Before too much time passes, I want to give some props to people who made the Immersion experience possible:

  • To Elaine for teaching and sharing and walking with us

  • To the students for their courage, insight and humor

  • To all those who donated furniture, food, wood-working, time and money

  • To our neighbors who cooked and baked for us

  • To the neighbors on our street who are so welcoming to everyone

  • To Envision for the beautiful work they are doing

  • To Vicki and the Raise My Head Foundation for an inspiring dream

  • To Camp Horizon for the bunks

  • To the Apprentice Institute at Friends University for their support and unwavering encouragement

Immersion Wrap-Up!

From Matt...

On Thursday morning we concluded the immersion experience and brought this first experiment in intentional community and ABCD to an end. The morning was mostly spent on reflections and feedback from the students regarding the immersion, but we did also manage to fit in an hour of Elaine’s teaching, which was fantastic! She talked about the steps a person can take to form an intentional community and a house church, based on her own experiences as well as the work of her students. The model of church she is seeing emerge is not like the model most of us grew up with (the model of having a full-time pastor with staff who are producing programs for the church members to consume) but instead the model she is seeing involves shared leadership among lay-people and clergy, whereby everyone involved is able to learn and grow together as apprentices of Jesus while serving one another. You can learn more about this model by reading the book she co-authored with Larry Duggins entitled, Missional. Monastic. Mainline.

I mentioned that we spent most of the morning reflecting on the week, and once again the students did great work. They were able to give us insight into the elements of the week that were most helpful to them as well as the aspects of the week that were most challenging (and beneficial), not to mention a few changes that would be very helpful.

We ended our time together with a time of worship and a blessing to send us from this place to serve in the world. As I looked around the room during that time of worship I was so grateful for these students, who had given up a week of their summer break to come and be a part of something that could hardly be described. They embraced all the uncertainty without flinching. They tolerated various inconveniences (like 6-12 people sharing one bathroom). And they faced their own fears, like knocking on the doors of total strangers and asking for an interview! I see tremendous faith in what they did this week, and their faithfulness encourages me as I consider the future.

While this is the end of the immersion, it is only the beginning of the work of SoCe Life. Stay tuned for more information as we continue to work inside the SoCe neighborhood and as we connect with folks from different organizations all around the country--it will be an adventure!

I will close with the words of blessing we offered one another during the closing worship. May they be true for us all:

As you go from this place,

May God the Creator bless you.

May God the Son walk with you.

May God the Spirit lead your life with love. Amen.


From Matt...

Day 3 of our immersion experience was so good in so many ways it is hard to put it into words, but I do want to at least tell you all about it.

We started the morning with prayer, communion and then breakfast. After breakfast we continued our brainstorming and connecting with ABCD which led to a series of action items for everyone to follow-up with. We made phone calls and walked to a few neighbors’ houses to see if they would be interested in assisting with various small jobs or connecting with different neighbors (to help with a project) or groups (like the nearby quilting club). It was exhilarating to take action and the response from our neighbors was all positive. (You can see a few pictures from Wed. on the previous blog.)

At 10:30 we met with Vicki Bond of the Raise My Head Foundation. Vicki is a long-time friend who has done an incredible job putting together this non-profit which plans to offer a two-year residential program for women who want to leave sex trafficking, homelessness, and/or drug addiction. Vicki is joyful and passionate about her work, which is contagious! We were able to tour the house they recently purchased and learn about their plans. Please take a moment to visit their site here:

After being inspired by Vicki we returned to the house for lunch and naps or recreation. In the afternoon, we returned to Bethany UMC for another powerful time of teaching from Elaine Heath. This time was especially inspiring as Elaine shared with us various individuals and groups that she has connected with that are doing amazing, out-of-the-box ministry around the U.S. And yes, some of this type of ministry does not fit into the measuring metrics of those who want to keep the institutional church the way it has been for so long, but at the same time, these changes are anchored in the teachings and practices of Jesus and the Apostle Paul.

By 5:30 we were all starting to get tired, but we couldn’t slow down because at 6:00 we were hosting a street party at the house. It was definitely stressful at moments, but between the focused energy of our immersion students and the conversation and laughter of arriving neighbors, the stress soon melted away. After eating lots of wonderful food, we sang a few folk songs, which eventually involved a few of the kids leading the singing and even dancing!

Many hands made light work of setting up for our block party. I think Prescott was inspecting the quality of Elaine's work. 

Many hands made light work of setting up for our block party. I think Prescott was inspecting the quality of Elaine's work. 

Sami, one of our immersion students, teaches a dance step to one of the neighborhood kids during the party. Who would have ever guessed there would be dancing happening in our front yard? 

Sami, one of our immersion students, teaches a dance step to one of the neighborhood kids during the party. Who would have ever guessed there would be dancing happening in our front yard? 

We ended the day by reflecting on the moments when we felt closest to and furthest away from God. I think it is safe to say the blessings of the day heavily outweighed the low points. Or as I like to say, the day was “OFF THE CHARTS AMAZING!”