All Saints is a small parish, perhaps 30-50 depending on the Sunday. We are seeing the beginnings of something that over the last few years I have found that I deeply desire, to find an expression of authentic community centered around Jesus of Nazareth. This is something I have intuitively wanted for much of my life and have not known quite how to express or actualize.
We are finding that an authentic community is a generous community.
Chris has been able to invite several of her friends met in the county jail, and that has gone well. Yesterday the parish threw a baby shower for F, a young woman that has been in and out of drugs and prostitution that now wants to live responsibly to her two year old and her unborn child. She had never been to All Saints before, but the reception was warm and very generous. The child’s father M came as well; initially extremely resistant, almost literally dragging his heels, the warmth of the response to both of them broke his resistance. He even agreed last night in conversation with F that he would be open to coming to church there. Sonogram has revealed that the baby has a cleft palate, so we know that there are unusual needs. We hope to be a generous community for them; they will need it.
A is 50+, did topless dancing for 20 years, and for the last 10 has been in and out of jail, trying to hold on and eventually slipping back onto the streets. She came to All Saints as well yesterday; she just got out again a week or two ago. We don’t know how A will do; what we do know is that we will befriend her where and when we can, as without that I don’t think she has any real hope.
A few months ago we were approached by some friends about being a contact church for ex-inmates. We immediately agreed, and a couple of months ago we got a call from that list by a couple that was having a difficult time. That night we took some food over, and they have come with us to All Saints once. J disappeared again a few days ago and took $100 set aside for the light bill, but by now there is relationship formed with L.
Yesterday L came to All Saints with Chris but was so distraught that she did not want to be with people and called a friend to pick her up early. Before she left a friend managed to talk to her and found out that her $82 electric bill was due today, and she had no money to pay it. There are four kids at home, about 11-16 years. Yesterday afternoon at a coffee shop in east Dallas a few friends spontaneously pulled out what they had, and without planning there was $82 in the pile. Chris talked to L yesterday evening and took it over to her. It was difficult for her to take, but we are finding ways to extend help with dignity so that we are generous as peers.