Join us at 4:00pm every Sunday
for our Celebration services
@ The Hillman City Collaboratory 
(5623 Rainier Ave S. 98118)

This Sunday at Celebration:

“Back To Our Roots”


Reflection by Dimitri Groce

Our current series is called “Back To Our Roots.” April is a month of springtime blossoming, resurrection, and fresh possibilities. This month we’ll be exploring the intersection of our personal spirituality, the environment, and the social crises going on around us.


Hillman City Neighborhood Conversation Series Kicks-Off @ the Collab on the 23rd

A neighborhood group wants to help ensure that residents are organized and part of the dialogue as the neighborhood changes, likely at an unprecedented rate.  The kick-off event will be from 6-9pm at the Collab!  Learn more at:


 Summer Cookouts!

Remember the super fun community cookouts we hosted with Community Arts Create last summer after Celebration (in lieu of the indoor Love Feasts)?  Well, the Celebration Team has met with CAC and decided we should do it again, from June through mid-September!  This year we have more time to prepare and would love to improve the experience.  If you are interested in helping in some way with the cookouts, contact Rachel Tefft (racheltefft15@gmail.com) and John Helmiere (john@valleyandmountain.org).  For example, Maybe we could reach out to various ethnic community centers andhave Sundays where they co-host the cookout and we could build some more bridges!  Or we could have sack races! Or [fill in the blank with your good/odd idea here]!
Tai Chi/Qigong Classes Begin!
Wednesdays 8:30am

Hillman City Collaboratory now has free Tai Chi/Qigong classes every Wednesday morning, 8:30-9:30am. The class is taught by George Draffan. The class is appropriate for beginners and experienced practitioners of diverse physical abilities. And it’s offered by donation, thanks to the co-sponsorship of the Hillman City Collaboratory and Patacara Community Services.

Subversive Mystical Theology Class

The mystical, subversive theology class is up and running now.  There is 1 class left.  If you are interested in participating in future classes (no commitment is necessary) or if you want to receive the readings each week, emailjohn@valleyandmountain.org.

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/Love– from Being Human Perfectly to Being Perfectly Human
Class 7: Church/Community– from Fortress of Dogma to Spiritual Compost Bucket


Beautiful Music Party Success!

With special thanks to lead organizer Mari Kim and chief coordinator Marilee Jolin, along with their incredible team of uber-volunteers, the dancing and feasting party last Friday was a raging success!

One eyewitness reports: “On Friday March 13th, the Hillman City Collaboratory was filled with cheerful people hugging, shaking hands, filling up a plate with delicious food andsipping on Flying Lion beer.  But this wasn’t just any old Collab party.  It was a celebration in response to the sad events of a few weeks previous when every piece of our sound equipment was stolen.  This theft was a heart-breaking loss but we chose, in classic Collab fashion, to overcome harm and hurt with stronger affirmations of caring community.  In other words, we get robbed… so we have a feast, music, and dance party!

And what a party it was!  Tambourines rang out to celebrate each donation added to the jar.  Arms were linked andpartners swung to the foot-stomping live music from Subversive Squaredance.  We laughed and sweated andhopped and swayed as we learned Bollywood dance from the amazing Suma Mondal of World Dance Party. Hips shook and hearts pounded to the Afro-Brazilian samba steps taught by our neighbor Nessa.  And all the while, we ate great food, made important connections and just generally had a blast.  The night ended with a stellar set of music from Ben Hunter and Joe Seamons and, of course, a late night jam session.
We could not be more grateful for the generosity and support of this beloved community!  Thank you for sharing of yourselves and making this beautiful place what it is.
Our fundraising efforts are not over!  We are so thankful for the outpouring of support on Friday – in just one night we raised enough money to cover the insurance deductible!  We still have a ways to go towards our $5000 goal that would enable us to continue to improve security and make other needed improvements around The Collab.
If you are able, please consider making a donation here.  Indicate “sound equipment” in the text box after amount so we can be sure to count it toward our total goal.”


YMCA Youth Program Starting on Mondays
The YMCA has become a new partner at the Collab and will be offering after-school programming for youth on Mondays from 3-5pm.  The first classes will be on technology usage.  Email Kevin Loyal at kloyal@seattleymca.org with questions.


Spanish Storytime on Tuesdays
Families of Color Seattle is now offering Tuesday Spanish-language Storytime at the Collab.  10:00-10:45am (start time10:15am) with a requested $5 drop-in donation.  Emailamy@focseattle.com with questions.


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.

 Other Past News:

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.  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.

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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