The Project F-M has five values listed that tell something about who we are. If you want to know what The Project F-M is like, I offer these stories from the last year of how these values play out in the life of our faith community.
Authenticity: At The Project F-M people share their faith and life. Two participants lost their homes for various reasons. Several more shared of job loss. One talked about what it is like for him to be on the autism spectrum. Another shared his recent struggles with depression. Someone gave a talk about the grace and call he experienced in coming out as a gay man. Everyone shares their faith and life struggles, and we all grow from hearing about people’s lived experiences.
Seeing the gray: Many people in the demographic The Project F-M serves are disinterested in absolutes, preferring the gray area in between extremes. One participant calls himself an atheist, but says “my head tells me there is no God, but my heart tells me something different.” Another participant is a member of a local congregation, but has questions about some issues and wants a safe space to explore those questions. The Project F-M allows her that safe space. In fact, there are no issues that are taboo in our conversation. People respectfully work out their thoughts and beliefs on a wide range of hot-button issues, from gun-control, abortion and homosexuality to hermeneutics, theism, and forgiveness.
Community: One college student active in our ministry said after a Theology Pub one time, “I just love everyone in this group. They’re all so interesting.” And it is true–the common ground we all share is a desire to engage the questions, but otherwise it is a fairly eclectic group that might not have opportunity to meet otherwise. I knew we had developed “community” when I learned that the two people who lost their places to live were invited to stay with other Project participants for awhile. Not only did they feel safe sharing their experience with potential homelessness, but instead of hearing an inauthentic “that’s too bad” what they heard was “you can stay with us for awhile.”
Open to Diversity: A new person one night once asked, “We’re all Christian here, right?” and he got a fairly resounding “no” from around the table. He had missed the introduction that might have explained that. Many participants are Christian, but all of them crave conversation and community with people from different backgrounds and beliefs. Our most highly attended Theology Pub topic of the year was with guest speaker Rabbi Janeen Kobrinsky, on “What I wish people knew about Judaism.” Their only negative feedback on it was that they wish there was Jewish voice at ALL the theology pubs.
Grounded in Christ: This year, we began a worship service of sorts. The gospel (good news of Christ) is proclaimed (announced) in various diffused ways. We call this service “Sounds Sacred (to me).” Through poetry, song, art, presence and bread and wine people might experience Christ as present in their lives. At first, we didn’t know what would happen to our diverse community if we introduced communion. But it is a table set by Christ, “shed for you and for all people,” and so I tell them that. Then we serve to anyone who comes forward. Christ made space for everyone at the table–drinkers, doubters, liars and searchers. Pious and un-pious. Most of us fall into all of those category at various times in our lives. We trust the grace announced at the table for all–grace that might be felt even if you choose to not participate, and we find our grounding there.
Because like our posters always say, “Participate at your own pace. Because sometimes, it’s all you can do to just be there.”