By Dan Crain, South Atlanta Community Facilitator
How do we know reconciliation is happening? One indicator is that you make decisions “with” those on the margins.
A great example of this is the amazing people, particularly Stacy Brungardt and Rob Irvine at Cumberland Community Church in Smyrna. Stacy runs The Collective at Cumberland, a collection of non-profits to provide services for those on the margins and Rob is the Pastor of “Outside the Walls” at the church.
Stacy and Rob have been at the work of reconciliation with those on the margins for a long time and have embraced the model of dignified interdependent relationships from Dignity Serves in their work. Their philosophy at the Collective clearly states; We operate under the philosophy of Dignity Serves and with the belief that as God’s unique creation, every individual has gifts, value and purpose and as such, is worthy of being treated with dignity and respect regardless of their situation or circumstances. http://www.thecollectiveac.org/what-we-do/philosophy/
Stacy actually does her own trainings with churches and ministries, which is phenomenal. Stacy speaks with passion and experience about the best ways to help people on the margins.
Recently Rob made a video sharing about why the principles of dignified interdependent relationships from Dignity Serves are so important in their work with those on the margins. You can watch the video here;
Some context to the video is needed to fully understand the importance of what Rob says. Cumberland Community Church sits a quarter mile from the new Braves stadium. When they found out the Braves were coming they needed to make some strategic decisions about what they as a church were going to be about.
As they witnessed their community on the margins being pushed out because of gentrification they made a hard decision to move with their community to where they are being pushed out, three miles away around Cobb Parkway. On the flip side there are business and some churches that don’t see what’s happening and are actually profiting from the influx of money, people and resources. Certainly the rich do need Jesus, but not at the expense of the poor being pushed out. That’s another topic for another blog.
There’s a line in the video that needs to be highlighted from Rob, “We have been working with people, we’ve developed a community where are with people in the everyday trenches of life and so when our neighbors are pushed out, we are going to go with them.”
This is a great example of what it means to join your lives with those on the margins, you begin to feel their pain and frustration and so you make decisions based upon what affects them.
The second indicator of reconciliation of REMERGE from Dr. Andy Odle’s book, “Joining Lives: A Primer on the Ministry of Reconciliation” is; “the inclusion of the voice, contribution and influence of the most vulnerable (1 Cor 12:22–26). We can hardly say we take seriously the ministry of reconciliation if we claim to love the dishonored of the world and then tell them to sit quietly in the corner while we who have honor make decisions for them.”
Are we including the voice of those on the margins when we are making key decisions? Cumberland Community Church did and they are now moving.