What Happened at Shine Bright on March 11th?

Let Your Little Light Shine

Some worship leaders from Circle of Hope in and around Philadelphia recently put together a beautiful rendition of the spiritual, “Let Your Little Light Shine.” Take a listen [https://youtu.be/_aINVxuWrvo] — this is what we are doing at the Shine Bright Peace and Justice Storytelling Zoom calls that we host every couple months.

Krista Dutt of the Peace and Justice Project Leadership Team said after the event “I really appreciate the different levels and completely different stories that were showcased. Mim’s was over a life time, Beth had an idea dropped on her from God, Meadow was still in the middle of hers in some ways, and John’s was a passion that he shared with the church. I really liked the idea that creative ways to follow Jesus are all over the place. I think we should continue to do that.”

I agree, the simple act of sharing unlocks a spirit of creativity and possibility in us that can easily spread. We are helping each other see how shiny we are. The lights we have lit are not consumed by darkness — BY NO MEANS! So go on with your shining, in Jesus name.

Here’s an inadequate recap to inspire you if you couldn’t be there. We forgot to recordit this time, so don’t miss the next one on May 13th (because we might forget again 😉)

Bethany Stewart from Circle of Hope in Philadelphia, PA

Bethany describes herself as “a Black Liberation Creative.” She’s a writer, a podcaster, a core organizer for Community Bail Fund, she works as an education and employment specialists with youth, and she helps lead a Compassion Team in Circle of Hope called Circle Mobilizing Because Black Lives Matter (CMBBLM).

CMBBLM connects the churches theology with “the radical and more importantly righteous Black Lives Matter movement.” She says she is “not super charismatic like this” but this idea for a black arts festival to raise money to bail people out of prison was “a vision given to her by God.” It was called Turn Up 2 Bail Out. It featured black musicians, artists, crafters and business people showcasing their talents and wares all for a good cause. Long story short, it was a huge success and they have raised tens of thousands of dollars over the last four years, including over $10,000 through TU2BO pandemic livestream edition.

Bethany gives the glory to God. She closed with one more evocative self description: “Righteously audacious black girl ready to be moved by the Holy Spirit.”

Meadow Piepho from Revolution Church in Salina, KS

Meadow shared her journey of care and reconciliation through years of heartache, loving a family through caring for children in the foster care system. They cared for two siblings for over a year but the children were removed from their house when her husband Jeff was falsely accused of harming them. In the mandatory investigation, Meadow and Jeff lost custody of the children to whom they had given their hearts for over two years.

Fortunately they were able to maintain a relationship with the children and the mother who chronically suffered from drug addiction. They held out hope that one day the mother would recognize her need for the Piepho’s in her children’s lives and they would be reunited.

In the thick of it Meadow realized she was at a fork in the road: “Give in to the bitterness and quit or keep pressing on and love and forgive?” She chose to love and forgive and God granted her desire to mother these children again.

Mim Stern from BICWM and Souderton BIC in Souderton, PA

Mim Stern lived 34 years in Africa and has now lived 34 years in Philadelphia with a mission to the international students at “International House” in the Overbrook section of Philadelphia. They host students in the house and look for organic opportunities to share the gospel with them.

Mim was a nurse in Africa, so recently she suggested teaching anatomy to her most recent group of students as a way to help them with their English and the nursing degrees they came to the United States from Saudi Arabia to work on.

The love that grew in those sessions was evidenced when they came back for a visit after returning to Saudi Arabia for several month. Pandemic not withstanding, when they showed up they gave her a big hug (which is not common for Muslim men). Mim said she was sure that the seed of the gospel was planted in them and she is just waiting to see how it will grow in their lives.

John Alfred from Madison Street Church in Riverside CA

John Alfred started a community focused team called Mad Street Bikes. It’s been going for 4-6 years. It’s bike clinics, arts collaboratives, advocacy, and lots, and lots of time to be together.

John said, “Riding bicycles with people and within our earthly home is one way of participating in the communion of the saints, present and past.  My wife and I always remember our dear friend Kathy Pickering when we ride. The conversations and openness that arise while rolling along with so many friends over the years are uncountable, and the anticipation of when we will next enjoy each other’s company is sustaining.  This way of being together is also a doorway into what Richard Rohr is saying in this quote:

“To be a person of faith means to see things – people, animals, plants, the earth – as inherently connected to God, connected to ourselves, and therefore absolutely worthy of love and dignity.  That is what Jesus is praying for: that we could see things in their unity, in their connectedness.”  

“There’s no roof or walls on a bicycle… I think of several winter rides we took before COVID hit with our friend Amanda at Lake Perris… we were “in it” with eagles, hawks, high mountains in the distance and the subtle beauties of our arid territory at our feet, or wheels to be more precise.

“Riding bikes together, helping people fix their bikes, and advocating for better ways to use bikes in our society is certainly not the only way to lean into the communion of the saints or care for God’s creation (or let it care for you), but it is one doorway, one liminal space where our inhibitions and pretenses drop a little, one gate into the sheepfold.” 

But that was just the beginning…

Then we broke out into breakout rooms and shared even more. It was great. Put the next one on your calendar. May 13th, 2021 8:30 Eastern, 7:30 Central, 6:30 Mountain, 5:30 Pacific

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