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

This Sunday at Celebration:

The Interior Castle

Interview with Derek Farmer

4:00pm Celebration @ The Collaboratory
(5623 Rainier Ave S. 98118)

This Sunday, John will be interviewing Derek Farmer, the director of Seattle Tilth’s Food & Faith Initiative and the Just Garden Project. These projects are at the intersection of spirituality, community organizing, poverty, and food justice. Not only that but Derek is also a hospital chaplain, has a Masters in Pastoral Arts from Seattle University and completed a fellowship in Interreligious Dialogue at the Ponitifical University of Thomas Aquinas in Rome.  Derek is an active participant in the V&M Men’s Group and is married to Katy Sewall, a radio host and producer on KUOW and NPR.

This month our series is called “The Interior Castle,” a phrase coined by the Spanish mystic, Teresa of Avila, and which highlights that we are turning our focus from “doing” to “being.”  This month, in place of the normal Reflections, John will be interviewing local leaders about their inner lives.  Our lineup for May is:

May 3rd: Marvin & Jeanett Charles (co-founders of D.A.D.S. and ordained in the Missionary Baptist Church)
May 10th: Annette Jones (V&M’er and co-founder of J.C.S. and Kindness Karma)
May 17th: Harriet Walden (founder of MFPA and ordained minister in the New Thought Church)
May 24th: Derek Farmer  (Hospital chaplain, Director of Seattle Tilth’s Food & Faith Initiative, and V&M’er)
May 31st: Jonathan Rosenblum (chief organizer of the SeaTac airport worker campaign and lay leader in the Kadima Reconstructionist Synagogue)

Our Encounter Groups this Sunday will be: 
*Guided meditation with Nathan
*One-on-one interviews/conversations of each other in pairs
*Discussion with Derek about Food & Faith
*Music and movement (family-friendly group) with Mari

Andrew and Hannah will be leading the music!

Youth Retreat this Weekend

Emily is taking a handful of our V&M youth (grades 6-12) to Tacoma this weekend for the annual “CONVO” youth gathering, along with hundreds of other youth connected to UMC congregations from around the state.  John will be there on Saturday to lead a workshop at the retreat called “Speaking Truth to Power.”

As more families get connected at V&M we are beginning to bat around ideas about occasional youth activities and family fun nights at the Collab (with games and such). If you are interested, contact rev.emilyjoy@gmail.com orjohn@valleyandmountain.org.

Here’s a blurb of what our youth will be up to this weekend:The annual Pacific Northwest Conference convocation (CONVO), open to youth in grades 6-12 (and their supportive adults), will be held this year on Memorial day weekend (May 23-25) at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA.

Theon Johnson
Rev. Theon Johnson

The CONVO 2015 theme is DO. LOVE. WALK. This year’s speaker, the Rev. Theon Johnson III, is the Associate Pastor at Glide Memorial United Methodist Church in San Francisco, CA. He will lead us in exploring and understanding the call of Micah 6:8.

How do you give a voice to the voiceless, even when it’s difficult?

How do you have compassion for everyone, especially those who are hurting?

How do you live your life in a way that allows God to make you the best expression of yourself, not for yourself, but so you can make change in the world?
Time is not that relative: A timely start and finish at Celebrations

We are making a new effort to start and end Celebrations within the proclaimed time frame.  This effort is particularly aimed to assist those with commitments or family needs (e.g. bath-time and bed-time) in relying on Celebrations that end on time. So we will be starting our Gathering Song shortly before 4pm and eating at the Love Feast by 5:10pm. We aimed for this timeframe last Sunday and were successful, and it felt great for all. That doesn’t mean you’ve got to go by5:30, people are still welcome to have fellowship time beyond that, but it should help those who have other commitments. So if you’ve been held back from coming on Sundays because you’re not sure how long we’ll go on, you can expect a different normal going forward!

Meet our new Radical Hospitality Coordinator

If you have come to Celebration or the Collaboratory in the last year, you have probably met Annette. Not only have you probably met her, you’ve probably been welcomed by her with a warm glowing greeting and perhaps even gotten offered a PB&J and an inspirational quote, and been invited to a service or to do community service.

As a congregation that claims Radical Hospitality as one of our three core values, we realized that we had a lot of untapped potential in this area and Annette was the perfect person to help us turn our desire to be hospitable into a full-fledged reality.  She will help create a welcoming culture at V&M, connect newcomers with regulars, gather contact info and oversee follow-up, oversee projects to help us show hospitality to those of us who are already involved, and ultimately equip others to do the same.

Annette writes: “Hello and thank you all for this wonderful opportunity to do what I love to do!  I look forward to meeting those of you I don’t already know and spending time to get to know you all.  John, the leadership team, and I will be working hard to make you feel welcomed, included and loved.  Thank you and see you soon!”

Open House and Community Cookout Kick-off: June 7th

In June we start our summer Celebration schedule, which means we end the service around 5pm and then go to the Collab Garden to co-host a Community Cookout with Community Arts Create and Root of All Roads farm stand. This will start on Sunday, June 7th and we’ve planned it to coincide with the Collab Open House and the first summer BackStreet Bazaar, to make it a perfect storm of community and fun!  The Open House is a chance for the neighborhood to walk through the space and meet the various partners. If you would like to help with the summer cookouts, please contact john@valleyandmountain.org.

 South Seattle Emerald

John here: I wrote my first column for the local media outlet, The South Seattle Emerald last week and it is now online. It is for their multi-faith column titled “Matters of Faith.”  Here is a link for those interested. I recommend searching around to see some fantastic journalism!

The Collab is Bursting with Vitality, Community, and Social Change Work!

The Collaboratory has been in fine form recently!  Here’s a bit of what went on the other week:
Monday: Hawaiian Ukelele and Storytelling Class, Seattle Globalist meeting, YMCA DJ’ing class for at-risk youth, Tenants Union Membership meeting.
Tuesday: Spanish language storytelling group, Patacara Community Services meeting, Taste International cooking class for at-risk youth, Standing Against Evictions and Foreclosures organizing meeting.
Wednesday: Tai Chi Class, Toddler Breakdancing Class, One-Year Anniversary Celebration of the South Seattle Emerald.
Thursday: Drop-in center meal and hospitality, Rainier Valley Corps meeting, Hillman City P-Patch meeting, Collab Partners and Families Party.
Friday: Drop-in center, Chef Tarik’s youths complete their program and cook dinner for their parents, SAFE’s Two-Year Anniversary Party.
Saturday: Drop-in center, Isis Women Arts Festival.
Sunday: V&M Celebration, BackStreet Bazaar.

Can you believe we helped bring this into existence? Thank you for your investment of love, time, dollars, passion, word-spreading, and willingness to share power. This wouldn’t be here without you!

Case Dismissed!

*I (John) find this graphic very funny– it reminds me of a political mudslinging postcard you’d get during a campaign season* 

John here: The trial ended abruptly half-way through it when the judge dismissed the case. We were sad not to have had the opportunity to take the stand and tell our stories, but since the media was all over this case, we had ample opportunity to talk about the real issue– Alaska Airlines consistent efforts to undermine the organizing efforts of poverty-wage airport workers, including my friend Socrates Bravo. It was wonderful to have such amazing support from so many of you during this experience. It was quite nerve-wracking at times and your encouragement meant a great deal to me. I think that the case’s dismissal ultimately sent the message the even the judicial system saw that we were on the side of justice.  As a final reflection: for me, this kind of action pushes the limits of my comfort zone and causes me to lean more heavily on God. I feel the Christ Presence in these moments and discover a greater sense of solidarity in the Spirit with those who live each day grinding out a living in situations where the odds are against them and the powers that be are benefitting from their exploitation. If anyone wants to talk more deeply about the whys, the complexities, the questions, the theology, the politics, or the messiness of all this, don’t hesitate to reach out.

Here is a link to a brief recap from the Seattle Times: http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/politics/seatac-judge-tosses-case-against-kshama-sawant-2-others/. On a rare note of unsolicited pastoral advice, don’t read the comments. I haven’t read these so it’s not an objection to what might be in there, but when a story like this is personal and there are lots of random people reading it, the least attractive parts of the human spirit love to emerge.

And here are two more photos from it.  One from a press conference/prayer action and one of our reaction after the case was dismissed.

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

Unique Events this Week

(Private) Birthday Party, Saturday the 23rd

Tenants Union Meeting, 6-7:30pm, Monday the 25th

Center for Inclusive Entrepreneurship “Food Cooperatives panel/event”, 6:30-8:30pm,Wednesday the 27th

(Private) Wedding, Saturday the 30th

Weekly Events

Tai Chi/ Qiqong Class, Wednesdays, 8:30-9:20am

YMCA After-School Program, Mondays 3-5pm.

Hawaiian Ukelele Class, Mondays, 10am-11am

Toddler Breakdancing Class, Wednesdays,10am-11am.

SAFE Organizing Meeting, Every Tuesday, 7-9pm.  S.A.F.E. is Standing Against Foreclosures and Evictions.  Meal served 6:30-7pm.

Check out other events on the collab website: www.hillmancitycollaboratory.org

Click here if you want to sign up to receive the Collab monthly newsletter.  And email collabnewsletter@gmail.com if you have anything you want included in the newsletter that the broad Collab community may be interested in (clothing swaps, service projects, creative liberation actions, etc).

Older 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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