a more personal connection

We visited the other Mennonite church in the area Sunday and got to spend some time talking with Cal Zehr, the pastor there. I'm interested in connecting with other churches and Christians here, to see if there might be chances to work together, and I appreciate feeling the body of Christ outside the smaller circle here on the farm. We might be able to visit the local Methodist pastor later this week.

Pastors might also be able to help put us in touch with others who might benefit from retreats here. Cal suggested a couple pastors in the Chicago area that might be helpful in referring people to us. We're starting to explore the idea of working with pastors in urban and economically disadvantaged areas, instead of trying to go through bigger social service organizations. I think I'd like that much better, if it can be arranged.

Part of what prodded us in that direction is that I haven't been able to get much response from the social service organizations I've tried. And the leader of retreats for the homeless in Chicago hasn't been very helpful in that effort; I had assumed he would be, from his encouraging words in the past. It seems he doesn't want to imply any connection between his organization and our retreats here. That's been very disappointing. But I shouldn't be surprised, as the growth and increasing establishment of all organizations seem to lead to an emphasis on self-preservation and a more "businesslike," impersonal way of interacting with people. Even the best groups get stripped of their spirit and vitality in that way.

I pray in our way of interacting with people here and with others in the city we can demonstrate a personal love that is strikingly different.