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Community In Action: Partying In Louisville’s South End

We’ve often said that if you want to experience true, deep community at Sojourn, you should join a community group. Our community groups not only provide friendship, accountability and care for members, but they are working for the peace of this city in many ways, day in and day out.

Last Saturday, six groups in Louisville’s South End got together and threw a block party. Not only did they extend hospitality to their neighbors, but they raised $350 to buy 59 backpacks to give away to kids going back to school.┬áNot only that, but 70 of their neighbors came to the block party. 30 people filled out a registration card to get a free backpack, and over half of them expressed interest in being contacted by Sojourn.

One of the families who attended had arrived in the U.S. from Burma just two weeks ago. This block party provided them with their first taste of hot dogs!

I’d like to give a special shout out to Danny Loeschen, the coach for our South Louisville community groups. Danny shows great leadership and vision. And thanks to everyone in these groups. You are a model for all of us to follow.

If you’re looking for a good “first step” for how your community group can extend hospitality and mercy to others, you can “adopt the medical clinic” this Saturday. Get all the details on how to do that right here.

Do you have a story about a community group that has recently gone “on mission” in your neighborhood?

The Part We Need You To Play This Weekend

As you must know by now, the weekend ahead will be one of the biggest in the history of Sojourn Community Church, as our Midtown Campus takes root in our newly refurbished St. Vincent’s building. In fact if you missed the news report from WDRB Fox 41 in Louisville over the weekend, check it out here.

As the news report says, we’re launching services at St. Vincent’s on Sunday. And we’re hosting an Open House this Saturday night, as Pastor Chad describes in his invitation to you:

But the weekend kicks off with our free medical clinic at our first Midtown Campus building, The 930, from noon to 4pm on Saturday. We’re expecting several hundred neighbors from Shelby Park, Smoketown, Germantown and surrounding Louisville areas. Over our past nine medical clinics, health care professionals have donated about $1 million worth of free medical care, and many of you have served with them.

Together, we will provide these neighbors free health checkups and screenings, dental exams and extractions, chiropractic adjustments, and access to free clothing, reading glasses and over-the-counter medication. Most importantly, we will pray and preach God’s Word for those who will gather with us.

We still have great opportunities for you to play a part.

Do you have a story from a past Medical Clinic that you could share with me?

Thanks For The Incredible Sendoff, Sojourn

Yesterday at Sojourn Midtown, we worshiped together for the last time at The 930 Art Center. Next Sunday we begin worshiping at the newly restored 125+ year old St. Vincent’s. As exciting as next Sunday will be, today let’s reflect on God’s blessings to us over the past six years at The 930.

We asked Sojourners for one-sentence reflections on their time at The 930. Then we put those memories together in this incredible, short video:

Hats off to Michael Winters and Drew Layman for putting this video together, and a big “thanks” to all who participated. I’m thankful for these memories, just as I’m confident that God has greater things in store for Sojourn, the Shelby Park/Germantown neighborhoods and for Louisville in the days to come.

The Last Sunday, part 2

This is our final Sunday to worship together at The 930 Art Center. Yesterday I wrote about some of my favorite memories of our time at The 930, and asked you to join in. Of course this is in preparation for the August 26 launch of St. Vincent’s.

I get excited each time I think about the future at St. Vincent’s (see this article about it in the Louisville Courier Journal). But the excitement that many of us feel doesn’t negate the fact that tears will be shed this Sunday.

It’s okay to mourn. We will gain a lot by moving to St. Vincent’s, but we will lose some things too. That’s what change is all about — even positive change. The size of our new worship space means I won’t be able to look everyone in the eye as I preach. This might seem like a small thing, but it’s a big thing to me.

And even though our memories will remain, it still seems a bit like we’re leaving them behind. We’ll no longer be gathering for worship at the place where many of you heard the gospel for the first time, were saved, were baptized, got married, dedicated your babies, and many other milestones.

There is a good kind of mourning. While God doesn’t want us to be his “frozen chosen,” unwilling to embrace His vision and walk through the doors He places before us, He doesn’t expect us to move forward with cold indifference to the past, either. Where there is no mourning, there is no true thankfulness. We see this at every stage of life. We eagerly step into marriage as we mourn our singleness — perhaps realizing we’ll have less time with parents and friends, perhaps because we’re moving to a different house or even city. We await the birth of a first child even as we mourn the end of opportunities to live just as a couple. We send our kids off to school even as we say, “Where did my baby go?”

I thank God for our time at 930 Mary Street. This Sunday, a big part of me will feel sad at the closing of this latest chapter of Sojourn Community Church. Don’t feel guilty about being sad. Change is always hard, but thank God we have a permanent dwelling in Christ. I hope you will join me for this final service at The 930. We’ll remember and reflect, even as we prepare to celebrate together over the bountiful opportunities God has brought before us.

The Last Sunday, part 1

This Sunday marks the end of an era in the history of Sojourn, and I hope you will be there with me to mark the occasion. For over six years we’ve worshiped weekly at The 930 Art Center. We began here as a church of 300 people in one place, and since then have become the “Midtown Campus,” launching three other campuses from Midtown while growing to 1500 people at this location.

Sojourn Community Church had rented space in the Highlands for Sunday Gathered throughout the first five years of our existence. As we began to outgrow our last rented space, we began to imagine what it would look like to own our space — to be able to dream big, to design a space that would invite, welcome, inspire and challenge people in this city.

We imagined what it would look like to have our own art gallery, and to have a “home base” that would allow us to invest in the neighborhood, not only through Sunday services but through things like medical clinics, festivals, music shows, art exhibits, weddings and classes.

Through the prayers, generosity and hard work of many, this dream became a reality. From The 930 we’ve repaired houses in nearby neighborhoods, counseled and comforted the hurting, and providing a space of beauty and possibility in an economically depressed area. Our Sunday services have grown too. We’ve welcomed thousands and baptized hundreds.

I remember wondering if people would actually come to our morning service. We’d only had a 5pm service those first years of our existence — would people be so used to Sojourn being “the evening church” that no one showed up in the morning? But soon we were bursting with two morning services in addition to the 5, which led us to launch our fourth service at 7pm.

Those original 7pm services were so small that I taught from the aisle rather than the stage. Now, not only is this a typical packed-out Sojourn service, it’s the most fervent and expressive service we have.

PRAYER + WISDOM from shepherd ahlers on Vimeo.

And of course there were all the great art exhibits. One of my favorites was our Prayer + Wisdom exhibit. This project perfectly captured the fruition of our meditation on Psalms and Proverbs. I felt inspired and fell more in love with God’s Word each time I circled around the gallery and pondered on each piece of the exhibit.

Another favorite was the Our Neighborhood Germantown exhibit. This was a pivotal exhibit for us, because it provided the model for doing an art project that reflected and involved the neighborhood. On the night of our opening reception, hundreds came and lingered over each piece. We held a potluck dinner as well. What could be better than breaking bread with neighbors and enjoying the fruits of creative work that collectively told the story of our homes.

I could go on and on with memories from music shows, art exhibits, Sunday services, Fall Festivals and other events. God has richly blessed our time at The 930, and has given us experiences that will reverberate in all of our lives for a long time. But rather than recount more of my favorite memories, I’d rather hear from you.

What is your favorite memory from our time at The 930?

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