thinking out loud

…things that are on my mind, heart, and soul

Moving into Neighborhood

This past Saturday our community of faith began work on our Uptown Center, located at 668 Washington Road in Mt Lebanon, PA. This 800 square feet space was previously a retail store featuring finely crafted glass figurines. As you can see from the image, the space currently is a empty shell (you can view additional images at this on-line gallery). But we believe in time it will become an environment where people will connect with God, one another, and our world.

The Uptown Mt Lebanon neighborhood is a vibrant community that is intentionally living into the realities and principles of new urbanism. There is a unique and wonderful fusion of the economic, residential, cultural, and the political orders. An eclectic mix of coffee shops, restaurants, merchants, and helping professions and organizations is embedded into a residential, walking community filled with single family homes, townhouses and condos, and apartment complexes.

Now you might be asking why a church would lease an 800 square foot space in the midst of this type of neighborhood? It certainly isn’t a large enough space to become a home for our Sunday worship gatherings. And as much as my wife would like me to have an office outside of our home, a workspace for Marlaena and me is not priority number one. Our hope and prayer for the Uptown Center is that it might become a tangible expression of the kingdom of God in the midst of this neighborhood. Our intention is to join in the work that God is already doing in this neighborhood and by faith, contribute what we can to the promotion of flourishing in this community. And by the grace of God and the empowerment of the Spirit, perhaps God will use us in some way in the work that God is doing to bring all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe together again in Christ.

For me this simple antidote speaks volumes and confirmed to me that we are heading in God’s direction with this initiative. On Saturday morning as our first work crew was beginning its labors, one of the neighboring merchants stopped by to welcome us and inquire about our presence in the neighborhood. Steve’s first words were to me were, “Moving in?” The full weight of his simple question did not hit me until Tadd, one of the guys on our work crew (and a leadership team member) said to me, “Did you hear what he said? ‘Moving in?'”

And in a moment it all made complete sense. As a missisonal community of faith we seek to follow Jesus into the world. And a primary text for us has been Eugene Peterson’s rendering of John 1:14:

“The Word became flesh and blood,
and moved into the neighborhood.”

Stay connected…

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2 Responses

  1. Joe Polk says:

    Welcome to Mt. Lebanon and Washington Road! I hope that your center is beneficial to you and your church!

    Joe Polk
    Blog-Lebo
    bloglebo.blogspot.com

  2. Dianne says:

    no shelfari, no iMix. what’s this blog coming to?! but i’m reading “We Are All the Same” right now, so i’ll survive!

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have the peace that passes understanding at the heart of yourself, but do not be at peace with the world. for the world is more malleable than we think and we must wrestle it from fools. (bono)
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