian traditions. I am willing and capable of engaging, not only around the Redemptive Compassion curriculum, but on any question pertaining to local mission. Where do you, or does your congregation, need training to empower and set you free into your sense of vocation and mission in our community?
4) Serve. We’re looking for people ready and willing to get their hands dirty for the Kingdom! The transitions at Love INC have caused us to lose touch with a lot of our volunteer corps, and we’re looking to rebuild that part of our network as we move into the next season. Our most pressing areas of need are currently as follows:
- Board Members – participate in discernment and governance for the organization as a whole
- Phone and Office Volunteers – this is the “classic” Love INC space: volunteers in our call center engage directly with callers in need in the name of and on behalf of our network of congregations, and help to connect them with resources in the network, and in our community.
- Interest Gatherings – people from diverse congregations and background who want to focus on developing resources to serve the Church network and/or community. Some examples of the active areas where we have or are starting gatherings are:
- Budget Coaching – 1 on 1 Budget Coaching is a legacy program in need of redevelopment and relaunch
- Network and Media Development – We are working on gathering people willing and interested in using new technology and platforms to develop systems that will help connect and communicate the Body between congregations — and between the church world and nonprofit world — for the sake of manifesting the Kingdom and serving our community.
- Labor and Construction – We have a ministry being catalyzed that will serve widows and orphans with practical, material helps.
- Relational Ministry – Particularly in the form of friendly visitation to isolated and homebound elderly, which program we still in the process of trying to develop and launch.
- Apologetics – We’re looking to leverage our network to support, develop, and strengthen local apologetics ministries for deployment in and for local mission.
- Soul Care – In partnership with Cedar Springs Retreat Center, we’re working to strengthen, consolidate, and make more visible and available the network of soul care providers and soul care opportunities.
- Vocational Discernment – We are gathering people who are interested in developing programs that will help people find a long term match between their passions and vocational intuitions, and meaningful service opportunities in the community.
- Local Church History – As we look forward to what God will do in our community, we also want to honor and recognize what he has done. To do this, we want to gather persons interested in local church history who will grapple with the question of how to tell the story of where we have been in light of where we are going.
Regardless of where our volunteers serve with us, and how long a season, we want to see all of our people growing in their capacity and freedom to serve the Lord and live into their passion and vocation. We will mobilize the Church to serve our community and our neighbors only when we raise up people who will share in that vision, mission, and work of mobilizing the Church, and so as we shift our focus towards this next season, we are placing our emphasis on people not programs, as we see also in the example of the Lord.
Let me ask you, then: what is the Lord stirring in your heart as you read this? Where and how can you participate in this new thing the Lord is doing in our midst? As you pray, how is the Spirit making you restless to act?
Our hearts are full of gratitude for you and for the work that you have done in and for Love INC over the years — whether big or small, for many years or for few. Truly, God has blessed this organization, and all of the efforts that have been offered through it, more than we can ask or imagine, and we proceed in a spirit of joy, celebration, and abundance, even in the midst of transition and uncertainty. God loves you and he loves his Church, more than we could ever measure!
Let’s find a time to chat by phone or face to face. I’d love to hear more of your story, and to help make connections that are a blessing to you and to the Church from all the many things I see stirring down on the ground from this “crow’s nest” position overlooking the diverse landscape of congregations and ministries here along the coast of the Salish Sea.
In the meantime, I pray that the abundant blessings of Christ and his Spirit would rest upon you and upon all you love and care for, in the mighty name of Jesus!
The Rev. Nathaniel Kidd, PhD