Join us for Celebration!

All are welcome to our interactive, inclusive services that incorporate the arts, contemplative practices, fellowship, and social justice.  We meet every Sunday at 4:00pm at the Hillman City Collaboratory, 5623 Rainier Ave S, Seattle WA 98118.

This Sunday at Celebration:

Plunging into the Mystery

Reflection by Tommy Walsh

This Sunday we continue our Lenten theme of “The Great Plunge,” as we discuss “The Mystery.” In our modern world, we have become addicted to certainty. At the first sign of a question, people bust out their smartphones to look up the truth. That might work on scientific or mathematical issues, but when it comes to the great questions of God, right and wrong, meaning, and what we really want out of life… we usually need to get over our certainty addiction and learn to plunge into the mystery.  V&M’er Tommy Walsh will be sharing some of his intriguing story wrestling with these questions and sharing his reflections on the topic.

Our encounter groups will be:
*Ben Hunter leading a music-making group
*Rev. Terri Stewart leading a discussion group about the Youth Prison Chaplaincy program that she started and the Healing Communities (see blurb below) training on how churches can help with prison re-entry
*Emily leading a creative and intergenerational group

Join us this Sunday, March 1st at 4:00pm for Celebration.  We meet at the Hillman City Collaboratory, 5623 Rainier Ave S, 98118.  You are encouraged to invite a friend!


Friday 2/27: Victor’s Closing Reception

V&M helped buy Victor (the Resident Artist at the Collaboratory) some of his arts supplies he used for the art show up right now. Come support him in the closing reception of his show this Friday, February 27 from 7-9pm! Food provided by Seattle semi finalist on ABC’s The Taste Chef Tarik Abdullah.
Thursday 3/5: Kickoff of Subversive, Mystical Theology Group

From 6:00-7:30pm this group will meet from for seven Thursdays: 3/5-4/23, skipping April 2nd. We’ll start meeting at the Collab and maybe meet for some classes in participants’ homes). Childcare will be available. The outline for the class can be found in the blurb further down in this email. If you’re interested, emailjohn@valleyandmountain.org!


Table Turning Monday
+ Creative Lib Planning Meeting

Each year we celebrate Jesus’s subversive, symbolic action of turning the money-changers tables in the Jerusalem Temple. He was executed by the Roman Empire a few days later. In the past four years of us doing this we’ve fought against unjust foreclosures and abuses by the big banks as well as injustices fostered by oil companies and our complicity with them.  This year an action is planned by a Seattle-based group working on ending the prison-industrial complex.  There’s also a community in Jackson using the idea/holiday to work on racial inequalities in their public education system. What should we do this year? If you’re interested in helping, talk to john@valleyandmountain.org.  Also, check out the website!
Or come to the next Creative Liberation Moblization (name-change pending) meeting on Wednesday, March 10th at 7pm. Contact Jaime at jairodr@yahoo.com.

A/V Theft and our Response
John here: V&M Friends, I’m sad to say that we had another theft at the Collaboratory. Despite our recent investment in new locks and a video security system, someone was able to gain entry on Tuesday morning and steal all of our audio and video equipment. We are seeking a way to get our things back and identify the unknown person involved (who we can partially see on tape). In the meantime, we’ve decided to continue responding with love and creativity. We’ve invited the broader Collaboratory and South End community to a feast, music, and dance party (and fundraiser) on Friday, March 13th. If you are interested in helping with this, contact Mari at marikim@me.com.  Also, I invite you to join me in holding in prayer both those of us who feel hurt and threatened by this act of harm and for the person who committed this. May we find a way to discover deeper bonds of community in the wake of divisive action and may we persevere in unconditional love and unrestrained creativity.

Talking to Your Kids About Race
A message from our friends at Church of Hope and The Well…
Talking with Young Kids about Race
Saturday, March 7, 3:30-5:30pm
@ Columbia City Church of Hope, 3818 S Angeline St
Talking to young children about race is never easy, It is however essential in our increasingly diverse society. Join us as we discuss how to address issues of race in our families.

For the adults, therapist Donna Linn will discuss issues of child development and how to approach the complex issue of race in helpful and understandable ways for young children. Artist, performer, and transracial adoptee Chad Goller-Sojourner will share from his life experiences what growing up black in a white family was like and how race has played a role in his life.

For the kids, we will have an age and developmentally appropriate program for preschool through early elementary age kids that will run concurrently with the program for adults.

This event is co-sponsored by Columbia City Church of Hope and The Well. (There is no religious content to the workshop, which is open to people of any/no faith traditions).

Tickets at Brown Paper Tickets (kidsandrace.bpt.me)
$20 per family
For financial assistance contact:


(in case you missed them in previous weeks newsletters)

Outline for Mystical, Subversive Theology Class
This class is a response to repeated requests for a setting in which to learn about and discuss the concepts that inform much of what we do at V&M, which is basically mystical-subversive theology. Mystical Theology reflects on the experience of suffering, illumination, and divine union.  Subversive Theology reflects on the spirituality of creative, redemptive love as resistance to the social psychosis (mass zombie delusions) that perpetuates social injustice and oppressive structures.The Outline is:
Class 1: The Point of Theology– from Being Right to Coming Alive
Class 2: God– from Big Being to Ground of Being
Class 3: Jesus– from God’s Press Secretary to Subversive Performance Artist
Class 4: Sin/Evil– from Naughty By Nature to Mass Zombie Delusion
Class 5: Salvation/Liberation– from Great Escape to Great Plunge
Class 6: Sanctification/Enlightenment– from Being Human Perfectly to Being Perfectly Human
Class 7: Church/Community– from Fortress of Dogma to Spiritual Compost Bucket

You will not be able to check your brain at the door in this group– the purpose is not to promote adherence to a single dogma but rather to introduce a helpful framework for the mystical-subversive Christian tradition, stretched and informed by insights from other mystical-subversive traditions. The goal is to create fertile ground for participants to mature in their ability to communicate and rely upon their own theology and experience.

First Day in Court

Alongside baggage handler Socrates Bravo and City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant, John had his first day in court on Thursday after the recent protest in front of Alaska Airlines HQ.  The hearing was simply to set a time for the actual jury trial, which is now scheduled for the last week of April.  Alaska Airlines has fought against their lower level workers attempts at forming a union and even after voters approved a $15 minimum wage (a campaign led by airport workers) they have blocked the law in court on technicalities. Despite making over half a billion dollars in profit last year they continue to pay their cleaners, handlers, and fuelers poverty wages.  Here’s a link to a short Stranger article.  Also you can see John speak at the press conference on a video Ryan took before the hearing on the V&M facebook page here.

New Entrance at Celebration + V&M Kids Volunteers Wanted

The V&M kids meeting last week centered on how to improve safety and security for our littlest ones. It’s wonderful that our space is so open to the public and that many people feel at home here. That said, everyone wins when kids are safe and parents feel comfortable.  So, we’re going to keep the side door locked (you can still leave through it but not go in through it), and use the front door as our entry door at Celebration.  Also, if you are interested in helping with the children’s ministry, we need you!  Please emailrev.emilyjoy@gmail.com to offer support or ask questions.

“Walking While Black”
Always Dangerous
Until Proven Otherwise Report

Chad Goller-Sojourner, one of our leaders at V&M, organized a GolfWalk in response to the arrest of William Wingate for “walking while Black.” The event was a powerful statement to the powers that be that the community will stand up and believes that #BlackLivesMatter! You can find news coverage, commentary, and ongoing organizing work at the events facebook page:

Collab Hospitality Ambassadors/ Front Desk Staff Wanted
Annette has started a welcome desk at the front of the Collab, to show hospitality to the steady stream of humans who come in the front door during the week. Some are simply curious neighbors, some are seeking to connect in some way to the V&M/Collab/CAC/etc communities, and some are folks down on the luck and looking for help figuring out an issue.  We are looking for help in 2 hour shifts during weekdays from people who can show warmth and welcome to strangers.

Collecting Books, Stamps, Cash for Prisoners

JCS is inviting us to help in this donation drive to empower incarcerated individuals.  During the month of February, donations can be brought to the Collaboratory. Contact Annette Jones at villageoutreach5623@gmail.com with questions or ideas.

Collab Garden and Chicken-Keeping Help Needed 

Isn’t the Collab garden outrageously awesome?  Isn’t it great how we get to have picnics and cookouts and meditation sessions out there? Wouldn’t it be even better if we had chickens laying eggs that we can cook with and share with local kids and other neighbors? This wonderful garden is only possible because of the hardwork of committed volunteers. The Collab Garden Coordinator, Rachel Tefft, is seeking a V&M representative for the garden. Someone willing to water the plants or feed the chickens, or other projects. It could be once a week (perhaps Sunday since you’ll be there anyway?) or some other commitment. Please emailracheltefft15@gmail.com with interest and questions.

Cool Stuff @ the Collab 
(between now and next Friday)

  • Victor’s Closing Art Show Reception, Friday, 7-9pm.
  • Mitriyah Pre-Purim Costume Party, Saturday, 7pm.
  • Earthcare not Warfare Meeting, Wendesday, 7-9pm.
  • Amy Walker One-Woman Show, Friday, 6-9pm
Weekly Events
  • In the Kitchen with Chef T, Saturday, 10am-12pm.
  • Pop-Up Bakery, Every Saturday, 12pm-3pm.
  • Yoga for all Bodies, Every Tuesday, 4-5pm!  Welcoming of all bodies and experience levels, this class is taught by volunteer local teachers.  Mats and instructions are provided.
  • SAFE Organizing Meeting, Every Tuesday, 7-9pm.  SAFE= Standing Against Foreclosures and Evictions.  Meal served 6:30-7pm.
  • Toddler Breakdance Class, Wednesday, 10am-12pm.
  • Hawaiian Ukelele Class, Friday, 4-5pm
Check out other events on the collab website: www.hillmancitycollaboratory.org
 Other Past News:

Life Sentence Commuted

John here: Sometimes I wonder if any organizing work or activism amounts to any real change.  I just wanted to share this with you all who I know care about social justice, creative liberation, and people who are incarcerated.
3 years ago a group of V&Mers went to Olympia to speak on behalf of Larry Fisher, a man who’d been in prison for 15 years and serving a lifetime sentence for stealing $151 from a Subway.  Some of you on this list were there. Larry had committed two other minor offenses in the previous ten years and although they were minor and nonviolent, it was technically a 3rd strike due to the law that had just been passed here in Washington. He was sentenced to jail for life (technically 777 years, 77 months, and 77 days).  We’d learned about Larry and several other non-violent 3-strikers through our alliance with JusticeWorks a nonprofit working to undo racism against African-Americans in the criminal justice system.  The law is hugely disproportionately affecting black and brown bodies– although Larry happens to be white.  Our liberation is indeed bound up together.
After testimony (V&M brought nearly half the room), the clemency board voted to recommend that the governor commute Larry’s sentence.  They mentioned the importance of the support in the room.  The governor didn’t do anything for a while and V&M had several encounter groups where we wrote letters to the governor about the issue.  I lost track of it until recently when we started sending cards to people in prison.  It turns out that Gov Gregoire signed a commutation days before leaving office!  The proclamation is here.  His story is told there.  V&M is mentioned in it too, believe it or not.  On page two.  Larry is in jail for one more year.May we continue to take seriously the message of Jesus and the prophets of Love– visit the prisoners, feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, do justice, make peace.


Solidarity with Muslim Brothers and Sisters

Link to Seattle P-I article

The imam of a mosque in our area was kicked off a plane for using the bathroom in a “doubtful way” and has asked for faith leaders to support him in asking the airline to investigate the occurrence and other discriminatory reports.  John participated by speaking at a press conference calling for Delta and the federal transportation agency to investigate a growing list of reported complaints (and as-yet-unreported instances) of Muslims being ejected from planes for purely discriminatory reasons.  He called on Christians who claim discrimination when cashiers fail to say “Merry Christmas” to look at this case of religious prejudice and join in solidarity with Muslims who face this kind of treatment on a regular basis.

Tags: progressive church Seattle, social justice church, spiritual community, ecumenical, radically inclusive, diverse, multi-generational, lgbt-friendly, Hillman City, Columbia City, Rainier Valley, South Seattle, incarnational, missional church, prophetic, mystical, alternative worship, emergent church Seattle, emerging, process theology, liberation theology, integral Christianity, reconciling congregation, UMC, open and affirming, inclusive, open-minded, Collaboratory


5 Responses to home

  1. beacon hillite says:

    I just saw your article in the 12/15/10 issue of the South Seattle Beacon. This was the first I have heard about your fellowship. As a person who has been uninterested in traditional churches for pretty much my whole life, I have to say that I was pretty impressed and even a little excited about what you are doing. Celebrating creativity and working to stop injustice in the world are two of the most divine things that humans can do; I’m pleased to see that you have made this so important to your mission! Keep it up!

  2. Jud Hendrix says:


    You rock! Glad things are going well! I need to come hang you with you!

  3. Shira Nahari says:

    My Dear Brother-in-Peace John,

    I just read your incredible report of how you were beaten and arrested in Seattle recently.
    I intend to share it widely to enroll people in following your advice issued on the heels of this unprovoked abuse:
    · Listen deeply.
    · Get upset.
    · Generate Love.

    Among the recipients of your repoert will be the Mayor of Seattle, Mike McGinn and some City council members.

    You are a sterling template for unconditional Love and I am very sure Jesus would be proud to call you a disciple! You are spreading His message in a very pure form by BEing Peace.

    Blessed be
    in Love and Light,
    Shira Nahari, Everson WA

  4. Polly Burns says:

    I have just read your account of the happenings in Seattle…as I prepare to visit the city. I was there in October when the Occupy protest began and spent time with protesters. I am only there two days this time…I will be holding you in prayer and I will be publicizing your report.
    God bless you and thankyou for your challenge
    Polly in the UK

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